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Diagnosis of Insomnia

The doctor will ask about any symptoms, and medical and family history. There will be questions about whether you have problems initiating sleep, staying asleep, waking up early, or feeling tired despite seeming to sleep for a normal amount of time.

To make a diagnosis of insomnia, the doctor will ask about:

  • Excessive fatigue or daytime sleepiness
  • Impairment of attention, concentration, or memory
  • Impairment in social, occupational, or academic performance
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Diminished motivation, energy, or initiative
  • Occurrence of frequent errors or accidents at work, or while driving
  • Presence of possible related symptoms such as tension headaches or gastrointestinal distress
  • Preoccupation with sleep

To help determine a cause of insomia or any associated conditions, the doctor will ask about:

  • Moods or mood changes
  • Physical or mental symptoms or problems
  • Daily activities
  • Work pattern or history
  • Sleep patterns
  • Snoring
  • Medication use
  • Travel patterns
  • Eating habits
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

You may also be asked to fill out a sleep diary, which is a record of your sleep patterns. Your doctor may want to speak with your bed partner concerning the quantity and quality of your sleep. Other specialized tests may be ordered depending on what your doctor suspects may be the cause of your insomnia.

In some instance where the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor may order a polysomnogram (sleep study), where your sleep is analyzed during a 1 or 2 night stay in a sleep lab.

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References:

Buysse DJ. Insomnia. JAMA. 2013;309(7):706-716.
Insomnia. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/insomnia. Updated July 2017. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Insomnia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/insomnia. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Insomnia. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/home. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114839/Insomnia-in-adults. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 3/15/2015

 

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