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Insomnia Diagnosis

If you're having trouble sleeping at night, start by talking to your health care provider.

Insomnia is a serious health concern because it affects the quality of life. Talking to your doctor is an important step for restoring sleep and improving your health.

The diagnosis of insomnia is made based on the patient's reported signs and symptoms. Obtaining a detailed history is crucial in evaluating insomnia, expect your doctor to ask many questions pertaining to your sleep pattern, sleep quality and daytime symptoms. Information about your past and ongoing health problems will also be obtained because many medical illnesses are known to disrupt sleep through various mechanisms. You need to inform your doctor whether your are taking any medications including over the counter drugs and health supplements.

You may be asked to complete a questionnaire to assess your wake-sleep pattern and your level of daytime sleepiness. Your doctor may also ask you to keep a sleep diary for one or couple of weeks to track your usual sleep and wake patterns.

Physical examination will be carried out to determine whether there are health problems that may be causing insomnia. Additional diagnostic procedures such as blood test may be requested by your doctor to rule out disorders such thyroid problems or other conditions that may affect your sleep pattern.

A specialized test known as polysomnography or sleep study may be considered if your doctor suspects disorders such as sleep apnea. Polysomnography gives information on the sleeping/waking brain. This test monitors and record brain waves, breathing, heartbeat, eye movements and body movements while you're asleep.

Psychological evaluation is a very important component of insomnia assessment. This is necessary in order to discern whether insomnia is a primary disorder or a disorder caused by psychological disturbances. Psychological causes range from anxiety to serious psychiatric disorders.


Morin, C. Insomnia: A Clinical Guide to Assessment and Treatment. 2003

Nezu, A., Maguth, c., Handbook of Psychology. John Wiley & Sons. Inc., NJ 2003

Szuba, M., et al. Insomnia: principles and management. Cambridge University Press.2003

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