How is insomnia diagnosed?

Chronic insomnia can have a big impact on your life, so if you suffer from its symptoms, talk to your doctor. To diagnose your chronic insomnia, your doctor will ask you questions about your sleep habits and medical history. Your doctor may also examine you. If you doctor thinks it will be helpful, they might suggest that you keep a sleep diary or enroll in a sleep study. Your doctor may able to treat an underlying medical issue, if that is what is causing your insomnia, or may be able to suggest therapy or lifestyle changes that may help. They may also prescribe sleep-inducing medication.
Masoud Sadighpour
Masoud Sadighpour on behalf of MDLIVE
Internal Medicine
As a sleep medicine physician, my first visit takes about 45-60 minutes. Questions about past medical history is the first step, questions like history of high blood pressure, diabetes, surgeries, and medications which includes prescription and over the counters.

Next step is a detailed history of insomnia, the main causes, screening for mood and or other psychiatric diseases.
In some cases, if a patient snores and has a chance of sleep apnea, narcolepsy, etc., I might decide to do a sleep study.
A board-certified sleep physician can diagnose insomnia and work with a sleep team at an accredited sleep center to treat it. Before your appointment, the doctor will ask you to keep a sleep diary for 2 weeks. This will allow him or her to find out what is causing your insomnia and what course of treatment to take.

When you visit a sleep physician, you will want to tell him or her about your medical history and whether you are taking any medications, including over-the-counter drugs. The doctor will also want to know whether you have had any recent stressful or traumatic events. The physician may give you a written test to analyze your mental and emotional well-being. If the physician suspects a related medical problem is causing your insomnia, a blood test may be required.

You will not need an overnight sleep study unless the physician suspects you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.

This content originally appeared on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website.
There are many variations of the definition of insomnia, but basically it is diagnosed by a physician taking a careful history of your sleep and wake cycles and any problems you may have falling asleep or staying asleep. This problem with sleep should be present despite a good environment for sleep and causes daytime problems or distress. It should also occur at least three times a week before it's considered a "medical condition."
If you think you have insomnia, talk to your doctor. It might be helpful to complete a sleep diary for a week or two, noting your sleep patterns, your daily routine, and how you feel during the day. Discuss the results of your sleep diary with your doctor. Your doctor may do a physical exam and take a medical history and sleep history. Your doctor may also want to talk to your bed partner to ask how much and how well you are sleeping. In some cases, you may be referred to a sleep center for special tests.
This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.