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Diagnosis of Insomnia

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis of Insomnia

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health.

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

  • Excessive tiredness or daytime sleepiness
  • Problems with attention, focus, or memory
  • Social, work, or school problems
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Low motivation or energy
  • Many errors or accidents at work, or while driving
  • Possible related symptoms such as headaches or digestive issues
  • Worries about sleep

The doctor will look for possible causes, such as:

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

A sleep diary can be kept to record sleep patterns.

If the diagnosis is not clear, the doctor may order a polysomnogram (sleep study). Sleep is analyzed during a 1 or 2 night stay in a sleep lab.


  • Insomnia. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/insomnia. Accessed March 15, 2022.
  • Insomnia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/insomnia. Accessed March 15, 2022
  • Insomnia. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/home. Accessed March 15, 2022.
  • Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/insomnia-in-adults. Accessed March 15, 2022.
  • Patel D, Steinberg J, Patel P. Insomnia in the elderly: a review. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(6):1017-1024.


  • Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.