Diagnosing Insomnia

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on August 26, 2019

Sleep disorder tests are often used to diagnose insomnia. A doctor will likely perform a physical exam and take a medical and sleep history to determine the cause of the sleep problem. Further tests may be required.

How Your Doctor Diagnoses Insomnia

During the exam, your doctor will seek to identify any medical or psychological illness that may be contributing to your insomnia. For example, you may be asked about chronic snoring and recent weight gain, which might suggest sleep apnea as the cause of insomnia. You will also likely be asked questions to see if you are suffering from anxiety, depression or other conditions that may keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Tests Used to Diagnose Insomnia

  • Sleep diary: Tracking your sleep patterns may help your doctor reach a diagnosis.
  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale: a validated questionnaire that is used to assess daytime sleepiness.
  • Polysomnogram: a test measuring activity during sleep.
  • Actigraphy: a test to assess sleep-wake patterns over time. Actigraphs are small, wrist-worn devices (about the size of a wristwatch) that measure movement.
  • Mental Health Exam: Because insomnia may be a symptom of depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, a mental status exam, mental health history, and basic psychological evaluations may be part of your initial assessment.
WebMD Medical Reference


SOURCE: National Sleep Foundation.

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.