Insomnia Tests

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on October 1, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on October 1, 2014

Insomnia Tests

Diagnosing insomnia can be difficult since there is not one single definitive test. Your doctor can explore the underlying causes and treat them accordingly in an effort to provide you with relief. The symptoms of this sleep disorder include:

  • trouble falling asleep
  • staying asleep
  • abnormally early wakening
  • poor quality sleep

Insomnia can cause irritability, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. It can wear down the immune system too. A detailed medical history and physical exam can often help diagnose a sleep disorder.

Physical Exam

A physical exam might be done to explore whether there are any physical reasons for the insomnia. There may be a physical or emotional component to your sleep problems. You might have blood tests performed to check for health issues that may be interfering with sleep.

Diagnostic Interview

A medical history, or diagnostic interview, can give your doctor valuable information in understanding the causes of your insomnia. Certain things like mental health disorders or substance abuse can interfere with sleep. If either of these are the cause of your insomnia, treating them can help address it.

If a specific underlying problem is found to be contributing to your sleeplessness, then targeted treatments can potentially be used. A targeted approach will generally be more effective than simply trying to “knock a patient out” with potent hypnotic pharmaceutical agents.

The doctor might also have you fill out a sleep journal or sleep log. This is usually kept for two weeks. It involves recording:

  • when you went to bed
  • when you woke up
  • what time you fell asleep
  • times you woke up during the night

When your doctor reviews it, they may be able to identify any patterns that might help with diagnosis.

Sleep Study

Your doctor may order a sleep study, also called a polysomnogram (PSG). The purpose of this test is to determine whether a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome is causing the insomnia. It involves staying overnight at a sleep center and sleeping with electrodes attached to your body. These monitor bodily processes like brain waves and eye movements. The electrodes are hooked up to an EEG machine, which monitors your sleep cycles and stages. All of the information can help the doctor get a better picture of what may be going on physiologically.

If you are experiencing insomnia, talk with your doctor. You may be able to sleep better once these issues are addressed. Your doctor can work with you to find treatments that work best for you.

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Send us your feedback

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Show Sources

Trending Now

Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Learn about some of the most common triggers for asthma, as well as measures you can take to minimize your risk of exposure, symptoms, and flares.
Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
The symptoms of RA are more than just joint pain and stiffness. Common symptoms include loss of feeling, muscle pain, and more. Learn more in this slideshow.
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
There is not just one type of migraine. Chronic migraine is one subtype of migraine. Understand what sets these two conditions apart.
Understanding the Progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Understanding the Progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis
One serious potential cause of back pain is ankylosing spondylitis. Get an understanding of what this condition is, how it progresses, and potential complications in this slideshow.
How to Evaluate Your Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Plan
How to Evaluate Your Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Plan
Every multiple sclerosis (MS) patient is different, and no single treatment plan works for everyone. Learn more about what to consider when evaluating your MS treatment plan.