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How our doctors diagnose your insomnia

Once you’ve explained your symptoms to one of our online doctors, they will be able to tell whether or not you’re suffering from insomnia.

However, this isn’t the full story. Just as importantly, they will need to find out what the underlying cause of your anxiety about your sleep pattern is. This will ensure you get the most effective treatment.

They’re likely to ask you a lot of questions to try and uncover the cause of your insomnia. To help your consultation run smoothly, you should be prepared to answer questions about:

  • Your sleep routine (e.g. what time you go to bed, what time you get up).
  • Your sleep environment (e.g. whether any noise, light, or the temperature of your room could be interrupting your sleep).
  • Whether you’re experiencing stress, anxiety or any other mental health condition.
  • Whether you smoke or drink alcohol.
  • What your exercise habits are (specifically, what time you usually exercise).
  • Whether you’re taking any form of medication.

Everything you tell our doctors is completely confidential and any written notes are held securely and only shared with your permission.

Keeping a sleep diary

Once you’ve answered all their questions, the doctor might recommend that you keep a sleep diary for a couple of weeks. This will give them more information with which to make a confirmed insomnia diagnosis.

You may be asked to record:

  • What time you go to bed.
  • What time you fall asleep.
  • What time you wake up.
  • How many times you wake up during the night, and when.

Tests for insomnia

While there’s no test to diagnose insomnia as such, in some cases the doctor may request some tests to check for an underlying cause.

For example, if they suspect that thyroid problems might be to blame, they can ask that you undergo a blood test. 

Types of insomnia

Not all cases of insomnia are the same. As part of your diagnosis, our doctors will work out what sort of insomnia you have, in order to help them decide on the best form of treatment.

The different types of insomnia include:

  • Acute insomnia - A short term bout of sleepless nights, often triggered by stress or a challenging life event, such as a family bereavement or losing your job.
  • Chronic insomnia - Long term sleep problems that have been ongoing for at least three nights per week for the last three months.
  • Onset insomnia - Trouble falling asleep when you go to bed.
  • Maintenance insomnia - Trouble staying awake for your full night’s sleep.

Can you diagnose yourself with insomnia?

While no one is more aware of your sleep problems than you are, the important thing to remember is that our doctors are in the best position to help you identify the underlying cause.

Self-diagnosing and resorting to over-the-counter sleeping pills is not a good long term solution to your insomnia. It’s much better to treat the root cause and prevent your sleep disorder from recurring.

Is insomnia considered a psychological illness?

No, being diagnosed with insomnia is not the same as being diagnosed with a psychological condition.

However, it can certainly be caused by a number of mental health problems, including stress, anxiety and depression. Our doctors will be able to identify this and provide the help you need.

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