Tools

How Do You Know If You Have Insomnia? 2 Methods

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Oct 03, 2020

Having a rough patch of sleep may or may not indicate that you have insomnia.

So how do you know?

There are 2 quick ways to figure out if you likely have insomnia, I’ve gone over each of them below.

Calculate Your Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index Online

Once you start reading studies about sleep, you’ll notice that almost all of them use the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

It’s been proven to have a high degree of accuracy in measuring sleep quality, and predicting cases of insomnia.

You can use this online PSQI calculator to quickly find out your score. 

You should get a global PSQI score at the bottom, which is out of 21.

When it comes to interpreting the results:

  • A global score of 5 or less means you’re a “good” sleeper and unlikely to have insomnia.
  • A global score over 5 means you have an elevated risk for having insomnia.

In general, the higher your score, the more severe your sleep difficulties.

You’ll notice that it doesn’t tell you 100% if you have insomnia or not, but it gives you a good indication of your sleep quality compared to expectations.

See If You Fit The Diagnosis Criteria for Insomnia

There are different types of insomnia depending on who you ask.

But when most people think of insomnia, they’re thinking of chronic, or primary insomnia.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is a popular set of diagnosing guidelines in North America, primary insomnia consists of one or more of the following:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep, maintaining sleep, or waking up.
  • Difficulty getting to sleep lasts at least 3 months, and occurs at least 3 nights per week.
  • You have difficulty sleeping despite ample opportunity for sleep.
  • Your sleeping troubles cannot be explained by another disorder like sleep apnea.
  • It’s not a result of substance use (medication or abuse of a drug).
  • The sleep issues cause significant distress or impairment in other areas of your life.

In a nutshell, insomnia consists of significant difficulty with sleep that cannot be explained by some other condition or substance abuse.

How To Know For Sure if You Have Insomnia

The 2 methods above should give you a pretty good idea if you have insomnia or not, or if you’re at risk of it.

However, the best way to confirm it, and get the best treatment possible is to see a doctor.

They can perform a sleep study if necessary to identify the cause(s) and severity, and then prescribe a custom treatment plan.

There are many side effects of insomnia, so it’s important to fix it as soon as possible.


Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualitified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.