Insomnia Disorder- DSM5

Disclaimer: Use this information for reference only. Please do no self diagnose. You must see a doctor or a mental health professional to get proper diagnosis.


Insomnia DisorderDiagnostic 

Criteria 780.52 (G47.00)

A. A predominant complaint of dissatisfaction witli sleep quantity or quality, associated with one (or more) of the following symptoms:

1. Difficulty initiating sleep. (In children, this may manifest as difficulty initiating sleep without caregiver intervention.)

2. Difficulty maintaining sleep, characterized by frequent awakenings or problems returning to sleep after awakenings. (In children, this may manifest as difficulty returning to sleep without caregiver intervention.)

3. Early-morning awakening with inability to return to sleep.

B. The sleep disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, educational, academic, behavioral, or other important areas of functioning.

C. The sleep difficulty occurs at least 3 nights per week.

D. The sleep difficulty is present for at least 3 months.

E. The sleep difficulty occurs despite adequate opportunity for sleep.

F. The insomnia is not better explained by and does not occur exclusively during the course of another sleep-wake disorder (e.g., narcolepsy, a breathing-related sleep disorder, a circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder, a parasomnia).

G. The insomnia is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication).

H. Coexisting mental disorders and medical conditions do not adequately explain the predominant complaint of insomnia.

Specify if:

With non-sleep disorder mental comorbidity, including substance use disorders With other medical comorbidity 

With other sleep disorder

Coding note: The code 780.52 (G47.00) applies to all three specifiers. Code also the relevant associated mental disorder, medical condition, or other sleep disorder immediately after the code for insomnia disorder in order to indicate the association. 

Specify if:

Episodic: Symptoms last at least 1 month but less than 3 months.

Persistent: Symptoms last 3 months or longer.

Recurrent: Two (or more) episodes within the space of 1 year.

Note: Acute and short-term insomnia (i.e., symptoms lasting less than 3 months but oth- enA/ise meeting all criteria with regard to frequency, intensity, distress, and/or impairment) should be coded as an other specified insomnia disorder.

Note. The diagnosis of insomnia disorder is given whether it occurs as an independent condition or is comorbid with another mental disorder (e.g., major depressive disorder), medical condition (e.g., pain), or another sleep disorder (e.g., a breathing-related sleep disorder). For instance, insomnia may develop its own course with some anxiety and depressive features but in the absence of criteria being met for any one mental disorder. Insomnia may also manifest as a clinical feature of a more predominant mental disorder. Persistent insomnia may even be a risk factor for depression and is a common residual symptom after treatment for this condition. With comorbid insomnia and a mental disorder, treatment may also need to target both conditions. Given these different courses, it is often impossible to establish the precise nature of the relationship between these clinical entities, and this relationship may change over time. Therefore, in the presence of insomnia and a comorbid disorder, it is not necessary to make a causal attribution between the two conditions. Rather, the diagnosis of insomnia disorder is made with concurrent specification of the clinically comorbid conditions. A concurrent insomnia diagnosis should only be considered when the insomnia is sufficiently severe to warrant independent clinical attention; otherwise, no separate diagnosis is necessary.

Diagnostic Features

The essential feature of insomnia disorder is dissatisfaction with sleep quantity or quality with complaints of difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep. The sleep complaints are accompanied by clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The sleep disturbance may occur during the course of another mental disorder or medical condition, or it may occur independently.

Different manifestations of insomnia can occur at different times of the sleep period. Sleep- onset insomnia (or initial insomnia) involves difficulty initiating sleep at bedtime. Sleep maintenance insomnia (or middle insomnia) involves frequent or prolonged awakenings throughout the night. Late insomnia involves early-morning awakening with an inability to return to sleep. Difficulty maintaining sleep is the most common single symptom of insomnia, followed by difficulty falling asleep, while a combination of these symptoms is the most common presentation overall. The specific type of sleep complaint often varies over time. Individuals who complain of difficulty falling asleep at one time may later complain of difficulty maintaining sleep, and vice versa. Symptoms of difficulty falling asleep and difficulty maintaining sleep can be quantified by the individual’s retrospective self-report, sleep diaries, or other methods, such as actigraphy or polysomnography, but the diagnosis of insomnia disorder is based on the individual’s subjective perception of sleep or a caretaker’s report.

Nonrestorative sleep, a complaint of poor sleep quality that does not leave the individual rested upon awakening despite adequate duration, is a common sleep complaint usually occurring in association with difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or less frequently in isolation. This complaint can also be reported in association with other sleep disorders (e.g., breathing-related sleep disorder). When a complaint of nonrestorative sleep occurs in isolation (i.e., in the absence of difficulty initiating and/or maintaining sleep) but all diagnostic criteria with regard to frequency, duration, and daytime distress and impairments are otherwise met, a diagnosis of other specified insomnia disorder or unspecified insomnia disorder is made. 

Aside from the frequency and duration criteria required to make the diagnosis, additional criteria are useful to quantify insomnia severity. These quantitative criteria, while arbitrary, are provided for illustrative purpose only. For instance, difficulty initiating sleep is defined by a subjective sleep latency greater than 20-30 minutes, and difficulty maintaining sleep is defined by a subjective time awake after sleep onset greater than 20-30 minutes. Although there is no standard definition of early-morning awakening, this symptom involves awakening at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time and before total sleep time reaches hours. It is essential to take into account not only the final awakening time but also the bedtime on the previous evening. Awakening at 4:00 A.M. does not have the same clinical significance in those who go to bed at 9:00 P.M. as in those who go to bed at 11:00 P.M. Such a symptom may also reflect an age-dependent decrease in the ability to sustain sleep or an age-dependent shift in the timing of the main sleep period.

Insomnia disorder involves daytime impairments as well as nighttime sleep difficulties. These include fatigue or, less commonly, daytime sleepiness; the latter is more common among older individuals and when insomnia is comorbid with another medical condition (e.g., chronic pain) or sleep disorder (e.g., sleep apnea). Impairment in cognitive performance may include difficulties with attention, concentration and memory, and even with performing simple manual skills. Associated mood disturbances are typically described as irritability or mood lability and less commonly as depressive or anxiety symptoms. Not all individuals with nighttime sleep disturbances are distressed or have functional impairment. For example, sleep continuity is often interrupted in healthy older adults who nevertheless identify themselves as good sleepers. A diagnosis of insomnia disorder should be reserved for those individuals with significant daytime distress or impairment related to their nighttime sleep difficulties.

Associated Features Supporting Diagnosis

Insomnia is often associated with physiological and cognitive arousal and conditioning factors that interfere with sleep. A preoccupation with sleep and distress due to the inability to sleep may lead to a vicious cycle: the more the individual strives to sleep, the more frustration builds and further impairs sleep. Thus, excessive attention and efforts to sleep, which override normal sleep-onset mechanisms, may contribute to the development of insomnia. Individuals with persistent insomnia may also acquire maladaptive sleep habits (e.g., spending excessive time in bed; following an erratic sleep schedule; napping) and cognitions (e.g., fear of sleeplessness; apprehensions of daytime impairments; clock monitoring) during the course of the disorder. Engaging in such activities in an environment in which the individual has frequently spent sleepless nights may further compound the conditioned arousal and perpetuate sleep difficulties. Conversely, the individual may fall asleep more easily when not trying to do so. Some individuals also report better sleep when away from their own bedrooms and their usual routines.

Insomnia may be accompanied by a variety of daytime complaints and symptoms, including fatigue, decreased energy, and mood disturbances. Symptoms of anxiety or depression that do not meet criteria for a specific mental disorder may be present, as well as an excessive focus on the perceived effects of sleep loss on daytime functioning.

Individuals with insomnia may have elevated scores on self-report psychological or personality inventories with profiles indicating mild depression and anxiety, a worrisome cognitive style, an emotion-focused and internalizing style of conflict resolution, and a somatic focus. Patterns of neurocognitive impairment among individuals with insomnia disorder are inconsistent, although there may be impairments in performing tasks of higher complexity and those requiring frequent changes in performance strategy. Individuals with insomnia often require more effort to maintain cognitive performance.


Population-based estimates indicate that about one-third of adults report insomnia symptoms, 10%-15% experience associated daytime impairments, and 6%-10% have symptoms that meet criteria for insonmia disorder. Insomnia disorder is the most prevalent of all sleep disorders. ù;i primary care settings, approximately 10%-20% of individuals complain of significant insomnia symptoms. Insomnia is a more prevalent complaint among females than among males, with a gender ratio of about 1.44:1. Although insomnia can be a symptom or an independent disorder, it is most frequently observed as a comorbid condition with another medical condition or mental disorder. For instance, 40%-50% of individuals with insomnia also present with a comorbid mental disorder.

Development and Course

The onset of insomnia symptoms can occur at any time during life, but the first episode is more common in young adulthood. Less frequently, insomnia begins in childhood or adolescence. In women, new-onset insomnia may occur during menopause and persist even after other symptoms (e.g., hot flashes) have resolved. Insomnia may have a late-life onset, which is often associated with the onset of other health-related conditions.

Insomnia can be situational, persistent, or recurrent. Situational or acute insomnia usually lasts a few days or a few weeks and is often associated with life events or rapid changes in sleep schedules or environment. It usually resolves once the initial precipitating event subsides. For some individuals, perhaps those more vulnerable to sleep disturbances, insomnia may persist long after the initial triggering event, possibly because of conditioning factors and heightened arousal. The factors that precipitate insomnia may differ from those that perpetuate it. For example, an individual who is bedridden with a painful injury and has difficulty sleeping may then develop negative associations for sleep. Conditioned arousal may then persist and lead to persistent insomnia. A similar course may develop in the context of an acute psychological stress or a mental disorder. For instance, insomnia that occurs during an episode of major depressive disorder can become a focus of attention, with consequent negative conditioning, and persist even after resolution of the depressive episode. In some cases, insomnia may also have an insidious onset without any identifiable precipitating factor.

The course of insomnia may also be episodic, with recurrent episodes of sleep difficulties associated with the occurrence of stressful events. Chronicity rates range from 45% to 75% for follow-ups of 1-7 years. Even when the course of the insomnia has become chronic, there is night-to-night variability in sleep patterns, with an occasional restful night’s sleep interspersed with several nights of poor sleep. The characteristics of insomnia may also change over time. Many individuals with insomnia have a history of “light” or easily disturbed sleep prior to onset of more persistent sleep problems.

Insomnia complaints are more prevalent among middle-age and older adults. The type of insomnia symptom changes as a function of age, with difficulties initiating sleep being more common among young adults and problems maintaining sleep occurring more frequently among middle-age and older individuals.

Difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep can also occur in children and adolescents, but there are more limited data on prevalence, risk factors, and comorbidity during these developmental phases of the lifespan. Sleep difficulties in childhood can result from conditioning factors (e.g., a child who does not learn to fall asleep or return to sleep without the presence of a parent) or from the absence of consistent sleep schedules and bedtime routines. Insomnia in adolescence is often triggered or exacerbated by irregular sleep schedules (e.g., phase delay). In both children and adolescents, psychological and medical factors can contribute to insomnia.

The increased prevalence of insomnia in older adults is partly explained by the higher incidence of physical health problems with aging. Changes in sleep patterns associated with the normal developmental process must be differentiated from those exceeding age-related changes. Although polysomnography is of limited value in the routine evaluation of insomnia, it may be more useful in the differential diagnosis among older adults because the etiologies of insomnia (e.g., sleep apnea) are more often identifiable in older individuals.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. It provides a common language for clinicians to communicate about their patients and establishes consistent and reliable diagnoses that can be used in the research of mental disorders. It also provides a common language for researchers to study the criteria for potential future revisions and to aid in the development of medications and other interventions.

Artwork by: Toby Allen