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Insomnia is diagnosed when a patient tells their doctor that they have difficulty staying and/or falling asleep. 

If this has happened for less than three months, the doctor will diagnose acute insomnia. 

If this has happened more than three times per week for more than three months, the doctor will diagnose chronic insomnia. 

But this probably is not what matters to you at all. 

If you’ve wondered how insomnia is diagnosed, you’ve surely also wondered if you have insomnia yourself, and how to sleep well again. 

And this is what matters to you. 

Let us therefore find out whether you have insomnia and how you’ll find peaceful sleep again. 

Do I have insomnia?

Telling you that you have insomnia is just like the formal diagnosis of insomnia, a completely subjective affair. 

In other words, neither require a blood test or a sleep study or anything besides your own experiences. 

Now remember, a doctor HAS to put a diagnosis code in their note or they will not be able to charge the payer for their work. Which is why the traditional diagnostic criteria (difficulty falling and/or staying asleep) aren’t very helpful. 

They tell us nothing about WHY we are not sleeping well. 

This is why an alternative definition can be much more helpful. 

We define insomnia as a self-perpetuating and ongoing struggle to sleep that comes from a fear of being awake, regardless of how long this has been happening.  

This definition makes a practical difference because it actually explains what insomnia is: a way in which we experience anxiety. 

If you have worried about your sleep, if you’ve wondered why you’re not sleeping, and this has kept you awake at night, then you have what we call insomnia. 

How to sleep well again 

Defining insomnia as a fear of not being able to sleep not only clarifies what we are dealing with, but also how we sleep well again: when the fear fades, so does the insomnia. 

Which leads to the logical follow up question of how we can be less scared. 

First and foremost, the answer is education. 

For example, thinking of insomnia as a poorly defined, mysterious condition that requires an extensive diagnostic work up can in itself keep us in a frazzled and sleepless way!

On the other hand, knowing that it is nothing but a misclassification whereby we have started to think of not sleeping as a threat, demystifying our experiences and seeing that we are entirely safe, now THIS leads to what we want to happen. 

Sleeping well and feeling like ourselves again.

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