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Sleep. 2000 Mar 15;23(2):237-41.

Practice parameters for the evaluation of chronic insomnia. An American Academy of Sleep Medicine report. Standards of Practice Committee of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

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  • 1Neurology Department, Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport, USA.


Chronic insomnia is the most common sleep complaint which health care practitioners must confront. Most insomnia patients are not, however, seen by sleep physicians but rather by a variety of primary care physicians. There is little agreement concerning methods for effective assessment and subsequent differential diagnosis of this pervasive problem. The most common basis for diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been the practitioner's clinical impression from an unstructured interview. No systematic, evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis exist for chronic insomnia. This practice parameter paper presents recommendations for the evaluation of chronic insomnia based on the evidence in the accompanying review paper. We recommend use of these parameters by the sleep community, but even more importantly, hope the large number of primary care physicians providing this care can benefit from their use. Conclusions reached in these practice parameters include the following recommendations for the evaluation of chronic insomnia. Since the complaint of insomnia is so widespread and since patients may overlook the impact of poor sleep quality on daily functioning, the health care practitioner should screen for a history of sleep difficulty. This evaluation should include a sleep history focused on common sleep disorders to identify primary and secondary insomnias. Polysomnography, and the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) should not be routinely used to screen or diagnose patients with insomnia complaints. However, the complaint of insomnia does not preclude the appropriate use of these tests for diagnosis of specific sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and narcolepsy that may be present in patients with insomnia. There is insufficient evidence to suggest whether portable sleep studies, actigraphy, or other alternative assessment measures including static charge beds are effective in the evaluation of insomnia complaints. Instruments such as sleep logs, self-administered questionnaires, symptom checklist, or psychological screening tests may be of benefit to discriminate insomnia patients from normals, but these instruments have not been shown to differentiate subtypes of insomnia complaints.

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