In this article, we’re going to list 19 sure-fire signs to tell whether you have insomnia. Sometimes you feel like you are an insomniac. Other times, you feel like you aren’t. If you are not sure whether you have insomnia or not, you are in the right spot!
Quick Answer: All 19 signs of insomnia:
- You can’t fall asleep at night.
- When you wake up, you feel extremely tired.
- In the morning you’re tired, but you’re wide awake when it’s bedtime.
- You prefer to work in the evening hours.
- You go to bed and wake up later than your partner.
- Sometimes, you wake up in the middle of the night.
- You feel sleepy during the daytime.
- You have problems to focus and concentrate.
- You can’t fall asleep because you worry about not being able to fall asleep.
- You feel demotivated and sometimes even depressed.
- You fall asleep in inappropriate or even dangerous situations.
- You don’t wake up to alarms.
- You think you need to go to the toilet at night.
- You are hyper-aware at night – you notice everything.
- You become sick often.
- Increased appetite – You eat more than others.
- You sleep for 7 hours or less every single night.
- You research sleep improvement online.
- You don’t have a solid sleep schedule.
Let me explain these signs of insomnia in more detail!
How to Use the Signs of Insomnia
These are 19 very common signs that you have insomnia. Check each of the signs carefully. Do you think some of the insomnia signs apply to you? If yes, count the ones that do. If you feel like at least 14 of them apply to you, there’s a high chance you have insomnia. Of course, this doesn’t replace a doctor’s diagnosis. But they are still very accurate.
I’ll tell you what you can do about insomnia later on. First, let’s check the signs.
19 Signs You Have Insomnia
1. You can’t fall asleep at night.
The first of our signs of insomnia is most likely the most obvious one. If you have insomnia you definitely have problems to fall asleep at night. The word “insomnia” has its origin in the Latin word “insomnis” which means sleepless. It’s basically the definition of insomnia that you can’t fall asleep at night.
When you have insomnia, you often lie awake for a very long time. Sometimes even for hours. In this time, other non-insomniacs would have already entered their deep sleep stage. Meanwhile, you keep turning and changing positions and you just won’t fall asleep.
2. When you wake up, you feel extremely tired.
When you wake up in the morning, you feel extremely tired and exhausted. You don’t feel like sleep is actually doing you any good. Instead, you have problems to fall asleep and problems to wake up when you finally fell asleep. Most likely your tiredness in the morning is caused by you not being able to fall asleep at night (and some other factors that we’ll cover later on). But all these symptoms go hand in hand. One causes the other. That’s why insomnia impacts so many aspects of your life.
When you wake up in the morning and feel way too tired, it’s a sign of bad sleep. But insomniacs often feel tired even 5 minutes, 15 minutes or even half an hour after initially waking up. Your body’s internal processes are rather slow in the morning and it takes a lot of time for them to acquire some velocity and get going.
3. You are tired in the morning but wide awake when it’s bedtime.
The third of the signs of insomnia is actually a combination of the two previous ones. When you have insomnia, you feel tired throughout the whole day. However, the later it gets, the more energy you get. For some reason, you are always tired when you wake up in the morning, but when you actually need to go to bed, you are wide awake.
4. You prefer to work in the evening hours.
You have a shifted sleep rhythm (tired in the morning – wide awake at night). Because of that, you often like to get work done in the evening as you have more energy at that time.
Personally, when I went to school, I always did my homework in the evening. I just could not concentrate during the daytime. A common sign of insomnia.
But that always causes difficulties socially. Especially when you have a partner who goes to bed earlier than you and you don’t feel tired at all.
5. You go to bed and wake up later than your partner.
That’s something everyone with insomnia knows. You can’t shut your eyes when your partner goes to bed at 10 pm. Insomnia forces you to stay awake longer and do something else. Oftentimes you just lie wide awake, but sometimes you chose to read something or do something on your smartphone instead. Mostly, you’ll go to bed more than an hour later than your partner (sometimes even 2 or 3 hours).
That causes you to be tired and groggy when he/she wakes you up in the morning. While your partner had a full night of sleep (8 hours) you ended up with just 5-7 hours (or less if you are unlucky). On the weekend you want to be left alone so you can keep sleeping for 2 to 3 hours. Not everyone who has a shifted sleep rhythm to his partner automatically suffers from insomnia. But the inverse is correct. If you have insomnia, you almost always have a shifted sleep rhythm compared to your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband.
6. Sometimes, you wake up in the middle of the night.
If you have insomnia, another sign is that you wake up in the middle of the night. Or sometimes you wake up 1 or 2 hours too early in the morning. This sign also goes hand in hand with other signs, for example not having a solid sleep schedule. Waking up in the middle of the night is also a sign of bad sleep quality and shallow sleep.
7. You feel sleepy during the daytime.
When you are at work, at school or at university you often feel sleepy. Especially in the morning hours, 7 am – 11 am. Insomniacs are mostly night-owls. Their natural sleep rhythm is genetically tied to being tired in the morning and wide awake at night. As long as you have insomnia and don’t establish your own sleep rhythm, you will always be tired during the morning hours.
Your natural night-owl sleep rhythm causes even more problems: When it’s weekend you finally have the opportunity not to get up early. So, you decide to sleep in. The problem is:
If you sleep in on the weekend, you destroy your sleep rhythm over and over.
A common mistake, people do when they have insomnia.
8. You have problems to focus and concentrate.
When you have insomnia, another sign is that you automatically have problems to focus and concentrate. Why? Well, when you sleep less than you need, even if it’s 6 hours a day instead of 8, your cognitive abilities suffer massively.
A study that was mentioned in the book “Why We Sleep” (click here to check the pricing on amazon) which I absolutely recommend to read, measured the cognitive capabilities of people who slept for 6 hours a day for a week compared to others who slept for 8 hours a day. Those who slept for 6 hours a day performed way worse in reaction tests and their ability to remember things was the same as of someone who didn’t sleep for 24 hours. That means sleeping for just 6 hours on a regular basis causes your ability to focus to degrade.
The worst is: You don’t even notice it.
9. You can’t fall asleep because you worry about not being able to fall asleep.
Everyone knows this. You have to wake up at a certain time tomorrow. However, you can’t fall asleep because you keep thinking about it. And because you keep thinking about it, you can’t fall asleep. The longer you stay awake, the worse it gets. That’s a typical sign of insomnia and every insomniac can relate to this.
Although this is a common problem, especially if you have an important appointment or exam the next day, insomniacs suffer from this issue regularly. Even when you need to go to work (as every day), you can’t fall asleep because you keep thinking about it. Then, you begin to panic about not being able to fall asleep and being tired at work all day and as a result, the panicking prevents you from actually falling asleep. It’s an infinite circle.
10. You feel demotivated and sometimes even depressed.
If you have insomnia, you often feel demotivated and sometimes even depressed. The lack of sleep shifts your mood. For example, it’s easy to get you to tears, you quickly become frustrated. You feel anger and you feel like you have less control over the situation (even if that’s not the case). The sleep deprivation makes you irrational and you overreact quickly. On top of that unexpected events overwhelm you quickly. That’s one of the worst signs of insomnia. Not only does it affect your fitness and health, but also your mind.
11. You fall asleep in inappropriate or even dangerous situations.
Sometimes the tiredness overcomes you and you fall asleep. Whether it’s at work, at school, in church or at your uncle’s birthday party. Falling asleep in these situations is inappropriate. But if you fall asleep driving a car it becomes really dangerous. Sleep-deprived driving is as dangerous as driving drunk. The worst is that when you have insomnia, you sometimes have microsleeps. These are short bursts of falling asleep where you lose control of all senses. Microsleep lasts only 1-3 seconds, but it is one of the main causes of accidents. See it that way: If you drive drunk, you can still react, but when you are tired and you fall into microsleep, you lost all control. You’re like a missile on the street.
Falling asleep in inappropriate situations is one main sign of insomnia.
12. You don’t wake up to alarms.
Insomniacs often don’t wake up from their alarm in the morning. I’ve experienced that sometimes. When I woke up 2 hours after the alarm rang, I had no idea how I could not hear it. Did I shut it off subconsciously? Did my alarm not ring? How could that happen?
Because not waking up to alarms is something many of you experience, here’s an article that will help you: What To Do If You Can’t Hear Your Alarm Clock? – How To Never Miss it Again!
Not hearing the alarm in the morning is either a cause of not having a proper alarm tone, or it is a sign of insomnia. If you have insomnia, you have problems with your sleep rhythm. That can cause you to experience a deep sleep phase right when the alarm goes off. At that time non-insomniacs would already slowly wake up because they have slept their full 8 hours.
If you ever had an argument with your partner about how you could not hear the alarm and instead he/she had to wake you up, that’s another sign.
13. You think you need to go to the toilet at night.
The brain of an insomniac makes up all kinds of excuses not to fall asleep. It generates its own problems for some reason. One sleep preventer your brain makes up at night when you lie in bed and try to fall asleep is the urge to go to the toilet. You stand up, enter the bathroom and … you didn’t need to go to the toilet. In an online discussion, one guy told me “I always get up to pee 30 times a night, without really having to pee, but being convinced every time that I have to”.
Thirty times is quite extreme but you get the point. Your brain makes up stuff. I suppose the reason is that you want to have the perfect sleep conditions as an insomniac. If something is odd, you won’t be able to fall asleep. So, your brain forces you to go to the toilet before you fall asleep to make sure you don’t have to get up when you sleep.
Your brain forces you to optimize your sleep conditions.
14. You are hyper-aware at night – you notice everything.
While others calm down and become tired at night, when you go to bed, your senses become even more active, which is yet another typical sign of insomnia. In the dark, you can hear even the slightest noise and you pay attention to things that distract you from sleep.
If you have insomnia, you often wake up to every noise. When a pet walks into your room. When your partner changes sleep positions and you even hear others that live in different areas in your house. You can’t fall asleep because someone on another floor walks around. Even if these noises are not really noticeable in the daytime, you absolutely hate them during the night.
There’s one simple solution to this issue. Please don’t miss it: Use earplugs.
Here’s exactly what you need to know as an earplugs beginner: Best Earplugs for Sleeping (a small guide)
15. You become sick often.
One song just popped to my mind: Papa Roach – Be Free, where they sing about being “Sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
Research has shown that the less you sleep, the more you become sick. The difference is enormous. Once, there was an experiment (actually a very nasty one) where the scientists sleep let one group of participants sleep for only 6 hours a day, while the other group of participants could sleep for 8 hours per day. Please note that a lot of people consider 6 hours of sleep to be acceptable.
The scientists injected the participants with the flu virus (of course with their consent) and measured the infection rate. In the group of sleep-deprived participants, about 40% got infected and sick in the following days. Whereas in the group of people who got 8 hours of sleep, the infection rate was only at 18%(!). The difference is enormous!
Sleep deprivation (and therefore also insomnia) makes you become sick 2-3 times more than other people.
Additionally, the chances of getting cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes type 2 increase drastically when you don’t sleep well. When you become sick a lot, that’s a sign of a bad immune system. A bad immune system is often caused by a lack of sleep.
16. Increased appetite – You eat more than others.
Another sleep experiment showed that when you lack sleep, you eat much more. And not only do you eat more, but you also choose to eat more of the unhealthy stuff. When you are sleep deprived, for some reason, your appetite increases. And because you are also emotionally less stable, you tend to binge eat sweets and fast food. You can associate the bad eating habits you have when you are tired of the shift of your mood. A lack of sleep does not only make you depressive, but it also makes you more sensitive to quick rewards – unhealthy food.
If you sleep enough, you’ll automatically eat less and healthier.
17. You sleep for 7 hours or less every single night.
Many people have a wrong understanding of insomnia. And that’s why I think this point is one of the most important in this article. They think that the symptoms of insomnia only apply to those who have extreme problems falling asleep. That’s not the case.
Everything I listed here (getting sick quickly, irrationality, increased appetite) already affects you if you sleep less than 7 hours. Too many people think they can get away with 6 or 7 hours of sleep at night. And that they can pay off their sleep-debt on the weekends. But that’s not the case. All the issues you see listed here already apply to you if you sleep 7 hours or less a day.
If you simply can’t sleep any more than 7 hours a day, that’s a sign of insomnia. Not in its most extreme form, but in a form that will make you sick and tired in the long run. The worst about it is that you won’t even notice it because you get used to it.
Never settle for 7 or fewer hours of sleep. Everybody needs 8 hours.
18. You research Sleep Improvement online.
When you have serious problems with your sleep you research sleep improvement online. And that’s probably the reason you’re on this website (we’ve got a lot of awesome sleep improvement guides for you!).
But research and interest are good signs that tells me you want to do something about your insomnia. It shows that you know about your current situation and that you are about to change it. Realizing an issue is always the first step towards solving it. Awesome! Keep going.
19. You don’t have a solid sleep schedule.
When you have insomnia, another sign is that you oftentimes don’t have a sleep schedule at all. And it’s hard, I know. Because it seems like you can’t control the times when your body falls asleep. That makes it hard for you to stick to your sleeping times every day. Especially on the weekends you take advantage of the free time and sleep in. But that destroys your sleep rhythm over and over. If you have insomnia, you should at all cost try to establish a sleep schedule. Sounds difficult? No, absolutely not. It’s a matter of habit and self-discipline. And in the long run, you’ll cure insomnia.
As long as you don’t have a sleep schedule you will be a prisoner of insomnia.
How To Stop Insomnia & Start Sleeping Again
Remember that knowing the signs of insomnia will not help you fall asleep better. You need to find ways to do something about them.
If you want a complete guide on how to start sleeping better again by building a powerful sleep-inducing evening-routine, check out our Natural Sleep Program.
You will be able to fall asleep much better within just 1-2 weeks. Check out Katie’s sleep results from the program here!
You’ll never lie awake in your bed again.
My favorite Sunrise Wake-Up Alarm Clock
My sunrise wake-up light alarm clock was by far the best investment I ever did! It completely changes the way I feel every single morning.
When you wake up with a sunlight alarm clock, you don’t feel tired anymore, because the light naturally wakes you up! You just have to try it.
Here’s my favorite sunrise alarm clock:
It wakes you up in the morning by simulating a sunrise! That’s extremely useful when you wake up very early in the morning every day.