Quantitative criteria for insomnia

K. L. Lichstein, H. H. Durrence, D. J. Taylor, A. J. Bush, B. W. Riedel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

425 Scopus citations


Formal diagnostic systems (DSM-IV, ICSD, and ICD-10) do not provide adequate quantitative criteria to diagnose insomnia. This may not present a serious problem in clinical settings where extensive interviews determine the need for clinical management. However, lack of standard criteria introduce disruptive variability into the insomnia research domain. The present study reviewed two decades of psychology clinical trials for insomnia to determine common practice with regard to frequency, severity, and duration criteria for insomnia. Modal patterns established frequency (≥3 nights a week) and duration (≥6 months) standard criteria. We then applied four versions of severity criteria to a random sample and used sensitivity-specificity analyses to identify the most valid criterion. We found that severity of sleep onset latency or wake time after sleep onset of: (a) ≥31 min; (b) occurring ≥3 nights a week; (c) for ≥6 months are the most defensible quantitative criteria for insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-445
Number of pages19
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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