Clinical assessments of sleep and subjective state upon waking were performed in normal controls and patients with generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, primary dysthymia and major depression. Subjects were selected according to DSM-III-R criteria. As compared to normal controls, patients with generalised anxiety, dysthymia and major depression exhibit pervasive and intense complaints of insomnia, and no clear distinctions can be drawn among these groups. Patients with panic disorder do not differ from normal controls, whereas obsessive compulsive patients present limited sleep symptoms. These findings suggest that subjective sleep variables are relevant for the diagnostic discrimination of panic and obsessive-compulsive disorders.