Having trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep? You are not alone!
it is estimated that around one in four women experience insomnia at some point in their lives. Female insomnia can have a significant impact on women's health and quality of life, so it is important to understand its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Definition of female insomnia
Female insomnia is one of the most common sleeping disorders found in women, which can be defined as the inability to fall asleep, waking up too early in the morning, and/or feeling unrested for at least 3 days a week for at least 3 months in a row.
How many hours of sleep does a female need?
The amount of hours of sleep that a woman needs depends on the age and activity level of the individual.
An average woman needs about 6-9 hours of sleep on a daily basis
Is insomnia more common in men or women?
According to the Oxford Academy of sleep, females are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience insomnia than males.
Apart from other factors which we shall discuss in detail, some of the major causes for this could be due to hormonal changes during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
Why is insomnia more common in women?
There is no perfect study and answer to why insomnia is more common in women. That being said, one of the main causes of insomnia in women is hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, which can easily disrupt sleep patterns.
Women are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, which are known to cause insomnia. Additionally, women tend to have more responsibilities and stressors, such as caring for children and aging parents, which can also contribute to sleep difficulties.
Overall, the combination of hormonal changes and lifestyle factors makes insomnia more prevalent in women.
Types of female insomnia
Insomnia can be classified into two based on occurrence - primary and secondary.
- Primary insomnia: The type of insomnia which does not come under a symptom or side effect of a medication or medical condition.
- Secondary insomnia: The type of insomnia which comes as part of a symptom or side effect of a medication or medical condition.
Insomnia in females can also be classified based on experience as such:
- Sleep onset insomnia: The type that makes it difficult to fall asleep
- Sleep maintenance insomnia: The type that causes frequent awakenings during the night
- Early morning awakening insomnia: The type that causes waking up too early and an inability to fall back asleep.
Chronic insomnia: Insomnia can be classified as chronic insomnia if the condition (sleeplessness) persists for at least 3 months and above.
Causes of female insomnia
Some of the major causes of female insomnia include:
Lifestyle factors can also contribute to insomnia in women. These include:
- Irregular sleep schedule
- Lack of physical activity
- Eating a heavy meal before bedtime
- Consuming caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime
- Using electronic devices before bedtime
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Pregnancy and childbirth can cause sleep problems for women. Pregnant women may experience discomfort, back pain, and frequent urination, which can disrupt their sleep.
After childbirth, women may experience postpartum depression, which can also cause insomnia.(study)
Mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress, and depression can cause insomnia in women.
Women are more likely to experience these conditions than men, which may be one reason why insomnia is more common in women. (study)
Menopause is a time of significant hormonal changes for women. The decrease in estrogen levels can cause hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia.
Women who have gone through menopause are more likely to experience insomnia than women who have not. (study)
Bladder-related issues such as an overreactive bladder can lead to frequent urination at night, also known as nocturia.
This can mess up your sleeping pattern and cause insomnia. (study)
Chronic pain or medical conditions
Chronic pain and medical conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome can cause insomnia in women.
These conditions can cause discomfort and pain, which can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. (study)
Some medications that can cause insomnia in women include:
- Asthma medication
- Blood pressure medication
- Thyroid hormone medication
Symptoms of female insomnia
Some of the major symptoms of insomnia in females can include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up too early
- Feeling tired or irritable during the day
- Difficulty concentrating Increased risk of accidents or errors
- Anxiety, depression, and mental exhaustion.
Diagnosis of Female Insomnia
If you feel like you are facing Insomnia after reading the causes, types, and other factors of female insomnia mentioned above, then it is advised that you contact your healthcare provider for support.
They would diagnose you with any of the below-given measures:
- Medical history and physical examination
- Sleep diary/journal
- Sleep assessment and studies
Treatment of Female Insomnia
There are several treatment options for female insomnia, including:
Behavioral therapies focus on changing habits and behaviors that contribute to insomnia. These can include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
CBT-I is a specific type of therapy that helps people with insomnia change their thoughts and behaviors related to sleep.
It is an effective treatment for insomnia and can be done with a therapist or through self-help materials.
There are several medications that can be used to treat insomnia, including:
- Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics
It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medication for insomnia, as some can be habit-forming or have side effects.
There are several natural remedies that can be used to treat insomnia, including:
- Herbal teas
- Massage therapy
Bettering sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to habits and behaviors that promote healthy sleep. These can include:
- Keeping a regular sleep schedule
- Creating a relaxing sleep environment
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine close to bedtime
- Getting regular exercise
Prevention of Female Insomnia
Some of the key steps that you can take to avoid or prevent female insomnia are:
- Managing stress
- Practicing good sleep hygiene and making your bed comfortable
- Keeping a schedule
- Limit screen time
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects many women. It can be caused by hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle factors.
Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options for insomnia, including behavioral therapies, medication, natural remedies, and sleep hygiene.
If you think you may have insomnia, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
- PubMed(2020) - Gender Difference in the Prevalence of Insomnia: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies
- PubMed (2015) - Why is depression more prevalent in women?
- PubMed (2007) - Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences
- Zhang, B., & Wing, Y. K. (2006). Sex differences in insomnia: a meta-analysis.
- Baker, F. C., Sassoon, S. A., Kahan, T., Palaniappan, L., Nicholas, C. L., Trinder, J., & Colrain, I. M. (2012). Perceived poor sleep quality in the absence of polysomnographic sleep disturbance in women with severe premenstrual syndrome. Journal of sleep research
- PubMed (2018) - Sleep and Sleep Disorders in the Menopausal Transition