Causes of Insomnia in Females – How Does It Affect the Women?

Causes of Insomnia in Females

Several factors can contribute to insomnia in females. Majorly, it is due to some biological factors. Several social factors may also contribute to it. Sleep specialists can help females improve their sleep and treat the causes of insomnia in females.

What is insomnia?

Every year in the USA, about 1 in 3 individuals are affected by insomnia. It is a condition in which a person cannot fall asleep or face trouble while staying asleep.

The majority of the people only show mild symptoms for a short period – however, some have chronic insomnia. This condition is characterized as severe insomnia. It lasts for at least three days per week for at least 2-3 months.

Insomnia may affect anybody at any age, although it is thought to be more frequent in women than in men.

About 58% of females are more prone to insomnia. It can contribute to several other health conditions like strokes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.

There are multiple causes of insomnia in females. Estrogen and progesterone are two of the most important female hormones. These two are involved in the regulation of multiple processes of the body, including sleep regulation

A slight fluctuation in these hormones may disrupt sleep patterns. This fluctuation can occur during pregnancy and menstruation.

Other factors that may contribute to insomnia in females include anxiety, depression, and other stress disorders.

Symptoms of insomnia in females

Symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Sleepiness during daytime
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Mood and stress disorders
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Irritability

Why females are more prone to insomnia than males?

Everyone experiences different sleep patterns. It may emerge in the early years of life.

The quality of sleep may also vary among individuals of different age groups. Although, few studies have not seen any difference in sleep patterns during the early stages of life – both in boys and girls.

As we know – sleep is an ongoing process that is regulated by many factors – both internal and external. It can affect the females from their early years till menopause or even after that.  Learn more about why do we sleep?

Hormonal causes of insomnia in females

Hormones play a vital role in the body. They help regulate several functions like growth, metabolism, reproduction, and sleep.

Our body uses these hormones to coordinate with the other parts of the body by sending them messages.

Estrogen and progesterone – the two most important female hormones – work together to regulate sleep patterns. The level of these two hormones changes over time throughout the life of a female.

The following events may affect the level of these hormones in females:

  • Puberty
  • Menstruation
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Perimenopause (transitional time around menopause)

Estrogen and progesterone have the following sleep-related roles:

Breathing effects: It is related to progesterone. This hormone regulates breathing and improves the functions of the airways during sleep.

Hypnotic effects: Both hormones regulate the sleep cycles. They control the brain signals regarding sleep and wake cycles.

Sleep and perimenopause

Perimenopause is the time when a woman’s body is undergoing various changes that occur 2 to 10 years leading up to menopause.

Menopause is the stage when women’s periods stop. It is characterized by changes in periods along with other emotional and physical changes in the body.

A rapid change in hormones occurs during this period. As the hormones linked to this condition also have a role in sleep patterns, this shift may cause insomnia.

A lot of women face trouble while sleeping during this period. This may improve with time, but women will have a tough time getting back on track.

Some studies suggest that hormone therapy may be beneficial for those people, while some suggest that early diagnosis of stress disorders may help in improving the sleep cycles.  

Hormonal therapy may not work the same for every woman. So it is a good idea to discuss it with your doctor in detail.

Quality sleep and pregnancy

Quality of sleep is majorly disturbed in pregnancy. This is the moment when the fetus is developing and requires an abundance of energy.

Inside the body, hormones are also altering. All of these changes have the potential to have an immediate impact on sleep patterns. It may also affect sleep quality.

Women may experience a decline in both quality and duration of sleep. Usually, the symptoms get worst in the third trimester. According to a few studies, about 3 in 4 females face the problem of insomnia in pregnancy.

Sleep problems can extend to the postpartum stages of a women’s life. Depression after delivery is common. It may lead to the problem of insomnia.

Studies suggest that pregnancy can also trigger the onset of insomnia due to hormonal imbalances and changes in routine.

Sleep and stress disorders

Stress disorders like anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders may also contribute to insomnia in females.

Social factors also contribute to developing mood disorders in women. Women still have more responsibility than men regarding household chores and childcare. Even if someone is working outside – she still needs to take care of her family.

All these things contribute much to mood swings and stress disorders. That may increase the chances of insomnia. This is how daily life can impact women’s lives and their sleep cycles.

As women are at greater risk of developing stress or mood disorders, they are more likely to get insomnia than men.

Women are 50% more at risk of depression than males. It can be due to their biological processes, social pressures, and mental stressors.

Other factors that may cause insomnia in females are:

  • PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression
  • Medications
  • Alcohol or caffeinated beverages

How females can improve their sleep?

Improving sleep cycles and getting quality sleep is important for both males and females. As women are at greater risk of insomnia: they need to pay special attention to it.

You can take small steps to improve your sleep cycles.

  • If you are addicted to alcohol or caffeine, make sure to limit intake gradually.
  • Fix a proper time to sleep that suits you and strictly adhere to this routine.
  • Make sure to remove distracting things from your rooms. Use low lighting and attempt to make your sleeping environment as comfy as possible.

If you have done everything you can think of to improve your sleep and have not seen any results after 2-3 months, you should contact your doctor right away.

This is an indication of chronic insomnia. Your sleep specialist will suggest various things to improve the quality and amount of your sleep.

Your doctor will recommend various treatments, including medication, to improve your sleep cycles. You may undergo some sort of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

These therapies are found to be very effective. This therapy will examine the underlying cause of not getting quality sleep. It will help you make safe strategies to relax and improve your sleeping habits.

Insomnia in females can also be treated in other ways, like practicing yoga, meditation, and Pilates. However, in some cases, medication is also required to treat chronic insomnia.


There are many causes of insomnia in females. The risk emerges at puberty or with the onset of menstruation due to hormonal imbalances – however, the exact cause is still unknown.

Females go through different phases of life. The hormonal changes, social pressure, and mental stressors may contribute to insomnia in females.

Menopause, perimenopause, pregnancy, and other hormonal changes may also lead to sleep deprivation in females.

It is important to develop healthy sleeping habits. You may overcome this problem by implementing various strategies.

However, if your symptoms are not improving within 2-3 months, it is an indication of chronic insomnia. You need to visit your sleep specialist.

Your sleep specialist or doctor will help you overcome this problem. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, yoga, meditation, and Pilates are usually recommended.

However, in some cases, medications are given by doctors to treat insomnia.

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