Causes of Insomnia in Females: A Closer Look at Why and Coping Strategies

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on October 2, 2023
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Getting quality rest can sometimes feel like a distant dream in a world that never sleeps. This struggle is particularly pronounced among women, who are more likely to experience insomnia than men.

Insomnia isn’t just about counting sheep night after night; it’s a complex condition that can significantly impact physical and mental health. It invites daytime sleepiness, disrupts normal functioning, and can even contribute to anxiety and depression.

This article will explore the enigma of insomnia in women, delving into its causes and effects. We’ll closely examine how factors like hormonal changes, stress, and certain personality traits can trigger insomnia. Moreover, we will discuss various coping strategies, from lifestyle adjustments to cognitive behavioral therapy, to help manage this sleep disorder.

We aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of this common sleep issue, empowering you with knowledge and practical tools to improve your sleep and overall well-being.

So, let’s embark on this journey together and shed some light on the shadowy world of insomnia.

What is Insomnia?

What causes insomnia? - Dan Kwartler

Insomnia is a sleep issue that affects nearly half of women and a third of men occasionally.

Chronic insomnia lasts for months or even years and affects about 10% of adults. This sleep disorder can stem from hormonal changes, mental health issues, trauma, or a disrupted sleep schedule.

There are two main types of insomnia: primary and secondary.

  1. Primary insomnia has no known cause, while secondary insomnia stems from an underlying health issue or medication side effect.
  2. Either way, the lack of sleep caused by insomnia can lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk of health issues like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

About Insomnia

  1. Diagnosing insomnia involves medical exams, sleep studies, and sleep diaries to track sleep habits and rule out other issues.
  2. Treatments for insomnia can include cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, limiting screen time before bed, and medication.
  3. Prescription sleep aids should only be used under medical guidance due to risks like daytime drowsiness and drug interactions. Generally speaking, behavioral adjustments are more effective.

Insomnia in Women

The Sleep Foundation notes insomnia is significantly more common in women than men, with some estimates placing the lifetime risk of insomnia 40% higher in women.

The causes of insomnia in females can range from sex and gender differences to medical or mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Hormones may play a significant role in sleep patterns for women and people assigned to females at birth. This includes the onset of menstruation, during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause.

Other factors contributing to troubled sleep for females include mental health conditions, poor sleep habits, circadian rhythm disorders, nocturia due to urinary problems, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), and parasomnias such as nightmares.

Pros and Cons of Insomnia Treatments

As we navigate the realm of insomnia treatments, it’s essential to understand that each method carries its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s delve into these.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

Pros: CBT-I can help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and actions that keep you awake. It’s considered adequate and doesn’t involve the potential side effects of sleep medications.

Cons: However, CBT-I requires effort and patience. You might have to keep a sleep diary for a week or two, and your sleep patterns and daytime alertness might worsen before they improve.

Prescription Sleep Medications

Pros: Prescription sleep medications can provide immediate short-term relief for chronic Insomnia. They can help you fall asleep faster and reduce the frequency of waking up during the night.

Cons: These medications can have side effects, including daytime drowsiness, cognitive impairment, dependency risks, and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids

Pros: These are readily available and can help with occasional sleep problems.

Cons: Long-term use is discouraged due to potential side effects like daytime drowsiness, confusion, constipation, and urinary retention.

Alternatives to Traditional Insomnia Treatments

If conventional methods aren’t working for you, don’t lose hope! There are alternative treatments you might want to consider.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can help you direct your focus away from stressors and promote relaxation, thereby improving sleep.


Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, has been used to treat Insomnia. Some research suggests it may improve sleep quality.

Yoga and Tai Chi

These gentle exercises incorporate elements of mindfulness and stretching, which can reduce stress and promote better sleep.

For more sleep info and treatments for insomnia, please see the following Online Mental Health Review articles: Stellar Sleep review, CBT-I steps, CBT-I for insomnia, CBT-I online, CBT-I sleep diary, insomnia in females, subthreshold insomnia, insomnia test resources, somnologists, and causes of female insomnia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can Insomnia be cured?

A: While there’s no silver bullet to “cure” insomnia, many treatment options can help manage symptoms and improve sleep quality. It often requires a combination of lifestyle changes and professional treatment.

Q: Is insomnia a symptom of a mental health disorder?

A: Insomnia can be both a cause and a symptom of mental health disorders. Anxiety and depression, for instance, can disrupt sleep. Conversely, lack of sleep can exacerbate mental health conditions.

Q: How long does insomnia last?

A: The duration of insomnia varies greatly. Acute Insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks, usually triggered by stress or a traumatic event. Chronic Insomnia lasts for months or even years.

Remember, if you’re struggling with insomnia, you’re not alone. Contact healthcare professionals who can guide you toward the best treatment options for your unique situation.

Sleep is crucial for our well-being, and it’s worth taking steps to improve it.


In wrapping up our deep dive into insomnia in women, it’s clear that this sleep disorder is a significant issue beyond simple sleeplessness. It impacts physical and mental health, daytime functioning, and overall quality of life.

We’ve learned that insomnia’s causes are complex, with factors like hormonal changes, stress, and certain personality traits playing crucial roles.

Equally important, we’ve explored various coping strategies. From lifestyle adjustments like maintaining consistent sleep schedules and limiting caffeine intake, to more formal approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy, there are many ways to manage insomnia and improve sleep quality.

But remember, everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to find what suits you best and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed. And while the road to better sleep might seem long, every step you take brings you closer to those peaceful nights of rest.

Keep in mind that understanding and managing insomnia is not just about getting more sleep—it’s also about improving your overall well-being and living a healthier, happier life.

So here’s to better nights and brighter days ahead!

Emergency Situations:

Waiting for an online therapy session may be risky if you are in a critical situation. In such instances where immediate assistance is needed, please dial 911. This includes any plans or thoughts of causing harm to yourself or others. If suicidal thoughts are present, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by simply dialing 988 – this service operates 24/7. Alternatively, you can contact the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 800-662-HELP (4357). The SAMHSA helpline offers a free, confidential service around the clock every day of the year, providing information and facilitating access to treatment for individuals struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders.

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