3 Reasons Women Are More Likely to Have Insomnia

No matter how tired you are, restful zzz’s can be evasive. Women experience this more often than men, thanks to a few factors.

2:57 PM

Author | Deirdre Conroy, Ph.D.

Women are twice as likely to have insomnia — the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep — as men. Much of this has to do with hormones, but some of it has to do with the ebbs and flows of a woman's life. Here are three common causes.

Hormones

There's a strong connection between hormones and sleep. In fact, when researchers study boys and girls and sleep, there are no differences until puberty starts. Then, at different times of the month, women and girls will sleep better than other times because of the fluctuations of their menstrual cycles. This sets the stage for poor sleep.

Other big hormonal milestones in a woman's life — pregnancy, the postpartum period and menopause — can also wreak havoc with regular schedules and sleep.

SEE ALSO: Insomnia and Postpartum Depression: When a New Mom's Sleep Loss Turns Perilous

Mood disorders 

Women are more prone to mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, leaving them more vulnerable to sleep problems. That's because many of the same chemicals in the brain that can be disrupted in mood disorders are also involved in regulating sleep.

The overlap of caregiver responsibilities and work 

Though roles are changing, women are more often the primary caregivers for children. Later on in life, women may end up being caregivers for their parents or their partner's parents. Some are doing double duty: caring for children and elderly parents at the same time.

In addition, women may be working outside of the home while caregiving. All of these activities decrease their sleep time.

Advice for insomniacs

Most people have insomnia at some time in their life for a few days or more. If the insomnia isn't interfering with your daily life or routines, don't worry.

On the other hand, if you have experienced insomnia three nights a week for three months or more, you have chronic insomnia and should seek the help of a health care provider, such as your physician or a sleep medicine specialist.

Want tips on falling and staying asleep? See six insomnia fixes from the U-M Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic here.


More Articles About: Health Management Insomnia Sleep Disorders
Health Lab word mark overlaying blue cells
Health Lab

Explore a variety of healthcare news & stories by visiting the Health Lab home page for more articles.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]

734-764-2220

Stay Informed

Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!

Subscribe
Featured News & Stories Breaking Down Mental Health on blue background and text inside a yellow head graphic
Breaking Down Mental Health
Depression and Sleep
In this episode, learn to understand the interplay between depression and how cognitive behavioral therapy can improve sleep.
illustration of man sleeping in bed with CPAP machine on
Health Lab
Free sleep clinic addresses disparities in treatment of sleep disorders
New sleep medicine service aims to combat sleep disorders and help reduce poor health outcomes for people without health insurance.
Woman sleeping on a couch holds her stomach, as if in pain
Health Lab
Long COVID-19 is linked to chronic pain conditions
Therapies for pain conditions like fibromyalgia provide clues for helping those with long COVID-19
Paxlovid pill green Covid medicine
Health Lab
A how-to guide to COVID treatments
A Michigan Medicine FAQ about Paxlovid, with new information since its FDA approval in May 2023.
Woman weighing herself and a scale measurement
Health Lab
Bariatric endoscopy for weight loss: What is it and how does it work?
A gastroenterologist discusses several non-invasive therapies for treating obesity
brain drawing
Health Lab
Insomnia, sleep apnea contribute to reports of cognitive decline in women with multiple sclerosis
New multiple sclerosis research finds insomnia, sleep apnea contribute to reports of cognitive decline in women.