What causes insomnia in women?

Updated at: May 30, 2012
What causes insomnia in women?
Dr Poonam Sachdev
InsomniaWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Mar 27, 2012

Causes insomnia in womenInsomnia is more common in women as compared to men according to studies. There are many possible causes of insomnia. The common causes of insomnia are listed below.

Stress: Any stressful event such as loss of job, financial problem, health issue, divorce, death or illness of a loved one, can lead to insomnia and the problem may persist even after the stress has been resolved.

Psychiatric problem: Insomnia can be caused due to many underlying mental health problem such as mood disorders (such as depression, bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders (such as generalized anxiety, panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder), and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Physical condition: Any major or painful physical problem can cause insomnia. Insomnia can be caused by physical problems such as:

  • heart disease, such as chest pain (angina), congestive heart failure.
  • lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma.
  • neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, stroke.
  • hormonal imbalance such as overactive thyroid, pheochromocytoma, menopause.
  • arthritis, joint or muscle problems.
  • diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as gastro-esophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome.
  • genital or urinary problems such as incontinence or an enlarged prostate.
  • sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, sleep apnoea.
  • chronic (long-term) pain, neuropathic pain.

Drug and substance abuse: Excessive alcohol intake, use of recreational drugs, excessive caffeine intake, and nicotine can cause insomnia.

Medication: Medications (prescribed or over-the-counter medicines) can cause insomnia. Some of the prescription medications that can interfere with sleep include antidepressants, epilepsy medicine, some medicines for asthma, such as salbutamol, salmeterol and theophylline, blood pressure reducing medications, allergy medications, stimulants, and corticosteroids. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, which may cause insomnia include pain medication combinations, decongestants and weight-loss products, as these may contain caffeine and other stimulants. Discuss with your doctor about all your medications (prescription and non-prescription).

Causes of insomnia in women: Most causes of insomnia in men and women are same but some common causes of insomnia in women include:

  • Stress: The demanding lifestyle in today’s world (responsibility of the family and at work) can cause fatigue and stress. Stress is one of the commonest causes of insomnia.
  • Age:  Insomnia becomes more common with age. Women older than 40 are more prone to suffer from insomnia, as compared women in the 20’s and 30’s.
  • Pregnancy: In woman another cause of insomnia includes pregnancy. Many pregnant women feel sleepy during the day but may find it difficult to sleep well at night especially in the first trimester. The condition may improve in second trimester and then again worsen during the third trimester due to size of the abdomen and the discomfort and aches and pains of pregnancy.
  • Menopause: The hormonal changes cause hot flashes and night sweats---these are supposed to cause insomnia during menopause. Women during menopause can find it difficult to fall asleep and maintain a good sleep at night.

Consequences of Insomnia: Note that there are many adverse effects insomnia in woman more serious than what most people may imagine.  It can affect your health, work performance, ability to concentrate, and overall well-being. If you have insomnia do not ignore your symptoms consult a health professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.




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