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Kate Dyson


Kate is a content writer, social media obsessive and community creator. She's also mum to three kids, two dogs and unsurprisingly, a lover of wine.

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For words you might want to know more


A sleep disorder characterized by persistent difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep, which is the primary focus of the article.


The practice of taking vitamins and minerals to support health, which is discussed in the context of managing insomnia in the article

Pelvic Exercises

Regularly practicing pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels, can strengthen the muscles controlling urination, helping to manage bladder weakness while travelling.

Can't Sleep, Won't Sleep: Insomnia in women over 40

Insomnia can start for many reasons at any age, but it's prevalence in women over 40 can be attributed often to the menopause and hormone imbalances, as well as anxiety, depression and stress.

A Close Look at Insomnia

Let's begin with what insomnia is. It’s more than just one bad night's sleep; it's a persistent problem that saps your energy, mood, and ability to function during the day. Chronic insomnia, specifically, is when you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, for at least three nights a week for three months or more.

The consequences of insomnia stretch beyond simple fatigue. It can affect your overall health, work performance, and quality of life. Struggling with insomnia can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety, it can exacerbate chronic conditions, and even impact social relationships.

Perhaps surprisingly, women are nearly twice as likely to experience insomnia as men. This ratio worsens as women age, particularly post 40. Much of this disparity can be attributed to the unique biological and hormonal changes women experience through their life.

What causes insomnia?

There are various reasons why insomnia starts and it can affect women from all walks of life, but some are more prone due to various factors.

Let's take a look:

Hormonal Changes

The roller coaster of hormones that women experience, particularly around their 40s, has a profound effect on their sleep. The transition to menopause, perimenopause, often begins in our early 40s and brings along fluctuating hormone levels. This can cause night sweats and hot flashes, both notorious sleep disrupters.


One prevalent cause of insomnia in women over 40 is nocturia, a condition characterised by excessive urination during the night. It's normal to wake up once or maybe twice during the night to empty your bladder, but those with nocturia may find themselves waking up three, four, or even more times.

Often, nocturia becomes more common with age due to changes in the body's production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which regulates urine production. Conditions such as urinary tract infections, bladder prolapse, and menopause can also contribute to the development of nocturia in women. For those suffering from nocturia, the persistent disruption of sleep patterns can directly lead to insomnia or exacerbate existing sleep difficulties. Addressing this condition is, therefore, a vital component in managing insomnia in this age group.

The Impact of Lifestyle

Your daily habits play a critical role in determining your sleep quality. Consuming alcohol or caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime can cause frequent awakenings. Irregular sleep schedules or engaging in mentally stimulating activities before bed can also make it difficult to fall asleep.

The Burden of Stress and Anxiety

An active mind can often be an insomniac's worst enemy. Women over 40 are often shouldering multiple responsibilities, such as work, raising children, caring for ageing parents, and maintaining social relationships. The stress and anxiety that result from these can significantly contribute to insomnia.

Health Conditions and Insomnia

Several medical conditions, more common in women over 40, like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, can disrupt sleep. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and other sleep disorders become more prevalent with age and often co-exist with insomnia.

Insomnia and Mental Health Disorders

Insomnia is often a symptom of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, both of which are more common in women than men.

The Risks: More Than Just a Sleepless Night

Beyond feeling tired and irritable, chronic insomnia can significantly affect your physical and mental health. It can increase your risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. It's also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and weakened immune function. Furthermore, sleep deprivation has societal and economic implications, such as reduced work performance and increased risk of accidents.

Solutions: From Self-help to Medical Interventions

Fortunately, whether through the NHS or private healthcare, there are various treatments available in the UK.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

CBT-I, available on the NHS, is often the first line of treatment. This form of therapy involves making changes to your sleeping habits and challenging and changing unhelpful thought patterns about sleep. This method has been found to be highly effective for many patients.


If CBT-I is not successful, your doctor may consider medication. While sleeping pills can provide short-term relief, they are not usually recommended for long-term use due to potential side effects and the risk of dependency.

Self-help Strategies

Lifestyle changes can also go a long way in managing insomnia. Regular physical activity, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and creating a restful environment are just a few self-help strategies. Equally, adopting relaxation techniques and ensuring a balanced diet can support sleep.

Supplementation for Managing Insomnia

While they should not replace any treatment prescribed by a doctor, certain vitamins and minerals can help manage insomnia.


Magnesium, often called "nature's tranquilliser", can enhance sleep quality. It works by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for making you feel calm and relaxed.

Vitamin D

Research suggests that there's a significant correlation between vitamin D deficiency and sleep disorders, including insomnia. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that optimal levels of this vitamin are necessary for maintaining sleep health.


Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by our body to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Over-the-counter supplements can be helpful for those whose natural production is disrupted, especially in cases of circadian rhythm disorders.

Pumpkin Seed to Ease Nocturia

Supplementation can also help with related issues like nocturia. Look for supplements that contain pumpkin seed - Jude's Daily Support Supplement is an excellent source of pumpkin seed and, in clinical trials, has proven to reduce night time wees by up to 79%.

Before starting any supplement regimen, always consult your doctor to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Insomnia can be an arduous journey, but understanding its causes and knowing how to seek help can significantly improve your quality of life. And always remember, you're not alone in this - countless women are experiencing similar sleep disturbances. Reach out, seek help - you can find peer support through our community, Jude and Friends too!