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How much sleep do you need? 

Trouble sleeping is the most widely reported psychological disorder in the UK, affecting 30% of the population.

Insomnia is defined as difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty staying asleep or having non-refreshing sleep.

It means that these difficulties happen three or more times a week, they persist for at least a month, and can affect our ability to function properly during the day.

Persistent insomnia can affect personal lives and performance at work and delay recovery after your illness. It’s also a major cause of depression.

Symptoms can include lying awake for a long time before falling asleep, waking up several times in the middle of the night, waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep, feeling tired and unrefreshed by sleep, inability to concentrate during the day and irritability due to lack of sleep.

Most people with insomnia report having low energy during the daytime but few of them feel sleepy. Instead, they stay in a wakened state, feeling tired, lethargic and without vitality.

How much sleep do we need?

Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep each night. Some people can feel perfectly rested with a lower amount. Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is well known for needing only four hours of sleep a night.

Newborn babies can sleep for 16 hours a day, while school-age children need an average of ten hours. Most people over 70 years old tend to be light sleepers and need less than six hours sleep a night.

So how much sleep do we need? Simply put, you need enough to make you refreshed and able to function efficiently throughout the next day. The number of hours depends on the completely on the individual.

Insomnia is more common among older people and among women. Gender differences can probably be explained by differences in lifestyle, hormones, and perhaps the fact that fewer men report these problems.

Factors such as periods, the menopause, pregnancy and child rearing can all contribute to insomnia.