Sleep gives our bodies the opportunity to repair themselves and our minds a chance to rest. Without enough sleep, we feel irritable and inefficient, and we are less able to concentrate on our daily tasks. Each individual needs a different amount of sleep, but most people do best with 8-9 hours per night. The amount of sleep we need to revitalize and function efficiently during the day also changes as we grow older. Young babies sleep for up to 18 hours each day, but as we age the amount of time sleeping usually ends up at a 7 hour per night average. We also tend to wake more during the night as we age and take longer to get to sleep in the first place.

These are normal sleep patterns that alter as we progress through life. Insomniacs, on the other hand, have regular difficulty in falling asleep, wake frequently and are restless throughout the night, and often wake early only to feel tired during the day. The effects of a few broken nights are not serious but, for insomniacs, sleeplessness can last years. They frequently find themselves in the relentless, vicious circle of overtiredness and worrying so much about the need for sleep that they cannot relax.

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