We often hear “The older we get the less sleep we need”. As is the case with many popular myths, this is true in part! It is true that developing children need more sleep than fully-grown adults. Once a person reaches adulthood, however, their sleep needs remain relatively the same as the age.
We all know term “Sleep like a Baby”, let’s take a look at our sleep needs according to the National Sleep Foundation research.
According to the National Sleep Foundation:
Newborns 0- 3 months 14-17
Infants 4-11 months 12-15
Toddlers 1-2 years 11-14
Pre-Schoolers 3-5 years 10-13
Teenagers 14-17 years 8-10
Young Adults 18-25 years 7-9
Adults 26-64 years 7-9
Older Adults 65+ years 7-8
So, even thought we require the same amount sleep once we reach adulthood, 7-9 hours, what is most interesting to me is the historical understanding of how sleep has evolved with the introduction of modern technology.
Historical evidence from cultures around the world and recent research suggest the most natural sleep cycle is to sleep in shifts.
Sleep science research has proven that if deprive of light over a long period of time, over a month, and yes people do volunteer for this, people will naturally progress to sleeping for 4 hours. Wake for 1-2 hours. Then return to sleep for a second 4 hour sleep cycle. It is believed with the advent of artificial light, we have re-wired our internal clocks to fit our societal changes.
So, for all of us aging adults that find our sleep patter returning to a shift type sleep, relax. This is natural! Fill the awake time with productive activity like reading or paperwork maybe even light physical activity. It’s natural! You’ll sped an average of One-Third of your life doing it, sleeping!
Bottom Line: Sleep pattern do change as we age, but disturbed sleep nd waking tired every day are not part of normal aging. If you are having trouble sleeping see your doctor or you may need a new mattress!”