It should be no surprise by now, that when it comes to sleep, there is no one-size-fits-all solution! Why should sleep durations be any different?
Ideal sleep durations and requirements vary as we age. There is so much more to sleep than how long we slept for, or what time we went to bed.
When we sleep, our body goes through a 90 minute sleep cycle. You need to go through this cycle and the stages of sleep multiple times a night for your body's optimal functioning!
The average sleepyhead will go through the sleep cycle 4 to 6 times in a night (and the amount of times you complete the cycle usually constitutes your sleep quality!) But, not everyone's sleep cycle are the same length - and vary based on your unique biology. Your age, sleep patterns, and lifestyle all play a part!
In case you need a sleep refresh (hey, we're here to help!), there are 4 stages that make up the sleep cycle.
Stages of Sleep
|Sleep Stage Name||Duration||What happens?|
|NREM1||1 - 5 Minutes||Transition stage where brain starts to slow from awake to sleep state|
|NREM2||10 - 60 Minutes||Muscles relax, body temperature drops and breathing/heart rate slow|
|NREM3||20 - 40 Minutes||Deep sleep stage, where body fully relaxes and restores for growth and recovery|
|REM||10 - 60 Minutes||Brain activity increases and body experiences changes (e.g. increased heart rate, fast breathing)|
How Much Sleep Do You Need (Based on Your Age)
|Age||Sleep Time Guideline|
|0 - 3 months||14 - 17 hours|
|4 - 11 months||12 - 16 hours|
|1 - 2 years||11 - 14 hours|
|3 - 5 years||10 - 13 hours|
|6 - 12 years||9 - 12 hours|
|13 - 18 years||8 - 10 hours|
|19 - 64 years||7 - 9 hours|
|65+ years||7 - 8 hours|
If you’ve noticed that it’s become harder to simply get a solid 7-9 hours rest than it was even a few years ago, it’s not your imagination.
Getting older affects sleep quantity and quality - it’s harder to fall asleep, stay asleep and, ultimately, achieve optimal sleep as we get older. What does not appear to change is how much sleep you need. Sleep needs do not actually change later in life! Although the amount of sleep adults need varies individually, typically you don’t need less sleep as we age.
Both biology and the stressors of life, which can accumulate over time, contribute to worsening sleep. As we get older, changes in our bodies make it harder to get a good night’s rest, and factors like medical conditions and financial and familial worries can compound our sleep troubles.
When we are younger, we enjoy relatively significant quantities of slow-wave sleep. This is the deep, restorative sleep also known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. As we grow into adults, our REM sleep begins to decline, and as elderly adults our REM sleep occurs less frequently and for shorter periods at a time, resulting in a lighter, more fragmented sleep.
The answer to evasive sleep? A sleep routine!
Here are our favourites to create a sleep routine worth keeping...