The cycle of life affects us in ways we never thought possible. They way we sleep is one area that seems to change throughout the aging process. It’s not so much the aging process that brings about these changes, it likely has more to do with what’s going on in our lives at certain ages.
If you have experienced changes in your sleep patterns over the years, your curiosity might need some quenching. The discussion below is going to focus on how people should expect to sleep at certain stages of their lives.
Infancy and Childhood
Babies and young children seem to have very few issues with sleep unless there’s underlying psychological problems (abuse) that interfere with the sleeping process. For the most part, babies sleep most of the day/night as their minds and bodies grow at rapid rates. As children grow bigger and older, the amount of sleep they need drops to approximately 10 hours a day. It’s one of the reasons doctors recommend children who don’t get enough sleep at night to try to take a little nap during the day.
Adolescence and Teenagers
By the time children reach adolescence, their bodies are growing and their hormones are raging. They still need a lot of sleep, but many times, they are dealing with distractions (school, friends) that decrease their desire to sleep. At this time in life, kids require about 8 hours of sleep for optimum functioning. Very seldom will an adolescent take a nap unless exhausted.
As adolescents hit their teenage years, their lives and bodies are in conflict. They are busy living life with a high level of energy. At the same time, their bodies are still changing, demanding rest. The teenage years are the years kids start staying up later and waking up earlier. If a teenager can manage to get 7 hours of sleep a night, that’s a good thing.
Once someone clears school and heads out into adulthood, the stress of everyday life kicks in. If there are going to be sleep issues, this is the time of life when those issues might start.
The causes of sleep issues can include depression, stress, physical problems, distractions and lifestyle issues. With young adults overly fixated on career, dating, starting a family and debt issues, it’s a win if they can manage to get 5 to 6 hours of sleep at night.
As people mature, the ailments of aging takeover. Mature adults might get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night, but it’s usually an erratic light sleep. Health issues and prostate problems can cause mature adults to sleep lighter and awaken more often. They often try to compensate for their erratic sleep habits by spending more time in bed under the guise of getting rest. They also tend to revert back to needing naps. When all is said and done, the erratic sleep often translates to sleep issues like insomnia and restless leg syndrome. The solution more often than not is finding the right mattress for each individual’s needs.
These are simple guidelines about sleep during the cycle of life. You can use this information to compare where you are age-wise to how you should be sleeping at this point in your life. Based on what you discover, you’ll know if changes are necessary.
Photo by Christopher Jolly on Unsplash