How Sleep Varies As You Age

elderly man Sleep and sleep habits vary depending on age. As we grow older we become more vulnerable to sleep disorders. There is also the tendency to stay up late or to wake up earlier and it becomes harder to fall asleep and to stay asleep. These changes affect the quality of sleep and the amount of sleeping hours.

It is critically important for the survival of human beings that sleep needs to change as people grow and age. This is according to Christopher Drake, Ph.D., a sleep researcher at the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders and Research Center and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit who says that sleep is a critical state.

Children and sleep: Children sleep the most and need a lot of sleep. By two years of age, a child will have slept for a longer time than they were awake. Newborn babies will sleep an average 16 to 18 hours every day.  Children achieve the REM stage of sleep easily, even directly from wakefulness, unlike older kids and adults. They also spend a lot of time in the NREM stage of sleep. Both are as a result of the fact that their brains are still growing and the brain requires plenty of sleep.

Teenagers and sleep: Physical, emotional and social changes in teenagers have been implicated in the tousled relationship with sleep. Teenagers should sleep for at least eight and a half hours.  Changes in their circadian rhythm are to blame owing to the tendency to stay up late. The biological clock gets reset to later sleeping hours and it results to a disorder called delayed sleep phase syndrome. The problem ends up affecting normal sleeping hours and the amount of sleep required.

Adults and sleep: Adults require seven to nine hours of sleep and these may vary from person to person. The variability calls for adult to learn their sleep patterns and to allow themselves to sleep for the duration of time that leaves them refreshed throughout the day. 

Adulthood is also a time when the sleep disorders start creeping in and affecting quality of life. Women are the most affected by the sleep disorders which may occur during menstruation, pregnancy and during menopause. Some of the common sleep disorders are sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome and insomnia.

Seniors and sleep: In the advanced years of age, sleep disorders are very prominent. Chronic conditions are also a contributor to the disrupted sleep and low quality of sleep. Many seniors suffer from chronic deprivation of sleep.

A natural shift in the internal biological clock means that seniors get to bed earlier and that they get up earlier is a condition called advanced sleep phase syndrome. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medication found that seniors are mentally sharper if they got only 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Seniors who slept 9 or more hours and were evaluated for the study did worse on the tests. It is now clearer that as we grow older, less and less sleep is required.

Image  Courtesy of Ambro /

Somnowell Inventor - Visiting Professor Simon Ash FDS MSc MOrth BDS

Prof. Ash is the inventor of the highly successful SOMNOWELL Chrome device for snoring and sleep apnoea.

The Somnowell Chrome is made to exacting standards in the Somnowell laboratory under the supervision of Visiting Professor Simon Ash. Prof. Ash and his master technicians create each Somnowell Chrome device using their wealth of experience and expertise.

Prof. Ash works at the forefront of his profession. He is a Consultant and Specialist Orthodontist with over 30 years clinical experience, with a special interest in sleep related breathing disorders, TMJD, and bruxism. He currently works in Harley Street London and two private hospitals in London as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing snoring and sleep apnoea, and is Visiting Professor of Orthodontics at the BPP University.