Despite our routines becoming increasingly busy, the time we spend sleeping gradually reduces with age. As babies, our energy is solely devoted to resting and growing. As adults, we face never-ending work pressures, the obligation to attend multiple gym classes each week and the need to maintain an exciting social life. Our sleeping habits adapt to our biological needs and changing routines. So what does this entail?
How much sleep do we actually need?
Age is one of the key determinants of sleep requirements. Infants of less than 11 months old, typically sleep between 12 and 15 hours per day to support their rapid physical and mental development. During sleeping hours, blood supply to the muscles is increased, tissue growth and repair takes place and hormones promoting development are released. Hence, the more sleep infants get, the more they grow.
As we mature, we are far less reliant on sleep. Despite still going through significant physical and mental changes during puberty, teenagers should only sleep between 8 and 10 hours a night. This figure continues to reduce throughout life. By adulthood when we have reached full maturity, the optimum amount of sleep falls between 7 and 9 hours a night.
Seniors above the age of 65 are found to have more difficulty sleeping than any other age group. This cohort often wake during the night and rise naturally much earlier. According to consultant neurologist Dr. Lim Li Ling, this is the product of our bodies making reduced quantities of the chemicals and hormones which support sleep as we get older, such as Melatonin.
Why have our sleeping habits changed in recent years?
Nowadays, there are a plethora of external factors which influence our ability to attain a good night’s sleep. People’s daily routines are becoming increasingly busy and we work longer hours than ever before, engaging our brains until much later in the evening. Modern culture and the emergence of portable smart devices has created a number of sleep-interfering distractions. Before bed, we habitually pour over bright screens, streaming Netflix and scrolling through social media for the latest gossip and news. This keeps our minds active, delaying the process of falling asleep and reducing the quality of the sleep we have. As such, a large proportion of teenagers and adults feel tired throughout the day and alert during the night.
Dysfunctional sleeping patterns are proven to have a range of negative side effects. Long-term tiredness and fatigue during the day weakens our cognitive capacity in terms of concentration and attention. It even contributes to serious health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The importance of sleep at any age is indisputable. Sleep requirements are entirely dependent on our stage of development and how much growth is required to reach maturity. It is therefore unsurprising that the amount of sleep we require reduces with age, as determined by the level of sleep-promoting hormones released into the bloodstream.
Sleep requirements do not necessarily correspond with the sleep we obtain. With a host of variables interfering with our ability to sleep and weakening the quality of the sleep we get, it is important to eliminate barriers where possible. So how can we achieve this?
3 top tips for getting a good night’s sleep at any age…
1. Head to bed without your beloved phone or tablet. Give yourself time to wind down and avoid looking at these distracting devices in the hour before you go to bed.
2. Take a captivating book with you. Research shows that reading before bed is a fantastic method for tackling insomnia. It is proven to relieve stress by up to 68%, clearing the mind and preparing the body for sleep.
3. Why not whip up a warm cup of Benenox to take with you? When taken before bed, Benenox Overnight Recharge supplements your body’s stored energy levels supporting your ability to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
Sign up to the Benenox newsletter for more like this