Sleep hours vary between ages. The amount of sleep an infant needs is very different from that of an adult and vice versa. For babies, the fast growth and development they undergo demand plenty of good sleep. In a study by Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, 10 studies on infant sleep and cognition were reviewed. The findings indicated a positive association between sleep, memory, language, executive function, and overall cognitive development in developing infants and young children. While adults no longer grow as infants do, they still need sleep to function. In this series, we’ll be exploring sleep hours across various age groups and will be taking a look at what happens when we don’t get enough quality sleep.
Infants and children need plenty of sleep in order to improve their cognitive functions, consolidate memory and grow physically. This is the time when they absorb huge amounts of information. Sleep serves as a facilitator for their development so it’s important to ensure they get plenty of sleep. Newborns and infants up to about three months old need about 14 to 17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. As they reach the age of one, they tend to sleep through the night and take a couple of naps during the day. Toddlers between 1 and 3 years need about 11 to 14 hours of sleep. During this age, it’s common for them to experience sleep problems like nighttime awakenings and even a refusal to sleep. They may have nightmares and may suffer from separation anxiety.
Preschoolers still sleep for about 11 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period. However, they don’t typically nap during the day. At this age, children have vivid imaginations and a lot of energy, which can keep them up at night. You’ll need to remove distractions from the bedroom such as televisions and games.
School-age children need around 9 to 11 hours of sleep. Since they have responsibilities like performing well at school, homework, extracurricular activities, etc. they need better sleep. Conversely, these added responsibilities, coupled with distractions which include screen time, can also interfere with sleep so it’s important to help them get the rest they need.
Teenagers and young adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep. This is because they’re still developing during this period and sleep can improve their cognitive functions, memory, and mood. Unfortunately, tweens, teens and young adults don’t always fulfill their sleep needs. Media, the internet and video games often serve as distractions and keep them from getting enough sleep. This can interfere with their functioning and prevent them from doing well at school and in college. If sleep deprivation becomes chronic, it can impact their mental wellbeing and increase the risk of anxiety and depression.
A rule of thumb to know if your child is getting enough sleep is to pay attention to their behavior. If they consistently feel sleepy during the day, it could be that they’re not getting quality sleep even if they spend 9 hours in bed.
Adults also need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. The demands of work and family mean requires you to get enough rest. It will help you manage stress and anxiety, perform better at work, and juggle different aspects of life. Like youngsters, it’s common for adults to sleep less than they need to. Stress and distractions often come in the way. A fairly common habit is to try to make up for sleep on the weekends and holidays. However, this might end up ruining your sleeping patterns.
Contrary to what many believe, your sleep needs remain the same in your 30s and 40s as they did in your 20s. You still require 7 to 9 hours of good sleep. However, factors like stress, sleeping disorders, work, and family responsibilities can keep you up at night. When you don’t get enough sleep, you may find yourself even more stressed out, irritable and unable to focus. You may feel excessively sleepy during the day and may microsleep where you fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes in the day.
Poor sleep affects all of us, independent of age. It limits our ability to learn and concentrate, as well as increased irritability. Children may become drowsy or fall asleep at school, which can hamper their learning. Their growth may suffer too; the body produces human growth hormone during sleep, which aids in growth and overall development. If children don’t sleep well, they can’t reap its benefits. Lack of sleep can also put us at risk of infections and illnesses as it suppresses the immune system.
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One of the best ways to ensure better sleep is to stick to a sleep routine. This means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day. It’s especially important for children who may otherwise insist on staying up late and even resisting going to bed. Following a sleep schedule teaches the body and mind a routine, which will be beneficial for the quality of sleep and overall well-being.
Across all ages, bedrooms should be quiet, dark and a little cool, which are necessary to encourage sleep. They should be devoid of distractions like laptops, phones, and video games. Using a good mattress is important too as it provides the comfort and support you need to sleep well. The Nuvanna mattress can help as it’s designed for this purpose. The brainchild of a materials scientist with over 20 years of experience, it features three layers that address three common sleep disruptors. The top layer regulates body temperature with the help of phase-changing gel particles. The middle layer isolates motion so you and your bed partner can move without disturbing the other. The bottom layer provides support to the body and protects the spine by keeping it aligned.
While we do our best to prioritize other aspects of life like doing well at school, performing well at work or taking care of the family, we often forget to give sleep its due importance. We need to remember that we can’t function without it. Beginning today, learn to make it a priority. We’ll be back with part 2 of our series where we’ll be covering sleep hours for the ages of 40 to 80.