March the 16th is World Sleep Day. During this day, we seek to recognize the importance of this vital biological function and educate people on the subject. With this in mind, EnSueño will be celebrating sleep during March… and what better way to start that by talking about sleep throughout the lifespan?
So, what does sleep look like throughout the years?
• Newborns (<3 months).
Newborns tend to sleep between 11 and 19 hours a day. However, most babies usually sleep around 16 hours. Newborn sleep cycles usually last approximately 60 minutes, with 3 to 4 cycles happening in a row.
As you can probably imagine, at this stage, babies do not differentiate between day and night, that is why their sleep cycles are not dependent on the circadian rhythm.
• Babies (3 to 12 months).
At three months of age, sleep begins to regulate a little bit more, and the hours of sleep begin to decrease. During this stage, babies usually sleep between 12 and 15 hours a day.
In addition, from 6 months of age, babies begin to sleep throughout the night and start having clear naps (3 or 4) during the day.
Once they turn 1 year old, the little ones typically sleep between 11 and 14 hours, with a night's sleep between 10 and 11 hours. They also reduce their naps to only 2.
• Children from the age of two.
Two-year-old toddlers sleep between 11 and 14 hours, and they keep only one nap during the day (usually after lunch).
Then, around 4/5 years of age, the number of sleep decreases and naps are no longer necessary. At this age, they usually sleep between 10 and 13 hours at night.
After that, from the age of 6 and until adolescence, the amount of sleep decreases again: children begin to sleep between 9 and 11 hours.
During adolescence, individuals need 8-10 hours of rest. However, due to the developmental stage in which they find themselves and the social demands that this entails, their sleep is usually significantly less than necessary. Therefore, adolescents are one of the most sleep-deprived populations.
During adulthood, individuals typically sleep an average of 8 hours. However, this is only an average. Various population studies have found that adults can sleep between 6 and 11 hours without presenting sleep disorders.
Likewise, although naps are unnecessary, many people find this strategy very useful when trying to cope with the demands of modern life. The key when taking naps is to take them before 4:00 pm and keep them no longer than 40 minutes.
• Older adults (> 65 years).
During old age, individuals continue to sleep the same number of hours. However, sleep becomes lighter and more fragmented throughout the night, which decreases the overall quality of sleep.
Therefore, sleep complaints increase at this age, and the following phrases become frequent: "I no longer sleep like I used to" ... "I wish I could sleep like a 15-year-old".
Unfortunately, these sleep problems cannot be solved; however, good sleep hygiene can go a long way.
I hope this article has provided you with new and relevant information that allows you to understand sleep throughout your life.
Esteban, S., Gamundí, A., Nicolau, M.C., Rial, R.V., De la Calzada, M.D. & Giménez, S. (2017). Filogénesis y Ontogénesis del Sueño y la Vigilia. En Viguera (Eds.), Sueño: Fisiología y Medicina (pp. 104-136). Murcia, España.: Viguera.
National Sleep Foundation. (s.f.). How much sleep do we really need?. Retrieved from URL: www.sleep.org