Sleep norms for all ages – getting the perfect dose each night

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Sleep fluctuates over our lifetimes. The amount of sleep we require changes as we mature into old age.  Below are some norms to help you answer the question - how much sleep should each of my family members be getting?

Neonate: The first month of life requires sleep for 15 - 16 hours interspersed throughout the day and night. Neonates should wake regularly to feed and fall asleep after 45 - 60 minutes of being awake.

Infant: The first year of life is characterised by dependency on mother for feeding and requires total sleep accrued to be 13 hours+ including any nap times. Infants are developing their biological clocks and so typically start having a longer sleep in the evenings. Unfortunately this is usually in the early evening eg. 7:00pm - 1am so get to bed as early as you can to capitalise on a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Child: The first 10 years of life require slightly less than 13 hours as nap times are phased out of the day. Little bodies are busy and young minds are growing so sleep is essential for laying down memory and sharpening skills practiced during the day.

Adolescent: The sudden onset of puberty causes rapid brain and body changes and a new need of 9 hours+ may see your social teen wanting to sleep in and being less than enthusiastic about waking for school. Research now shows that a fundamental adolescent development is the enlargement of the frontal lobe. This is the area of the brain above the eyes that is responsible for judgement, reason, insight and moral behaviour. This area continues to enlarge until 25 years. Sleep deprivation as well as alcohol or drug-use during these years can lead to frontal lobe dysfunction also known as an unruly teen forever.

Adult: Neurologically mature from 25 years old, adults require 7.5 - 9 hours in 90 minute sleep cycles. Adulthood spans many decades and so sleep requirements will be affected by activity level, work schedule. pregnancy, menopause and who is sharing your bed.

Pensioner: The last years. Old age is getting older as life expectancy increases. Adults over 60 years require 6 hours+ per day to maintain their physical and mental health. Often sleep is disrupted due to chronic conditions such as arthritis and previous injuries. Day time naps can be used to increase total sleep time accrued. A good mattress is essential to help minimize pain and discomfort.

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