Do you need less sleep as you get older?

Have you ever seen a baby and been envious of the long hours of sleep it is capable of? On the other hand, getting a teenager to sleep is quite the task. Though sleeping patterns differ from one person to the other, experts have found that it also has a lot to do with one’s age.

As we grow older, the sleeping requirements of our body reduce gradually. A new born is advised to be allowed to sleep for at least 14 to 17 hours a day. Infants between 4 to 11 months usually need 12 to 15 hours of sleep, while toddlers and pre-school goers should get at least 11 to 13 hours of sleep. From 6 years onwards, the sleep requirements slowly start decreasing. Between 6 to 17 years of age, one does not need more than 10 hours of sleep each day. The sleeping patterns stabilize completely as one reaches the age of 18, post which they only require 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

The sleeping requirements change with age because of reasons that experts have linked to physiological growth. When we are young, we need more sleep because of the several physiological processes that take place within the body, and the maximum amount of growth takes place when we are asleep. So, when a baby sleeps, he is actually growing at a speed optimal for his body. Physiological growth gradually slopes down through the age and stabilizes completely when one reaches 18. Consequently, our sleeping requirements reduce too.

However, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is sacrosanct. “As we get older, we need lesser and lesser hours of sleep. But never less than 7 hours. That is the minimum you need, to maintain a healthy faculty.” says Dr. Nikita Deshmukh, Apollo Clinic Kondapur (Hyderabad).  Even though our body does not undergo any major growth in terms of height or size once we reach adulthood, it still needs to generate new cells, repair worn out tissues and perform other bodily functions. And, for that to happen we will need to give our body at least the minimum amount of sleep prescribed.

Dr. Nikita Deshmukh goes on to add that sleeping patterns get disturbed because of our lifestyle. In order to get a good night’s sleep and ensure that you meet the daily 7 hours mark, you should “Eat early, sleep early and switch off that phone as soon as you go to bed.”

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