Your partner wakes up at 6 am, all fresh and energetic, while it takes you another 2 or 3 hours to show a leg. On the other hand, you don’t get ready for bed before midnight, where your better half has already been comatose for a couple of hours. In other words, your partner is a lark and you are an owl. The two of you probably have more or less the same sleep need - most adults need 7-9 hours sleep each night. But during our lives, our sleeping habits change immensely.
Amount of sleep and age
Do you know the phrase “sleep like a baby”? Anyone who claims that has clearly not been in the presence of a sleeping baby. Baby sleep is typically scattered across 4-9 naps a day and full of grunts, little cries and sudden jerks. New-born babies sleep up to 17 hours a day, but the need for sleep slowly decreases until adulthood, where it stabilises. The biggest change in children’s sleep probably occur when they stop napping during the day (from 3-5 years). From there they sleep up to 11 hours a day until they reach the teenage years. Contrary to what you would think, teenagers don’t need much more sleep than rest of us. However, their circadian rhythm changes so they get ready for sleep later in the evening and consequently, wake up later too.
When we meet that significant other, we adjust each other’s sleep habits and some of us benefit from the increased sense of safety that comes along with nocturnal company. But then, for some people, kids happen and suddenly you become aware that you haven’t previously appreciated your sleep nearly enough. A sleeping baby is no guarantee that you can find the peace to sleep too. You might also end up losing shuteye because you spend your time just looking at your adorable, sleeping child.
As kids grow older, you don’t have to adjust to their circadian rhythm any longer. They get up by themselves, and there is no longer need for goodnight stories and lullabies. You just might be able to return to your own, old sleeping habits. After years of external governance, it can be a bit difficult for the body and mind to turn back, but if you follow our sleeping tips in the bottom of this post you might end up happy with your own sleeping habits again.
There is a myth that when you grow old, you need less sleep, but surprisingly, the need for sleep doesn’t change in old age. However, some elderly people find that it takes them longer to fall asleep, that they wake up more frequently during the night and earlier in the morning. This way they end up getting less sleep than they actually need.
As always, there are quite a few actions that you can take to get some better sleep. No matter your age, the advice stays the same.
How to get a good night’s sleep
- Avoid big meals before bedtime
- Avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks for 4 hours before bed
- Avoid exercise at least 3 hours before bed
- Avoid blue light from electrical devices at least 1 hour before bedtime
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning – even on the weekends
- Create a nice, relaxing bedtime routine for yourself - read our sleep advice here