Infancy (0-2 years): The Sleep of the Innocents
During infancy, babies spend a considerable amount of time sleeping, with new-borns sleeping for around 16-20 hours a day. However, their sleep is divided into short cycles, lasting only a few hours. The sleep-wake pattern is irregular, and infants often wake up frequently due to hunger, discomfort, or the need for a diaper change.
Early Childhood (2-12 years): Navigating Sleep Changes
As children grow, there is a gradual decrease in the total duration of sleep, settling into a more consistent pattern. Nightmares and night terrors may occur during this phase, affecting the quality of sleep. Establishing bedtime routines becomes crucial for promoting healthy sleep habits.
Adolescence (13-18 years): The Battle Against Biological Clocks
Teenagers experience a shift in their circadian rhythms, often leading to a preference for later bedtimes. This natural delay in sleep-wake cycles, combined with increasing academic and social demands, can result in inadequate sleep. Electronic devices further complicate matters by disrupting the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
Adulthood (19-65 years): Balancing Act
In adulthood, the recommended amount of sleep stabilises at 7-9 hours per night. However, external factors such as work stress, family responsibilities, and lifestyle choices can interfere with achieving optimal rest. The aging process also brings changes in sleep architecture, with a decrease in deep sleep.
Older Adults (65+ years): Navigating Sleep Challenges
As we age, sleep challenges become more prevalent for older adults. Falling asleep becomes more difficult, sleep becomes fragmented, and insomnia becomes more likely. These challenges are often caused by changes in circadian rhythms, health issues, and medications. Despite still needing 7-8 hours of sleep, older adults may find themselves taking more naps during the day. It is important to understand these changes in order to promote healthy sleep habits and address any sleep-related issues that may arise.
By recognising the evolving nature of sleep, we can prioritise our well-being and appreciate the significance of sleep at every age.
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