Sleep at Different
Life Stages

Our bodies require different amounts of sleep at different stages of our lives. The type of sleep differs, too. Following are some of the aspects of sleep as different stages in your life to which you may or may not relate.


Newborn to Teens

Newborns spend from 16 to 20 hours asleep each day, with up to 50% of their sleep in the REM stage. Babies go from an erratic sleep/wake cycle to a more consistent one of sleeping through the night and napping once or twice in the daytime as they move through toddlerhood. Between the ages of one and four, total daily sleep time is about 11 or 12 hours. By six or seven, most children have stopped taking naps entirely and sleep is consolidated during the night. The hours of sleep gradually decline throughout childhood such that an adolescent will need—though not necessarily get—about nine hours of sleep to function at his or her best. Grade-schoolers tend to sleep well, going to bed early and waking up early. However, during the teen years, there is a natural shift towards going to bed late and rising late. By early adulthood, most people have figured out whether they are early birds or night owls.

20s and 30s

Adults through middle age need at least eight hours. The majority of people become parents during these decades however, and parenthood is notorious for being a sleep disrupter. Infants need to eat every few hours, and it is rare for a baby to let his or her parents slumber as long as they would like.


40s and 50s

Children usually no longer need you at night at this point in your life, but just when women think they will be able to settle into a happy sleep pattern, they become menopausal. It is well known among sleep experts that women going through menopause or perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause, which can last for years) are at tremendous risk for sleep disturbances. Hormones are shifting all over the place, leading to sleep-disrupting hot flashes and early-morning awakenings.

60s and Beyond

The older you get, you sleep more lightly and, overall, experience less deep sleep. Aging is also linked to sleeping fewer hours, although studies show you still need as much sleep as when you were younger. The drive to stay awake during the day, however, is lessened, leading to increased napping. In addition, seniors’ sleep may be disturbed by bathroom visits, chronic pain, sleep apnea, and a myriad of other conditions.