Body

How much deep sleep you actually need, depending on your age

International Sleep Podcaster Drew Ackerman explains why we need more sleep, and how to achieve it.

By Drew Ackerman
It's not your imagination – you really do need more shut eye as you get older.
We all know that babies need a lot of sleep – depending on the age up to 18 hours a day, in fact.
Yet, as we move into adulthood we not only need less sleep, but we get and function on a lot less.
Adults need at least eight hours a night, as do the elderly, although research has found that the older population often may not achieve their full quota in one solid block of sleep.
A staggering 39.8 per cent of Australian adults – that's around 7.4 million people - experience some form of sleep "debt", which means there's a lot of people trying to get through the day with less-than-adequate shut eye.
But why is that? Turns out, there are a few likely reasons why we may be getting less.
As we move into adulthood we not only need less sleep, but we get, and function on, a lot less. (Image: Getty Images)
Firstly, it's natural for our sleep patterns to change with age. We all know teenagers who can stay up till the early hours but find it difficult to get moving before lunchtime, so they may not be getting the increased sleep they need.
Older adults may require a nap mid-afternoon and then sleep lightly in short bursts throughout the night.
This is due to our circadian "pacemaker", the 24-hour internal clock which influences when we fall asleep, wake up and even our level of alertness.
WATCH: Five natural ways to fall asleep faster. Post continues after video...
Secondly, our sleep cycles typically change as we get older. There are two main types of sleep: rapid-eye movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye movement (NREM), which has three stages known as N1, N2 and N3.
From birth our REM sleep last for about 50 minutes in children and 90 minutes in adults. Children also experience slow-wave (N3) sleep, which is the stage of sleep associated with restoring energy. Dreams do not tend to occur during slow-wave (N3) sleep.
As adults, our slow-wave period of time usually shortens, which is why we can tend to wake up often, or stay awake during the night.
From birth our REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep last for about 50 minutes in children and 90 minutes in adults. (Image: Instagram @kimkardashian)

How to get a good night's sleep

There are several steps you can take to introduce good sleep hygiene into your life.
Ideally, leave your mobile phone or electronic device in another room and try to avoid glancing at your phone for at least two hours before bedtime.
A good bedtime routine is important: Whether it's a warm bath, listening to relaxing music, a boring podcast, or reading an enjoyable book, this time is for you to wind down from your day.
Certain herbal supplements may also offer some relief from insomnia or help you sleep soundly. Ingredients such as valerian and hops plant extracts in a fixed combination have been found to help relieve sleeplessness, and more importantly, restore healthy sleep patterns over two weeks.
Try to avoid glancing at your phone for at least two hours before bedtime. (Image: Getty Images)
Flordis ReDormin Forte contains Ze 91019, an exclusive clinically researched combination of valerian and hops extracts, which has been shown to help relieve night-time stress and reduce the time taken to fall asleep by 79 per cent, while supporting a deeper, more restful sleep.
And the good news is that feelings of grogginess are reduced with a clear refreshed mind, ready to face the day.
Of course, if you are experiencing continued sleeplessness or have other health concerns, discuss your sleep issues with your healthcare professional.
If you are experiencing continued sleeplessness or have other health concerns discuss your sleep issues with your healthcare professional. (Image: Getty Images)
Drew Ackerman is a lifelong insomnia-sufferer and one of the world's most prolific podcasters.
He created the globally-renowned bedtime-storytelling podcast Sleep with Me, where Drew tells rambling, drawn-out bedtime stories with just enough interest to keep you listening but not enough to keep your brain stimulated, quickly sending listeners to sleep.
The podcast is downloaded more than three million times a week and you can find out more at sleepwithmepodcast.com