The Ever-Changing Landscape of Sleep: How Your Needs Evolve Throughout Life

Understanding your shifting sleep needs and patterns can help you maintain optimal health and well-being
Written by
Brian Leddy
Alarm clock on a bedside table with woman sleeping 2023 11 27 05 17 38 utc

Sleep, like life itself, is a journey marked by change and transformation. Wow, deep, right?

Truthfully, though, our sleep needs and patterns shift as we age, reflecting the unique demands and challenges of each life stage. This has to do with a lot of different things like our growing bodies in our younger years or our changing hormone levels when we're in our prime.

Understanding these changes and adapting our sleep habits accordingly is essential for maintaining optimal health and well-being throughout our lifespan.

Quick Background

According to our marketing department, our BodyStack membership group's age range includes no toddlers and infants or adolescents (and honestly we're not focused on them because we are pretty sure we know what "rizz" means now (charisma) but we're not totally sure how to incorporate "skippity" into our lingo and we also don't know if when something is "Ohio" that means it is good or it is bad).

But for the purposes of this article, we want you to have the context of where we started with our sleep habits and needs and how this evolves through life. Let's begin at the beginning!

Infancy and Childhood: The Foundation of Sleep Health

In the earliest years of life, sleep is crucial for brain development, physical growth, and immune function. Newborns require up to 17 hours of sleep per day, while toddlers and preschoolers need 10-13 hours. As children grow, their sleep needs gradually decrease, but quality sleep remains essential for learning, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation.

Adolescence: The Challenging Terrain of Teen Sleep

Puberty triggers a shift in sleep patterns, with teenagers experiencing a natural delay in their sleep-wake cycle. This biological change, coupled with academic pressures and social demands, often leads to chronic sleep deprivation in teens. If you have teenagers in your house, you're likely familiar with the consequences of this including:

Impact on academic performance

Changes in mood volatility (nicest way we can phrase that)

Overall health

Encouraging consistent sleep schedules, limiting screen time before bed, and creating a sleep-conducive environment are crucial for teenagers to thrive. Best of luck getting your kids to listen to you about that one, though.

Adulthood: Navigating the Complexities of Adult Sleep

Most adults require 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. However, work schedules, family responsibilities, and lifestyle factors often disrupt sleep patterns.

 Chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of various health problems:



Heart disease

Mental health disorders

 Prioritizing sleep, establishing a regular sleep schedule, and practicing relaxation techniques can help adults maintain healthy sleep habits.

Older Adulthood: Embracing the Changes in Senior Sleep

As we age, sleep patterns change again. Older adults may experience more fragmented sleep, earlier bedtimes, and earlier wake-up times. However, the need for 7-8 hours of sleep remains consistent. 

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, staying physically active, and managing any underlying health conditions can help older adults optimize their sleep and overall well-being.

A Lifelong Commitment to Sleep

Understanding how sleep needs evolve throughout the lifespan empowers us to prioritize rest and adapt our habits to ensure we get the sleep we need to thrive. 

By embracing the ever-changing landscape of sleep, we can unlock its full potential for health, happiness, and longevity, while working on a plan to improve our sleep hygiene based on our individual needs.

Brian Leddy Profile Image
Brian Leddy CEO & Co-Founder, BodyStack (FDN-P)
Certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner (FDN-P) and owner of Leddy Functional Wellness. Formerly an Adweek Executive and Media Entreprenuer, Brian pivoted his career to focus on inspiring and coaching people from all walks of life to make positive strides in their respective health journeys. Brian is a Co-Founder, and now serves as the CEO of BodyStack.
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