The amount of sleep a person needs is dependent upon many factors; these include how active the person is and the state of their health. One thing that cannot be said for sure is exactly how much sleep each person needs, everybody’s different, so there is no generic sleeping time that would suit everybody. Some people get by just a few hours a night, some people need considerably more – Margaret Thatcher famously got by on only three or four hours per night, although it is possible that people are just unaware of how tired they are. One thing that generally is quite consistent is how much sleep the person needs throughout their life at different ages; generally starting at quite a high number of hours per day gradually reducing as we reach adulthood, and will generally stay the same for a few decades after that, possibly decreasing as we get slightly older still.
New born babies seem to sleep almost all of the time: it is not uncommon for them to sleep for as many as 20 hours a day waking very occasionally when they need attention or food for example. The reason for this excessive sleeping is quite simple, in the first few months of a baby’s life they will grow rapidly and the sleep is important for the growth due to the hormones that are released at that time. After a few months, the sleep they need will decrease, but still remain quite high. Throughout childhood the amount of sleep that is needed steadily decreases and by the time the teenage years kick in, the number of hours of sleep that is needed is going to be approximate 9 to 11 hours per night, reducing to about eight hours per night at the end of their teens. This is approximately how many hours and adult needs per night, although, as already mentioned, that figure can change from person to person.
Between the ages of 18 and 60 plus, the amount of sleep that we need stays relatively constant, although things can affect how much sleep we need include our working life, both the type of work that we do and the shift patterns that we may work around, also any health problems that we may have. When we sleep it is a vital time for bodies to heal itself, just as with new born babies – and the growth hormones that are produced while they sleep – the body goes through processes to heal itself and repairer health, this is why doctors recommend plenty of rest when you are ill or injured. Elderly people are generally less active and therefore require less energy, when we sleep our bodies produce energy for when we awake, therefore, elderly people need less sleep because they don’t need so much energy. However, sometimes they require more sleep if they do have any health problems, and you will often find elderly people will change the sleeping habits slightly as well, often getting up earlier.