Throughout our lives there are major changes in the amount and kind of sleep we experience.
Infancy –Babies sleep much more than all other ages, around 16 hours and day. But this sleep is not continuous, it often only last an hour at a time. This is because their cycles are shorter than adults. Also babies have a higher percentage of ‘active’ sleep than adults.
By the age of 6-months most babies establish one continuous cycle, and by 1 year old the baby will normally sleep at night time alone, so their sleep becomes more like that of a child or adult.
Childhood – By the age of 5 children’s EEG patterns look similar to that of an adult; however they still have a higher percentage of REM sleep and will sleep for longer (12 hours). During this stage a lot of children will experience Parasomnias such as sleep walking or night terrors.
Adolescence – Teenagers circadian rhythms change meaning that they feel naturally more awake later at night, and then struggle to get up early. Teenagers also need to sleep for longer than adults, requiring between 9-10 hours a night.
Adulthood and old age – The average adult will sleep for around 8 hours a night, with 25% of that being REM sleep. Adults are less likely to suffer parasomnias such as sleep walking and night terrors than children; however they are more at risk from other disorders such as insomnia and apnoea.