Sleep well… if you’re over 60! Study reveals we get more shut-eye after our fifties 

Sleep well… if you’re over 60! Study reveals we get more shut-eye after our fifties

  • It was found that people at mid-adulthood struggle getting seven hours sleep 
  • People in their early 30s and early 50s sleep the least out of the studied groups
  • By mid-60s, adults generally sleep for more than seven hours each night

For anyone who might be worried about approaching 60, scientists have some good news. 

While people sleep the least from their early 30s to their early 50s, they can look forward to getting more shut-eye as their 60th birthday looms. 

Experts, who questioned 730,187 participants across 63 countries, found that in mid-adulthood people struggle to get seven hours of sleep per night. But after their 53rd birthday, things start to improve. By their mid-60s they sleep for more than seven hours a night on average. 

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, was led by researchers at University College London, the University of East Anglia and the University of Lyon in France

 When reaching mid-adulthood people struggle to get seven hours of sleep per night

Participants all played a mobile phone game designed to aid Alzheimer’s research. But in addition to cognitive tests, anyone playing the game was asked questions that could be useful to neuroscience research, such as on sleep patterns. 

The team found that people slept just over seven hours per night on average, with women sleeping 7.5 minutes longer than men. 

The youngest participants – 19-years-old – slept the most, for nearly 7.4 hours a night on average. According to the data, sleeping hours then declined throughout people’s 20s and early 30s, to 6.9 hours by 33, before plateauing. 

Analysis revealed the age of 53 was when sleep began to increase again, and this occurred for both men and women across different countries. 

Average hours of sleep per night returned above seven hours by people’s mid-60s. The team also found a ‘clear association’ with getting at least seven hours of sleep per night and memory performance in those aged 53 and over. 

Professor Hugo Spiers, from UCL, said: ‘Previous studies have found associations between age and sleep duration, but ours is the first large study to identify these three distinct phases across the life course. 

‘We found that across the globe, people sleep less during mid-adulthood, but average sleep duration varies between regions and between countries.’ 

People who sleep the most are in Eastern European countries such as Albania, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic, reporting 20-40 minutes extra sleep per night. Meanwhile those living in South-East Asian countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia reported sleeping the least. 

People in the United Kingdom reported sleeping slightly less than the average, the study found. According to the NHS website, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night on average, while children need nine to 13 hours. 


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