How Does Men’s Sleep Change Through the Years?
With age comes wisdom. With age comes changes in sleep as well. Find out what happens with sleep over time, with a focus on men’s sleep. This article will discuss changes in sleep across the lifespan and note points specific to men. Looking for more information about women’s sleep? Check out our latest article.
Does men’s sleep differ strongly from women’s sleep?
In general, men and women have the same sleep needs and the same recommended amounts of sleep at each stage in life. Overall, women get more sleep than men but tend to experience more fragmented sleep and lower sleep quality. The main hormonal influence on sleep for men is testosterone, while women’s sleep can be affected by menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
Childhood and adolescence
Sleep experts recommend that children ages 6-12 should sleep 9-12 hours to promote optimal health. Lack of sleep can make children feel hyperactive and restless, as well as grumpy. Sleepiness can lead to being less attentive and struggling in school. It is not uncommon for children to experience nightmares and even night terrors, which can disrupt sleep, though most children grow out of this phase.
Teenagers (13-18 years old) need 8-10 hours of sleep, but many factors come into play during this stage of life that can make it difficult to get the recommended amount of sleep.
Thanks to the hormonal changes brought on by puberty, circadian rhythms shift, making teens want to stay up later into the night and sleep later into the day. This may not be as much of a problem on the weekends, but because of early school start times, getting the right amount of sleep necessary to be fully awake and active can be difficult. Not only that, the pressures of modern teen life including a busy class schedule and extra-curriculars, making time for physical activity and friends, and excessive screen time and exposure to blue light all can contribute to a lack of quality sleep.
Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep. By this time, ideally adults have developed a regular sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene that allows for restful and quality sleep each night. However, the stresses of adulthood can get in the way of achieving good sleep. Habits such as too much alcohol, nicotine, and large meals close to bedtime can affect sleep. Many medical conditions that affect sleep also begin to appear at this age. In addition to health behaviors, career obligations have shown to play a role in the quality and quantity of the sleep men get. The UCLA Sleep Disorders Center reports that many men are not getting enough sleep because of high work demands keeping them in the office at late hours. Deadlines, meetings, paperwork, phone calls, and emails affect when, if at all, they go to bed. A busy mind and constant worry about what needs to be done make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors need the same amount of sleep as other adults. But that doesn’t mean it comes easily. Nearly half of men and women over the age of 65 report having at least one sleep problem, and commonly experience more frequent awakenings during the night compared to when they were younger. This affects the ability to feel well-rested.
The kinds of medications that older adults often take also can interfere with how well they sleep. Even without the effects of medications, sleep changes later in life. Older people tend to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier relative to their earlier years, and many seniors spend more time in light sleep and less in the more restorative sleep stages.
Hormones also affect men as they age. Later in life, there is a natural reduction in testosterone, which can affect sleep quality. Some older men experience andropause, which is a significant drop in testosterone production.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing sleep issues and take some time for yourself to relax and get the rest you deserve!