A life­time sleep pat­tern looks like a U‑shaped curve, with 40 years as the low­est point, accord­ing to researchers at the Med­ical Col­lege of Geor­gia.

Our sleep effi­cien­cy, which basi­cal­ly means how much time we actu­al­ly sleep, tends to decrease through­out our lives, but the researchers were sur­prised to find that the effi­cien­cy sta­bi­lized between the ages of 30 and 60.

For this study, researchers ana­lyzed a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of 200 mil­lion Amer­i­cans: 11,279 par­tic­i­pants aged 6 and over from the Nation­al Health and Nutri­tion Study. This is the first work that did not use sleep self-reports, but 24-hour mon­i­tor­ing data.

Peo­ple think that chil­dren and teenagers sleep longer, and this has been proven true. And in mid­dle age, peo­ple sleep less, and the results also objec­tive­ly con­firm this. In addi­tion, sleep dura­tion is increased for indi­vid­u­als aged 60 years and old­er.

In this more objec­tive assess­ment of sleep para­me­ters based on move­ment, the researchers again found that, in gen­er­al, night­time sleep decreas­es as we age, although they noticed that the U‑shape appears when sleep dura­tion is sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced from about 10 to 50 years old and gets a lit­tle longer after 50 years. Although the work reflect­ed a pat­tern among res­i­dents of the Unit­ed States, stud­ies of large num­bers of res­i­dents in Japan and France showed sim­i­lar data.

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