This Is How Age Affects Our Sleep

International Sleep Podcaster and Narrator of the famous ‘Sleep with Me’ Aussie themed podcast—Drew Ackerman joins RESCU to explain why we need more sleep, and how to achieve it.

It’s widely known that as babies, we need A LOT of sleep—up to 18 hours a day, in fact. With the onset of adulthood, we need less sleep, get less sleep, and function on a lot less.

In Australia alone, there are 7.4 million adults who experience some form of sleep ‘debt’. Typically adults and the elderly need at least eight hours a night, however, the older population has been shown they may not achieve their full quota in one rest.

While there are many reasons why this might be happening, an obvious reason is that our sleep patterns change naturally as we age. For instances, teenagers are known to stay up late, while seniors sometimes opt for a mid-afternoon nap with short sleeping patterns through the night. This is due to our circadian ‘pacemaker’, the 24-hour internal clock which influences when we fall asleep, wake up and even our level of alertness.

Another reason our needs change is that our sleep cycles also change when we get older. This is explained through two types of sleep: rapid-eye movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye movement (NREM), which has three stages known as N1, N2 and N3. From the day we’re born, our REM sleep last for about 50 minutes in children and 90 minutes in adults. Children also experience slow-wave (N3) sleep, which is the stage of sleep associated with restoring energy. Dreams do not tend to occur during slow-wave (N3) sleep. As adults, our slow-wave period of time usually shortens, which is why we can tend to wake up often, or stay awake during the night.

Tip for a better sleep

Introducing good sleep hygiene can be a big game changer when it comes to a good night’s rest. This means using practices and adapting habits that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.

This could be as simple as leaving your mobile phone or electronic device out of sight, either in a drawer or in another room, or aim to stop glancing at your phone at least two hours before going to bed.

Other techniques can include listening to a boring podcast, cuddling with your cat, a warm shower or bath, catching up on reading, journaling about your day. Whatever you decide to do, the activity must be relaxing and allow you to come down from the hustle and bustle of the day.

Certain herbal supplements may also offer some relief from insomnia or help you sleep soundly. Ingredients such as Valerian and Hops plant extracts in a fixed combination have been found to help relieve sleeplessness and, more importantly, restore healthy sleep patterns over two weeks.

If you are experiencing continued sleeplessness or have other health concerns discuss your sleep issues with your healthcare professional.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist talk to your health professional.


Drew Ackerman is a lifelong insomnia-sufferer and one of the world’s most prolific podcasters—who created the globally-renowned bedtime-storytelling podcast ‘Sleep with Me.’ Drew claims to be the most boring sleep time stories aimed at adults, with over 3 million downloads per week. In the podcast, Drew tells rambling, drawn-out bedtime stories with just enough interest to keep you listening but not enough to keep your brain stimulated. The intentionally boring content, combined with his drawling, soporific voice, sends listeners quickly to sleep.


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