People tend to have their worst and shortest sleep between their early 30s and 50s, a new study revealed.
The study, led by researchers from the University College of London, the University of East Anglia and the University of Lyon, reveals that one’s sleep duration can effectively be used to divide life into three distinct phases.
The findings of this study were published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Nature Communications.
Sleep on it: Sleep duration variation based on age
Sleep is one of the most essential biological processes. The various far-reaching ramifications sleep can have on nearly every aspect of one’s life – from physical and mental health to biological and cognitive functions – cannot be understated.
Of course, sleep also can vary for a number of reasons. Environmental and genetic factors both play roles in determining how long and how well any given person can sleep. Variations also exist based on nationalities, ages and so on.
But that’s the problem. There are so many variations and divisions that there is a lack of large-scale general-population sleep studies.
Not only that, but sleep studies have also been criticized for usually focusing too much on high-income and developed countries, despite the fact that most of the world consists of low- or middle-income nations.
So that is where this study comes in, conducting a large sample size and globally diverse sleep study thanks to the power of video games—specifically, the mobile video game known as Sea Hero Quest, a project geared for assessing navigation abilities.
Navigation ability itself is something that is complex and requires several cognitive skills, which in turn has been linked to positive life outcomes.
However, it also examined other neurological surveys it asked of participants, including sleep habits.
The study examined a total of 730,187 participants from 63 countries around the world.
Overall, the study found that the average sleeping age seems to be 7.01 hours per night. Younger participants, with a minimum age of 19, slept the most, but sleep duration began to decline in the 20s and early 30s.
This decline continues until finally, in the early 50s, the sleep duration begins to plateau and then rises.
Overall, the ages of 33 and 53 have been identified as the average points on this scale.
So why is this happening?
Well, there may be a few possibilities. For one thing, people around this age may be busy with work and childcare.
Nonetheless, there is still plenty of variation between countries, and overall, countries closer to the equator see a bit less sleep than other places. However, eastern European countries tend to see an extra 20-40 minutes of sleep.