40-Year-Olds Are Getting The Least Amount Of Sleep, Study Says + 5 Tips To Help
You've probably realized you don't get as much sleep as you did when you were younger, but how does sleep duration actually change throughout our lives? In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports1, researchers have found the answer, including which age group is getting the least amount of sleep. Here's what they found, plus our top tips for getting quality sleep—no matter how old you are.
How sleep changes with age.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey2, which included over 11,000 participants, ages 6 and up. For seven days, the participants wore accelerometers, which track movement and, subsequently, sleep.
Based on their findings, it appears that people's sleeping patterns, namely sleep duration (or how long they sleep), form a U-shape, with sleep decreasing as we approach middle age and increasing following middle age.
Specifically, they found, 40 appears to be the age that Americans are getting the least sleep on average. And at around age 50, sleep duration starts to increase again.
How to get quality sleep no matter your age.
Whichever part of the U-shape you fall into, we can guess you just want to feel your best—and good-quality sleep can help you do that. Here are our top tips for making sure you're snoozing efficiently:
Have a consistent schedule.
One of the best things you can do for overall sleep hygiene is to have a consistent bedtime—and wake time. Even on the weekends, try to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm so you can readily fall asleep every night and wake up easily.
Try a sleep-supporting supplement.
In addition to having a regular sleep schedule, supplements like mindbodygreen's sleep support+ can offer us a leg up on our sleep hygiene.* The formula includes magnesium bisglycinate, as well as calming jujube and PharmaGABA®, for a supplement that can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (in other words, it'll make your sleep dreams come true).*
Get enough movement.
As board-certified sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., previously explained to mbg, "If you don't do anything to recover from, your body doesn't need to recover all that much." In other words, if your body isn't tired at the end of the day, falling asleep will be that much more difficult. Just remember, intense exercise close to bedtime can actually be too stimulating, so leave the harder workouts for the daytime and more calming activities for the evening. Research shows this is the best time to exercise before bed, if you're curious.
Avoid certain foods & beverages before bed.
From an afternoon cup of coffee to a glass of wine in the evening, and even certain bedtime snacks, there are a lot of things that can negatively affect your sleep. Ditch the caffeine earlier rather than later (some studies suggest doing this at least six hours before bed3), and if you're having alcohol, Breus advises limiting yourself to two drinks, having a glass of water with each, and stopping drinking at least three hours before bedtime.
Nail your wind-down routine.
Last but not least, never underestimate the importance of a relaxing wind-down routine that sets you up for great sleep. This will look different for everyone, but think dim lights, soothing scents, calming teas, and a cool bedroom. And don't forget your sleep supplement. As far as what to avoid, think anything stimulating, such as phones, TVs, bright lights, etc.
Our individual sleep needs change as we age—with sleep quality being the lowest around middle age—but the need for sleep itself does not. No matter how old or young you are, prioritizing sleep is a pillar of overall well-being and essential to feeling your best every day. These five tips can be helpful for encouraging deep and restorative rest.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.