Over the human lifespan, our relationship with sleep changes dramatically. For newborn infants, you’ll notice that they get as much sleep during the day as they get during the night–that’s nearly sixteen hours of sleeping. Their sleep can be described as “polyphasic,” having several phases. It stays slightly polyphasic until you turn four–now you’re older and you only need one nap during the day! That makes you more biphasic.
When you were four, you probably hated being forced to take a nap, but let’s not kid ourselves–we definitely needed it…and now…we miss it because we’ve become monophasic human adults with too much on our plates each day and not enough time to sleep.
You’ll notice that for your grandparents or any elderly adult you’ve lived with, they always seem to be awake super early or up throughout the night. From my own experience, I would always feel frustrated because my grandmother didn’t seem to be getting enough sleep and that wasn’t good for her health. But the thing is, when you are at that age, you physically can’t generate the sleep that you need. REM sleep, the stage in which neural connections are developed, starts to decrease. There is a significant absence of deep slow wave sleep as well (Stages 3 and 4 of NREM), which explains the periodic awakenings at night. Our brains are deteriorating the older we get.☹ Treat yourselves well now and get the rest you need before you can’t!