Many people consider their 20s among the most rewarding years of their lives. You’re energetic and excited to tackle big goals, explore the world, and try new things. Some young adults have graduated college and are aggressively pursuing careers at this age. Others are getting married and starting families, which brings the pleasure and stress of supporting children, going on family vacations, and pursuing goals as a small family unit. Still other young adults find themselves battling serious complications from living a little too hard, such as drug abuse or alcoholism.
When you consider the transition from childhood to adulthood happens during these years, it’s no wonder that many people in their 20s are not getting enough sleep. This comes naturally for young adults who are working long hours to qualify for promotions, or starting their own businesses. When you add the stress of searching for romance in a challenging dating scene, having children, or time spent traveling, it’s not difficult to imagine that these exciting years come with a sleep deprivation cost for many.
Sleep Needs in Your 20s
Comparing patterns of sleep by age is interesting because there aren’t as many differences between the sleep habits of teenagers, young adults and older adults as one might believe. Teenagers often get much less sleep than they need because they have far too many distractions, overscheduled daily routines, and sometimes little supervision or accountability. Older adults are often busy balancing work, family, travel, and other responsibilities, so they aren’t getting the sleep they need either. What does change with age is the amount of sleep that the body needs, so you generally need less and less sleep as you age.
The exact amount of sleep needed is a personal issue that comes with some variance, but a glance at an official sleep chart for adults will show you that most young adults need around 8 hours of sleep while in their 20s. Research has shown that many people in this age group get closer to six hours of sleep each night, and it’s common for busy young adults with big goals to get by on even less.
The Impact of Sleep Insufficiency or Deprivation
Many young adults feel invincible in their 20s. They want to enjoy active social lives while immersing themselves in a variety of life experiences, and they rarely slow down to think about what the lack of sleep is doing to their health. In many cases, the consequences of sleep deprivation or insufficiency aren’t noticed until they hit the age of 40 or perhaps a bit older. In other cases, the consequences are simply ignored. Here are some you should look out for at this age:
- Weak immune system, leading to more frequent illnesses
- Heightened risk of obesity and diabetes later in life
- Decreased sex drive and/or problems conceiving
- Cognitive deficiencies, such as struggling to focus on important tasks
Not getting enough sleep also places young adults at heightened risk of falling asleep while driving or while operating heavy machinery at work. Those not getting enough sleep may also find themselves vulnerable to the use of alcohol and illegal drugs, and many consume far too much caffeine in an effort to stay alert even as their bodies are begging for rest.
Your 20s are exciting years, and taking advantage of these years can set you up for a more enjoyable and restful retirement. The struggle is trying to fit in those 8 hours of sleep so that you don’t also suffer from obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions once you reach those older years.
Some businesses are now allowing employees to nap at work, but you can also make simple lifestyle changes that allow you to get the sleep that you need for a healthy lifestyle. It all starts with committing to a consistent sleep schedule and investing in a mattress that supports your body and promotes maximum comfort.