For adults up to age 65, the CDC recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night. For those aged 65 and up, the recommendation shifts to seven to eight hours.
As people from different age groups have different sleep patterns—depending on not only their daily schedules but also biological differences—it’s expected to see differences between generations. Still, investigating these differences and why they occur will help us to better understand the sleep needs of people of all ages.
On average, Gen Z respondents (“zoomers”) sleep the most, with an average of seven hours and 24 minutes. Zoomers sleep 42 minutes longer than millennials, 48 minutes longer than Gen X, 42 minutes longer than baby boomers, and 6 minutes more than traditionalists.
The group who reported the least amount of sleep was Gen Xers, sleeping six hours and 36 minutes a night. Knowing that certain factors such as exposure to electronics before bed, stress, and diet impact sleep, studying the bedtime routines common among different generations may provide some insight as to why these differences exist.
For Gen X, the amount of total time slept may be due to taking far longer to fall asleep, with Gen Xers reporting that it takes them nearly three times longer to fall asleep than millennials or zoomers. Gen Xers were most likely to select that it took them between 21 to 30 minutes to fall asleep, compared to only five to 10 minutes for millennials and those in Gen Z.
Productivity and Stress
Despite the differences in sleep duration, one commonality was found among Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X—about 30 percent of all three groups report that lack of sleep impacts their productivity every day. In contrast, only 9.4 percent of baby boomers (and zero percent of traditionalists) reported their productivity being affected every day by the lack of sleep.
Returning to stress as a factor with the potential to impact sleep quality, it is worth noting that zoomers, millennials, and Gen Xers were twice as likely to feel extremely stressed over the past month than baby boomers and traditionalists. As a larger portion of baby boomers and traditionalists (often retirees) are unemployed but not seeking employment compared to the other generations, this is one potential reason for the lower stress levels reported amongst this group. However, this would need to be studied further to determine for certain what the causes of stress are for each specific generation.