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Does Sleep Debt Decrease with Age?

Sleep Health; ePub 2018 Jun 28; Fox, et al

Older adults require less sleep to feel rested compared with younger adults, resulting in less sleep debt, a recent study found. The cross-sectional population study included 8,752 randomly selected adults aged >18 years from several counties around the Philadelphia, PA area who answered questions about sleep via a phone survey. Sleep debt was calculated by subtracting sleep achieved from sleep required. Logistic regression was performed to test associations between sleep debt and various sociodemographic factors in different population subgroups to identify those at risk for suboptimal sleep duration. Researchers found:

  • Sleep debt decreased with age.
  • Greater sleep debt was associated with female gender, Hispanic/Latino ethnicity, <40 years of age, self-reported poor health, and increased stress.
  • These factors may be used to identify those at higher risk of inadequate sleep and potentially manage their sleep debt.


Fox EC, Wang K, Aquino M, et al. Sleep debt at the community level: Impact of age, sex, race/ethnicity and health. [Published online ahead of print June 28, 2018]. Sleep Health. doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2018.05.007.