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By this question: Is the human biological clock genetically programmed or learnt? we discussed that the sleep requirement depends on the age of the individual.

sleep requirements by age

- Figure 1. - Sleep requirements by age - ref

I thought I ask the question, why?

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I believe the current theory is that it is related to cell loss in the intermediate nucleus of the human hypothalamus. They have shown sleep disruptions due to lesions of the hypothalamic ventrolateral preoptic nucleus in rodents, and found that the intermediate nucleus in humans is homologous and shows a reduction in size in older adults that is correlated with sleep disruptions. http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/137/10/2847

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    $\begingroup$ Has any causation been shown on this correlation? $\endgroup$ – March Ho May 30 '15 at 5:44
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    $\begingroup$ I'm late to this answer, but this seems incredibly simplistic (especially given how unsettled the scientific understanding of sleep is) and not really related to the issue of sleep "need" but simply a single possible explanation for age related sleep disruption. You could have sleep disrupted and yet need sleep, or have sleep not disrupted and yet not need it per se - they are completely separate dimensions. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Jun 7 '18 at 17:07

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