Classically the human life-course is characterized by youth, middle age and old age. A wide range of biological, health and cognitive functions vary across this life-course. Here, using reported sleep duration from 730,187 participants across 63 countries, we find three distinct phases in the adult human life-course: early adulthood (19-33yrs), mid-adulthood (34-53yrs), and late adulthood (54+yrs). They appear stable across culture, gender, education and other demographics. During the third phase, where self-reported sleep duration increases with age, cognitive performance, as measured by spatial navigation, was found to have an inverted u-shape relationship with reported sleep duration: optimal performance peaks at 7 hours reported sleep. World-wide self-reported sleep duration patterns are geographically clustered, and are associated with economy, culture, and latitude.