It’s bedtime, but sleep is far removed from you! Instead, you toss and turn with your mind going off on all tangents. How long have you been lying in bed? 30, maybe 45 minutes?
Exactly how long does it take to fall asleep, anyway? Is something off with your sleep health if you have a hard time drifting off to sleep? What if you conk out as soon as you hit the sack?
So many questions!
Fortunately, this article provides easy-to-understand answers and shares tips to help you establish a healthy sleep pattern.
How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?
Healthy sleep is restorative, helping the body to repair and heal naturally. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys quality sleep, and quite a lot of people have difficulty falling asleep.
The time it takes to fall asleep is known as sleep latency. Generally, healthy people have a sleep latency of about 10 to 20 minutes.
Of course, some nights are different, even for those with good sleep habits.
But if you consistently have trouble falling asleep within the normal time range, you might be dealing with insomnia or other sleep conditions.
Reasons for Not Falling Asleep on Time
Besides health problems, several other factors can prevent you from easily falling asleep at night.
First, if you go to bed before your body’s natural sleep time, it will be difficult to “turn off” your brain and sleep.
Here’s the thing.
Everyone has a natural internal clock known as circadian rhythm. This biological clock tells our bodies when to sleep and wake.
If you don’t follow the rhythm of your body, it will be difficult to drift off to sleep when you go to bed.
Also, getting too much sleep during the day (more than 30 minutes of naptime) can affect your ability to fall asleep within 10 to 20 minutes of going to bed at night. And if you’re a light sleeper, it becomes more difficult to stay asleep if you oversleep during the day.
Another common reason people can’t fall asleep on time is having a poor bedtime routine.
Although the human body is often compared to computers, you can’t flip a switch or press a button to instantly shut your brain down like a computer. Your body needs to wind down gradually at the end of each day.
You’ll have trouble falling asleep if you don’t maintain a fairly consistent nighttime routine.
Is It Okay to Fall Asleep Too Fast?
If you’ve had an exhausting day or didn’t get a good night’s sleep the previous night, it’s normal to fall asleep almost instantly when you go to bed.
That said, falling asleep too quickly is not necessarily good, especially if you don’t feel well-rested in the morning.
Research shows that falling asleep too quickly (a sleep latency of fewer than 8 minutes) could indicate sleep deprivation.
Here’s how to know if falling asleep too quickly is a sign of an underlying problem:
- You easily fall asleep at the wrong time of the day (usually when bored or idle)
- You rely on energy drinks or caffeinated beverages to get through the day
- You wake up frequently at night
- You struggle to remember things or stay focused
- You experience frequent moodiness or tiredness during the day
You’ll end up with sleep debt if your body is not getting enough sleep at night, and that can make you doze off as soon as your head hits the pillow.
Consider increasing your sleep hours to tackle sleep deprivation. Doing this will lower your risk of developing chronic stress, high blood pressure, depression, and other sleep-related health problems.
Tips for Establishing a Healthy Sleep Pattern
Counting sheep might work for kids, but it’s not the best remedy for getting better sleep, especially if you have insomnia.
Mastering your sleep cycle starts with learning how to sleep better. To help you with that, here are some good sleep habits that can improve sleep latency, allowing you to consistently fall asleep within the normal time.
Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule
Figure out your body’s biological clock and create a sleeping schedule around it.
Don’t know your body’s internal clock? No worries.
Simply go to bed at the same time every day, including weekends and work-free days. Regularly doing this helps set your body’s natural clock.
Do Something Relaxing if You Can’t Fall Sleep
Staying in bed worrying about not falling asleep doesn’t help. If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes of going to bed, get up and do a relaxing activity like reading a book, listening to a podcast, or meditation.
Whatever you do, make sure to choose topics that won’t overstimulate your mind. A better option would be to listen to some soothing natural sounds.
Here’s a good one.
Listen to “Just Rain” by Nature Sound Retreat on Amazon, Spotify, Apple, or YouTube. It’s two straight hours of uninterrupted peaceful rainstorm sounds to help you relax and easily drift off to sleep.
Make Your Bedroom Sleep-Friendly
It’s easier to fall asleep and stay asleep in a sleep-friendly environment. Turn off or dim the lights, make the temperature comfortable, sleep in a comfortable bed, and block out noise as much as possible.
Remove the TV and computer from your bedroom. And whatever you do, avoid bringing your phone into bed.
Eat Several Hours Before Bedtime
Make sure to have a minimum of three hours between your last meal of the day and when you go to bed. This way, your body has ample time to digest your food.
While you shouldn’t skip dinner just to follow this rule, eating too close to your bedtime can cause indigestion or acid reflux, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Avoid Frequent Late Afternoon Naps
Napping occasionally can be great for your heart health, but long naps after 3 pm can make it difficult to fall asleep at night and get a good nights sleep.
Be Mindful of What You Eat or Drink Before Bedtime
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can keep you up at night, especially when consumed late in the afternoon. For this reason, you want to avoid them for a minimum of 6 hours before bedtime.
Also, you want to steer clear of alcohol before going to bed, especially if you have sleep issues.
Drinking alcoholic beverages in the evening may make you sleepy, but it can interrupt your sleep cycle once the effects wear off. Instead of alcohol, get some sleep gummies if you need a sleep aid to help you fall asleep.
Remember that drinking alcohol before bed will likely increase your bathroom visits, which may lead to sleep deprivation and sleepiness.
Your sleep latency – how quickly you fall asleep – says a lot about your sleep health. You are more likely to stay asleep long enough to feel well-rested if you drift off to sleep within the normal time range.
And exactly how long does it take to fall asleep? Experts say within 10 to 20 minutes of hitting the sack.
If you are sleep deprived or have an underlying sleep condition, you may have to give up certain habits to get restful sleep.
Remember, it’s never about all the things you’re missing out on by sleeping on time and long enough. Instead, it is what poor sleeping habits cost you in the long term.