How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?

Last updated: Oct 20, 2020

Sometimes, falling asleep for some people can feel like a challenge. For others, it could be as easy as a walk in the park. Whether you’re on one end of the spectrum or the other, it’s likely that you’ve wondered how long it normally takes you and other people to fall asleep.

It turns out that there are various factors that have a direct impact on the average time it takes you to fall asleep, as well as the quality of sleep you’re actually getting. Taking a long time to fall asleep could point to a larger problem related to your sleep hygiene, whereas falling asleep very quickly could mean that you’ve become sleep deprived.

When discussing the average time it takes to fall asleep, it’s important to bring multiple factors into discussion. These factors relate to your overall lifestyle, and can make or break the quality of sleep you get. For something so peaceful, the subject of sleep certainly does raise a lot of questions.

How Long Does It Take the Average Person to Fall Asleep?

How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?When you are trying to fall asleep, a few minutes can seem like forever. When you know you need sleep, you just hope to be asleep as quickly as possible. It’s been discovered that it takes around 10-20 minutes on average for a person to fall asleep. Even though this can feel like a while, the good news is that if it normally takes you this long to fall asleep, this is considered to be in the healthy zone of sleep quality and sleep latency.

The period of time between you hitting the bed and you falling asleep is called sleep latency, and believe it or not, there’s actually been an exceptional amount of research done on this topic. One very important aspect of the brain that came to light throughout research and studies carried out by William C. Dement was that your brain is always keeping account of how much sleep it is owed, and will essentially chain your body to a ‘sleep debt’.

If a given person is being deprived of sleep, they will go further into sleep debt, and as a result, they will begin to fall asleep more quickly. Sleep latency can be measured through Multiple Sleep Latency Tests, which give scores on a 1:1 ratio of minutes to points. The lower the number of points, the lesser amount of minutes it takes to fall asleep, the more sleep-deprived a person is. The scores go as follows:

  • 0-5: Severe
  • 5-10: Troublesome
  • 10-15: Manageable
  • 15-20: Excellent

How Long Does It Take You to Fall Asleep?

As mentioned, the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep can have a direct association with your lifestyle and sleep hygiene habits. Falling asleep within 10–20 minutes is normally a good sign of healthy sleep hygiene, whereas falling asleep too quickly, or taking too long to fall asleep, can point to problems in your lifestyle that can be fixed.

10 to 20 minutes

On the Multiple Sleep Latency Test, falling asleep within 10–20 minutes is described as a manageable – excellent amount of time, and likely shows that you are practicing proper sleep hygiene habits. Falling asleep within this time period normally means that you are getting sufficient sleep and are reaching deep state of sleep.

One hour or longer

If it is taking you longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep, perhaps upwards of an hour to fall asleep, this can point to the likelihood of insomnia, which is normally induced by bad sleep hygiene habits. Taking this long to fall asleep can also mean that you are sleeping too much, which is also unhealthy for the body and brain.

What Are Some Good Sleep Hygiene Habits?

How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?A lot of what you do throughout your day, and especially the hours towards the end of your day, can have a big impact on how quickly you fall asleep, and the quality of sleep you are receiving. Some good sleep hygiene habits that you should be practicing can consist of:

  • Having a dark enough room / sleep area
  • Having a cooler temperature in the room
  • Not eating in excess amounts within the last few (1–3) hours of the day
  • Avoiding alcohol in the last few (1–3) hours of the day
  • Avoiding caffeine for the last 8–10 hours of the day
  • Avoiding looking at bright phone / tablet / TV screens for the last hour of the day

These are some common good sleep hygiene habits that you can practice if you notice that it’s been taking you a long time to fall asleep. Lacking in any of these areas can possibly lead to a long sleep latency period and degrade your quality of sleep.

Common reasons of insomnia

If it is consistently taking you a very long time to fall asleep every night, it’s likely that you are experiencing insomnia. Insomnia can be brought out due to different factors than the ones listed above, and can point to other problems you may be dealing with. Some common reasons a given person can experience insomnia include:

  • Dealing with a lot of stress
  • Dealing with depression
  • Dealing with anxiety
  • Underlying health issues
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Inadequate sleeping environment

How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?

Tips on falling asleep faster

Luckily, there’s a good amount of advice to be told when it comes to falling asleep faster. Taking a long time to fall asleep is a common problem that many people experience, at least at one point in their life or another. If it’s taking you a long time to fall asleep, give these tips some consideration:

  • Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, AKA, try to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • Count backwards from 100, while breathing deeply in through the nose, and out through the mouth
  • Get enough time in the sun, so your body knows when it’s almost time to go to sleep when it gets dark out
  • Practice yoga and meditation to help relieve stress and anxiety
  • Avoid naps during the day, if possible
  • Eat healthy meals and snacks. Avoid high-calorie / sugar snacking right before bed

In conclusion

On average, it will take a person between 10–20 minutes to fall asleep. If you happen to be falling asleep within this time period, it’s likely that you have proper sleep latency and sleep hygiene habits. If you are falling asleep very quickly, or if it is taking you too long, this can point to other problems you may be having, whether it’s related to your lifestyle, sleepy hygiene habits, or other issues you are dealing with.

Taking a long time to fall asleep can be quite irritating. If this relates to you, be sure to give the tips listed above some consideration. Practicing at least one of them can potentially become the difference between good and bad sleep!

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