Do you have trouble falling asleep? If so, you're not alone. Many people have problems getting to sleep for a lot of different reasons, such as stress, caffeine, watching the clock, or using your electronics.
Here we’ll talk about what’s considered the normal amount of time to fall asleep, what it could mean if it’s taking you shorter or longer than average to fall asleep, and most importantly, what you can do if you’re having trouble falling asleep.
Normal Times to Fall Asleep
It's normal to take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep without distractions, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If it takes longer (or less time) to fall asleep, it could indicate a problem.
When Should You Worry?
If you find it takes you over one hour to fall asleep, it could mean you’re getting too much sleep. It could, however, mean you are struggling with what is called “sleep onset insomnia.” This disorder happens when you can't stop your mind from thinking to allow yourself to relax.
On the other hand, if the lights are out for you the minute your head hits the pillow, this could mean you are struggling with sleep deprivation. Falling asleep immediately could also indicate you have sleep apnea, where you stop breating while sleeping, snore loudly and have daytime sleepiness.
When you’re deprived of sleep, it can lead to:
- Mood changes
- Difficulty concentrating
What Can You Do if You Have Trouble Falling Asleep?
The first thing to do is to try improving your sleep hygiene. Here are some tips.
- Keep electronic devices out of your bedroom. Refrain from working on laptops, using smartphones or watching television in your bedroom since they can emit a blue light, tricking your brain into thinking that it's still daytime.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and can keep you from being able to fall asleep. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially but it wakes you up during the night and makes your sleep fragmented.
- Take a bath. Try taking a bath before bed if you want to fall asleep faster. It can make you feel drowsy and relax your muscles. A warm bath also raises your body temperature, and when your temperature falls back to normal, it can trigger sleep.
- Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. This technique is also known as "The Relaxing Breath" and helps promote better sleep. It puts your body into a relaxing and calm state. When learning this exercise, it's best to sit with your back straight. Take your tongue and place the tip of it behind your upper front teeth against the ridge, keeping it there through the whole exercise. You'll be using your mouth to exhale around your tongue. Then follow these five steps:
- Make a 'whoosh' sound as you completely exhale through your mouth.
- Inhale through your nose quietly keeping your mouth closed and count mentally to four.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Using your mouth, exhale completely making that 'whoosh' sound again for 8 seconds.
- Repeat those 4 steps for 3 more times.
If these don't seem to help you fall asleep better, talk with your physician and see what she can recommend as the fastest way to fall asleep.
Now that you know it normally takes between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep, you can track your own sleeping patterns. If you notice you’re taking longer than 20 minutes to drift off, it could be that your body trying to tell you something. Make sure you listen.