- Why is sleep important?
- What stops us from sleeping?
- How much sleep do we need?
- What happens when we don't get enough sleep?
- How to fall asleep in 2 minutes
Are you spending night after night tossing and turning in bed, begging your body and brain to calm down? Maybe you're wondering how long it should take for you to fall asleep?
Sleep problems affect a surprisingly large proportion of the population - it's no wonder we're so tired all of the time! Sleep is a human need, and learning how to fall asleep quickly can be a true lifesaver when it comes to making the most out of your days.
Today we're sharing the truth about how long it should take you to fall asleep, plus some top tips to help you drift off even faster!
How long does it take to fall asleep?
The amount of time it takes for a person to fall asleep is known as sleep latency. This will vary from person to person but, according to Sleep Advisor, the normal amount of time it takes to fall asleep is thought to be between 10 and 20 minutes, with the average being 7 minutes.
Sleep latency is a good indicator of sleep quality. You might think that being able to fall asleep fast is a good thing, but it can indicate that you're overly tired. Likewise, if you're taking more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, it could indicate an underlying problem.
Why is sleep important?
Sleeping gives the body an opportunity to recharge. It's not only important for the healing and repair of our heart and blood vessels, but it also gives our muscles a chance to rest, and the brain a chance to prepare for the next day. For children, sleep is particularly important for healthy growth and development.
Often how we function throughout the day, both mentally and physically, correlates directly to the length and quality of sleep we get. Essentially, you can't put a price on a good night's sleep.
What stops us from sleeping?
On paper, sleep seems like such an easy concept - we've all been known to drift off as a passenger on a long car journey.
So, why then, when we actually want to sleep, is it such a struggle?
Well, there are certain factors that overstimulate us and prevent us from being able to relax enough to nod off, including bad bedtime habits. These include:
- Stimulants: coffee, alcohol, and food can not only affect our ability to fall asleep, but also the quality of sleep we get.
- Temperature: if you're too hot, or indeed, too cold, you'll struggle both to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Stress and overthinking: when we're trying to sleep, we're not concentrating on anything in particular. This often means worries or anxieties we have find their way into our consciousness, and before we know it our brains are working overtime, getting us in a tizzy and preventing us from falling asleep.
- Noisy or uncomfortable environments: there's a reason people are fussy when it comes to the location of their new home - a noisy environment can make switching off at night almost impossible. Sharp and sudden noises will disrupt the sleep cycle and leave us feeling frazzled and unrested.
- Irregular routines: even as children, we're told to go to bed at the same time every night, and there's a good reason for this. Our bodies have a built-in clock of sorts, which adjusts to regular patterns. When these patterns are disrupted, the body finds it hard to adapt and give us the sleep we need.
How much sleep do we need?
Unfortunately, how much sleep we actually need isn't always an easy question to answer. Just as everyone's body responds better to different diets, the ideal amount of sleep for person-to-person varies too.
Whilst the National Institute of Health state healthy adults should ideally be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep for best performance, many of us sleep less than 7 hours a night.
It's important to remember that whilst you may be able to function on as a little as 6 or 7 hours a night, you'd probably feel a lot better on more.
As sleep directly correlates to growth, children need more sleep than adults. Newborns need up to a magnificent 17 hours a day, whilst older adults shouldn't need more than 8.
What happens when you don't get enough sleep?
Worried you're not getting enough sleep? The signs of sleep deprivation don't always have to be extreme. In fact, a lot of the symptoms are things you may be experiencing every day without realising. These include:
- Feeling the need to lie in on weekends
- Becoming drowsy when watching TV, reading or driving
- Needing an alarm to wake up
- Repeatedly using the snooze button
- Getting sleepy in warm rooms, meetings, lectures or lessons
- Relying on naps to get through the day
- Feeling sluggish in the afternoon
- Falling asleep quickly when going to bed
- Getting drowsy after a big meal
To summarise, not enough sleep means a craggy, drowsy, under-performing you. The positive? It's easy to remedy. Getting to bed earlier and learning how to fall asleep in 2 minutes with our clever trick will get you caught up on sleep in no time.
How to fall asleep in 2 minutes
Do you spend what seems like hours tossing and turning at night in a desperate attempt to eventually nod off? Don't waste time! Learn how the pros get to sleep in a flash with these two reliable methods...
The 4-7-8 breathing technique
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is as easy is it sounds and involves just three steps:
- First, slowly and calmly breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Then, hold your breath for 7 seconds, taking care to remain relaxed.
- Finally, breathe out through your mouth for a further 8 seconds - try to keep your breath even when doing so.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is not only useful when trying to fall asleep, but also during periods of stress or anxiety. This is because it works to both slow down and lengthen your breath, increasing the amount of oxygen in your body, whilst reducing the amount of CO2.
Your heart, mind and central nervous system will become more relaxed. Hectic thoughts will dissipate, and you may even feel slightly sedated. Many people claim the 4-7-8 breathing technique has become their go-to, sleep solution, and the only thing they remember in the morning is beginning to count.
The military secret to falling asleep
This military trick claims to get you falling asleep in just 2 minutes - imagine how many extra minutes you could squeeze in without all that restlessness in bed at night!
This technique has been used for an astonishing two decades, and is said to work for 96% of people after six weeks of practice - sounds pretty good, huh?
Similarly to the 4-7-8 breathing method, it's surprisingly easy to do, with just 4 steps to complete:
- Relax all the muscles in your face - this includes the muscles around the eyes, as well as your tongue and jaw.
- Now it's time to relax your upper body. Let your shoulders drop down as far as possible, then do the same with your upper and lower arms.
- Next, take a deep breath in, then out, and relax your chest and legs - start from the thighs and work your way down.
- Now your body is relaxed, it's time to focus on your mind. Try and clear your mind while envisaging or doing one of the following for 10 seconds:
- Imagine you're lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but clear, blue sky above you.
- Imagine you're in a pitch-black room, lying on a black velvet hammock.
- Repeat the words 'don't think, don't think, don't think' in your head over and over.
And apparently, that's all it takes to be knocked out in approximately 120 seconds.
How do you get to sleep quickly? Share your tips with us in the comments below!
I have no problems to fall asleep and i wake up feeling fine.every night i put on a CD story read by Sir Christopher lee and drop off to sleep within 2 seconds, my CD machine switches its self off when the CD has finished playing.
That's really interesting - thanks for sharing!
I read at night in bed when that does not work, I make a nice cup of drinking chocolate and I fall asleep very quickly after.
Reading is always a good idea!
Thank you for that, will try the first one but the second one is the same as in a relaxation group I went to but just couldn’t envisage any part of me relaxing,I had to leave in the end
You're welcome, Jane!
My method is similar to the pitch black room. I just imagine something incredibly dark and it is getting darker and darker and... When all the light has gone and all that is left is darkness I am asleep :)
That sounds great!
My method is similar to the pitch black room. I just imagine something incredibly dark and it is getting darker and darker and... When all the light has gone and all that is left is darkness I am asleep :) Sadly no matter the method my snoring trumps the lot and my wife just lies there frustrated :(
Hi Phillip! We actually have an article with tips on how to stop snoring! You could give it a try: https://experthometips.com/how-to-stop-snoring-natural-remedies-cure
I have used a mindfulness technique, which is guided meditation videos on YouTube for relaxation and to help you to fall asleep, there's also a bodyscan one, that relaxes your body bit by bit, so you feel relaxed after. Also, if your religious, you could try praying, sometimes I fall asleep while praying and continue it when I wake up on the morning.
How lovely, Lisa! Have you heard of ASMR? I find it very relaxing and sometimes use it to get to sleep.
My technique is to lay in a comfortable position. I close my eyes and try clear my mind. I then concentrate on relaxing my body. I start on my feet then gradually work my way up to my head. I try and shut everything out and just relaxing. I don’t get to my head because I’m normally a sleep before then. If I start to dream I go with it and don’t concentrate on the dream just let it wash over me.
Thanks for sharing, Norman! That sounds like a great technique.
I have a real problem as my mind never stops thinking. I also don't like the dark so the last thing I want is a pitch black room. I dread going to bed at night.
Hi Alison! Have you tried listening to music/sleep sounds before bed? I find it really helps me to clear my mind as I focus on that instead.
I take 10 deep breaths, and let them out slowly. Then find something in your room to stare at, ( could be a picture, cuddly toy or even the door handle) anything that is not going to move. Then stare at it and count backwards from 50. ( I never reach 50 ) the only thing is that you are not allowed to blink. I suffer with constant back pain and it works for me. My granddaughter used it while she was doing her exams and it worked for her as well.
That sounds brilliant!
I've done this for years after suffering broken back it works really well .sometimes for a change I imagine my self furnishing a room exactly how I d like it right down to curtain rails the imagine I'm sitting in a chair in this room looking at my creation It works
That sounds great, Megan!
Didn’t work for me I’m afraid just kept thinking don’t think don’t think alniight
Sorry to hear that, Julie! Have you found anything that does work for you?
I count backwards fro 200. Not fool proof, but does usually work for me.
Thanks for sharing, Lesley!
I've used the 478 method lots of times.. I don't know if it's mind over matter or the fact that I'm concentrating on the counting means other things are kept from my mind but it works for me.
Thanks for sharing, Jayne!
I sleep really well when my wife is there, but sometimes she is away for a few nights - that's when I can't sleep - terrible to be dependant on someone else! So what I do is put on the bedroom TV, find a really boring programme (easy at 1am!) and I fall asleep very quickly.
I've tried tons of methods/tricks over the years but nothing seems to work for me. The worst one is reading because I just can't seem to put a good book down, so I end up reading the whole thing! I'm a terrible insomniac at the best of times, so sleeping at night just doesn't happen. I actually feel extremely lucky if I get about 8hours' sleep in a week, never mind one night. Even then, if I manage to get 3hours in one go I'm ecstatic but I can regularly go 3 out 4 days straight without so much as a 10minute nap.
That must be frustrating!
I don't have autistic spectrum disorder, yet find a weighted blanket or heavy throw balanced on me sends me off within minutes!
We've heard they work wonders!
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