How Long Does It Take To Fall Asleep? (PLUS 2 Minute Method!)

How Long Does It Take To Fall Asleep? (PLUS 2 Minute Method!)


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? 

silver retro alarm clock

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?

spirit bottles
Is alcohol preventing you from getting a good night's sleep?

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:

  1. Stimulants: coffee, alcohol, and food can not only affect our ability to fall asleep, but also the quality of sleep we get.
  2.  Temperature: if you're too hot, or indeed, too cold, you'll struggle both to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  3.  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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

baby and dad sleeping
It isn't the same for all of us. ©Pixabay

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?

sleeping at desk
Do you struggle to stay awake at work?

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:

  1. First, slowly and calmly breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
  2. Then, hold your breath for 7 seconds, taking care to remain relaxed.
  3. 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.

The effect?

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

woman on canoe
We're feeling peaceful already! ©Pxhere

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:

  1. Relax all the muscles in your face - this includes the muscles around the eyes, as well as your tongue and jaw.
  2. 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.
  3. Next, take a deep breath in, then out, and relax your chest and legs - start from the thighs and work your way down.
  4. 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!

Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author Mrs G J Gray on October 3, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on October 4, 2018 at 9:13 am

      That's really interesting - thanks for sharing!

  2. Author Patricia Reston on October 3, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on October 4, 2018 at 9:12 am

      Reading is always a good idea!

    2. Author Martin on February 21, 2024 at 8:31 pm

      Not necessarily. I'm an avid bookworm and the book grabs me, as some authors do I can find myself turning pages till 3am and beyond. Just one more chapter...etc. etc. !

    3. Author Joanne A on April 15, 2024 at 11:02 am

      That can be a problem!

  3. Author Jane on October 6, 2018 at 6:26 am

    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

    1. Author Joanne A on October 8, 2018 at 9:39 am

      You're welcome, Jane!

  4. Author Philip Watling on October 9, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    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 :)

    1. Author Joanne A on October 10, 2018 at 9:10 am

      That sounds great!

  5. Author Philip Watling on October 15, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    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 :(

  6. Author Lisa Guest on August 16, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on August 19, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      How lovely, Lisa! Have you heard of ASMR? I find it very relaxing and sometimes use it to get to sleep.

  7. Author Norman Howe on August 16, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on August 19, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Norman! That sounds like a great technique.

  8. Author Alison Steell on August 22, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on August 23, 2019 at 10:25 am

      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.

  9. Author Maria on February 12, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on February 12, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      That sounds brilliant!

    2. Author Megan chapman on February 16, 2020 at 9:22 pm

      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

    3. Author Joanne A on February 17, 2020 at 10:32 am

      That sounds great, Megan!

  10. Author Julie on February 16, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Didn’t work for me I’m afraid just kept thinking don’t think don’t think alniight

    1. Author Joanne A on February 17, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Sorry to hear that, Julie! Have you found anything that does work for you?

  11. Author Lesley Eskholme on February 16, 2020 at 10:24 am

    I count backwards fro 200. Not fool proof, but does usually work for me.

    1. Author Joanne A on February 17, 2020 at 10:32 am

      Thanks for sharing, Lesley!

  12. Author jayne Wilkinson on February 18, 2020 at 10:22 am

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on February 18, 2020 at 11:38 am

      Thanks for sharing, Jayne!

  13. Author WILLIAM HOLMES on February 18, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on February 19, 2020 at 11:22 am

      How lovely!

  14. Author Sue J on May 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

    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.

    1. Author Joanne A on October 18, 2022 at 9:39 am

      That must be frustrating!

  15. Author Jane on February 15, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    I don't have autistic spectrum disorder, yet find a weighted blanket or heavy throw balanced on me sends me off within minutes!

    1. Author Joanne A on February 21, 2022 at 12:48 pm

      We've heard they work wonders!

  16. Author Anne Liversidge on April 18, 2024 at 10:02 am

    The best thing I've found to date was actually having my cat on the pillow above my head, he lays there purring and it must somehow soothe my mind as I actually just drift off to sleep in minutes. I think it is because as he has gotten old (he's 16 now), his purr has become louder and deeper. I don't know why it works, but it does.

    1. Author Joanne A on April 29, 2024 at 10:21 am

      That's very sweet! I bet it's like white noise.


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