Learning how to fall asleep sooner is possible, but you it may be necessary to make better lifestyle choices and overcome any sleep disorders you may have. Some people are able to hit the pillow and fall asleep fast. Others struggle for 30 minutes or more.
How Long Should it Take to Fall Asleep
The length of time it takes to fall asleep depends on various factors. The average, sleep-healthy person will fall asleep within seven minutes of closing their eyes and relaxing. Other people need much longer, even up to 30 minutes to fall asleep.
- If you have a sleep debt, or have not been getting enough sleep the past few nights, you may fall asleep sooner.
- Toddlers and babies may require as long as 30 minutes to put to sleep, depending on their excitement level and stressors.
- Medications may cause people to struggle to fall asleep. This includes allergy medications, antidepressants and heart medications.
How to Fall Asleep Sooner by Improving Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe your ability to get good quality sleep. Having good sleep hygiene will enable you to fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer. Several things can be done to improve your sleep hygiene and thus fall asleep faster.
- Sleep Pattern: Improving your sleep pattern will improve your ability to fall asleep faster each night. Try to go to sleep at the same time each day. This improves the body's circadian rhythm, which helps regulate sleep.
- Bedtime: Do not spend too much time in bed. The more time you spend watching television or reading in bed, the more difficult it will be to fall asleep. Program your body to relate being in bed to sleep. Not spending enough time in bed can also be detrimental to sleep quality.
- Improve Pre-Bedtime Routine: In the three hours prior to bed, avoid stimulants such as coffee, nicotine and alcohol. Avoid psychological stimulants such as watching television or reading. Do not eat sugary foods. Establish a sleep routine, using activities that relax you every night. This may include taking a bath or doing yoga. Relieving stress and unwinding is important.
- Create a Sleep Environment: The body naturally enters sleep when it is dark. A comfortable bed and the right temperature also will help you to fall asleep faster.
- Daytime Activities: A healthy lifestyle during the day is also conducive to getting to sleep faster. Get enough exercise during the day, especially in the morning or afternoon. Do not over nap during the day. Too many daytime naps will decrease your ability to fall asleep naturally during the day.
- Relax the Mind: When you do head to bed, make a point of not thinking about stresses you may have. Avoid thinking about problems you are facing during the day. These thoughts stimulate the mind, leading to the release of hormones to keep you awake.
Tackle Sleep Problems
One of the most common reasons people are unable to fall asleep quickly is because they are struggling with a sleep problem. Learning how to fall asleep quickly is not effective until these sleep problems are improved.
- Insomnia: Insomnia can be triggered by poor lifestyle choices, stress or a physical ailment. If you suspect you are dealing with insomnia, you may need expert help and medications.
- Restless Leg Syndrome: While not a direct sleep problem, restless leg syndrome can lead to trouble falling asleep. Those who suffer from it may require medications for restless leg syndrome that will improve symptoms making it easier to fall asleep.
- Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder causing overwhelming daytime sleepiness. Many with narcolepsy face difficulty falling asleep at night due to sleeping too much during the day. Doctors do offer medications and treatments to improve narcolepsy.
Those who suffer from any of these sleep difficulties, or others, can get help. Sleep studies, medications and other treatments can alleviate the systems keeping you up. In turn, this helps to regulate the sleep cycle, improving overall sleep hygiene.