How Long It Should Really Take You To Fall Asleep

Have you ever wondered, as you lay there staring into the darkness, if your sleep habits are normal? If so, you're not alone. Most people have some questions about how much they sleep, the quality of sleep they get, or even how long it takes them to fall asleep.

The time it takes you to fall asleep after snuggling under the covers is called sleep onset latency (SOL). Dr. W. Chris Winter, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, told PureWow, "Generally, a normal sleep latency is somewhere between five and 20 minutes. The notion that you need to fall asleep immediately is misguided."

If it takes you longer than about 20 minutes to fall asleep, experts recommend getting out of bed and doing something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Lying in bed worrying about being awake is actually counterproductive, and can lead to even more trouble falling asleep. Let your body and mind be your guide, though. "I think that regardless of time, as soon as frustration, annoyance, anger sets in, it's time to get out and watch the next episode of Bridgerton," Winter said.

Falling asleep too quickly is also a problem

On the other hand, falling asleep too quickly can also indicate a problem. According to the National Sleep Foundation, if you fall asleep within just a few minutes it could indicate sleep deprivation. You may just be recovering from one bad night which left you extra tired. But if you're routinely falling asleep in less than five minutes, consider adjusting your schedule to allow for more good sleep.

One important thing to know is what your sleep chronotype is. That simply means the time of day when your body clock is most likely to let you sleep. For example, teenagers are naturally night people, who feel most awake and productive during late night hours, according to University of Utah Health. If you try and work against your body's natural rhythms, it may take you longer to fall asleep.

That doesn't mean you should resort to sleeping pills if you're having a hard time falling asleep. While sleeping pills may relax you temporarily, they also interfere with important memory formation that takes place as you sleep. Rather, try tips like turning off screens about 30 minutes before bedtime, keeping your bedroom cool, and meditation. And most importantly, try not to stress about falling asleep, which defeats the purpose and will just lead to frustration.