Have you noticed that every time you wake up from a sweet and nice dream, it is almost impossible for you to recall the moment when you fall asleep? Today we are more aware of the importance of sleep to our health. The quality of sleep is connected to several factors, including the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep. How long does it take to fall asleep? If you don’t know the answer for yourself, then it will be hard for you to realize whether you sleep in a healthy way or not.
Stages of Sleep
To analyze how long does it take to fall asleep, let me first explain the different stages you will encounter during the process of sleep. Normally, there are two main parts of sleep: non-REM (Non-rapid eye movement) sleep and REM (Rapid eye movement) sleep.
Non-REM sleep can be divided into three stages. The first is the transition period when you change from wakefulness to sleep. At this stage, your brain begins to relax and slow down by producing slow waves. Then you will enter the second stage of light sleep when your body temperature drops, and your heart rate begins to slow. This is the stage when you become less aware of your surroundings and ready for deep sleep. The third stage of Non-REM sleep usually occurs in the first few hours of your sleep. This is the deep sleep when it is difficult to rouse you up, and your body begins to repair itself so that you will feel refreshed the next morning.
REM sleep first happens 90 minutes after you fall asleep. During REM sleep, your brain will become more active and your eyes will move faster while your body turns to be more relaxed and immobilized. It is also the time when you dream.
The process of sleep first comes from non-REM sleep, followed by a shorter period of REM sleep, and then the cycle starts over again from the second part of non-REM sleep.
How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?
We begin to fall asleep between the first and second stages of Non-REM sleep. While how long it takes to fall asleep is a slippery concept, the common answer to “how long does it take to fall asleep” should be about 10 to 20 minutes. Studies suggest the first stage lasts around 5 to 10 minutes and the second stage lasts for approximately 20 minutes.
The measurement of time listed above is a result found by William C. Dement a researcher at Stanford who indicated the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, so-called sleep latency, is related to the self-awareness of sleepy level. That is, When you are lying in your bed, your mind and body know how tired you are. As a result, your body and brain will respond and send signals to impact your sleep behavior. In an ideal scenario of a full night’s sleep, you will spend only 2-5% of your total sleep on the stage of wakefulness and soon transfer to the second stage of light sleep.
If you take 1 hour or longer to switch from full alertness into the stage of light sleep, you may experience problems like insomnia caused by stress, poor sleep hygiene, or oversleeping. Possibly the most powerful factor of insomnia, stress can come from anywhere, such as the workplace, family, or school. Your brain will not be relaxed if you are too nervous or thinking too much. Keeping thinking about some troubles you have during the day or even the simple question of “why can’t I sleep” can increase stress level and negative emotion, which will result in a negative sleep cycle that leads to insomnia.
On the other hand, if you take less than 5 minutes, it can also signify certain problems like sleep deprivation. This can be a sign showing that you have not gotten enough sleep for a while. Lack of sleep can cause you to fall asleep too often due to being over-exhausted. Keep in mind if you find yourself fall asleep too easily at any time other than your regular sleeping time, this could be a warning of your poor body condition.
How To Fix Sleep Problems?
So how can we arrange our sleeping time more correctly? To develop a healthy sleep routine,
it is important to remember that you need 7-8 hours of sleep. If possible, go to bed around the same time every day (no late than 12 am) and wake up at the same time. Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol and heavy eating meals in the evening. You should also avoid activity that can raise your heart rate 2 hours before going to bed. In general, a healthy sleep routine requires a relatively fixed sleeping schedule and a calm body that is ready to sleep.
Once you go to bed, if you take too long to fall asleep, here are three tips to help you fall asleep faster. First, it is recommended to have a “no phone use” rule one hour before your sleep since screen light will affect the amount of melatonin produced by your body. The decrease of melatonin can be a crucial factor in how long it takes to fall asleep. Second, improve your sleeping environment. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and at the temperature you like. You can also get yourself very comfortable bedding by switching pillows, blankets, and mattresses. Thirdly, one thing I find that works for me very well is to read something boring. Every time I read a book about pre-modern history on my bed, it takes less than 10 minutes for me to feel sleepy.