Exactly How Long It Should Take You To Fall Asleep, From A Neuroscientist
While some people can easily fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, others aren't so lucky. It can be exhausting (literally and figuratively) to lie awake at night which got us wondering, is there an average time it takes most people to fall asleep?
To find out how long it should take to fall asleep, we asked neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D.
How long it takes most people to fall asleep.
According to Willeumier, it takes most people from five to 20 minutes to fall asleep—though everyone is different. If you're on the lower end of that range, consider yourself lucky!
Falling asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed is a good sign your body and mind were ready to snooze, and you're on your way to a night of deep, high-quality sleep. However, Willeumier notes that people shouldn't get too caught up in hitting that 20-minute mark night after night. After all, stressing about falling asleep will usually end up keeping you awake longer.
She adds that if you don't get to sleep within 20 minutes, that doesn't mean you're not going to get good sound sleep. "If it takes you an hour to get to sleep, that's OK. It's not worth getting stressed about," she says.
5 tips to help you fall asleep faster.
Plan a realistic bedtime.
When you have an idea of how long it usually takes you to fall asleep, you can account for that when planning your bedtime. This bedtime should stay relatively consistent, though Willeumier notes that on nights when there's underlying stress or anxiousness, you might want to start winding down even sooner since it may take you a bit longer to fall asleep.
Take magnesium before bed.
Willeumier also recommends incorporating a magnesium supplement (such as mbg's sleep support+) into your routine about one to two hours before you get in bed.
"Most of the time, people aren't sleeping because their mind is still spinning. So we have to find ways to calm that down, which is why I love magnesium,"* she explains. Magnesium is an essential mineral, and certain forms of it can help enhance sleep quality, support a healthy circadian rhythm, and promote a steady state of relaxation.*
Dim the lights and get off electronics.
On top of that, she suggests dimming the lights an hour or two before bed to help signal the body that sleep is near and kickstart your melatonin production. "I find that dimming the lights is one of the most critical things," she adds. "If you're going to bed at 10 p.m. and having trouble sleeping, you might want to start dimming the lights at 8."
When you dim your lights, ideally you'll also stop using electronics that emit stimulating blue light, like cellphones and laptops.
Turn down the temperature.
Making sure your bedroom temperature is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit also helps prepare the body to sleep, she says.
Do something calming.
And to ensure you're not going to bed stressed, Willeumier recommends doing something calming, such as meditating, journaling, taking a warm bath or shower, reading, or listening to nature noises. (You can check out more of her tips for better sleep here!)
It takes most people around five to 20 minutes to fall asleep—but don't worry too much if it takes you a bit longer. The less we stress about falling asleep within a certain window, the more likely we are to relax and naturally drift off to dreamland.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.