Why does it take me an hour to fall asleep

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How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?

In this Article
  • How long does it take to fall asleep?
  • Factors that influence falling asleep
  • Tips for falling asleep earlier
  • How to fix a sleeping schedule
  • Insomnia

Most people have experienced difficulty falling asleep at one time or another. For some people, the problem is temporary, perhaps only lasting a night or two, and may be related to ongoing stress or worries. For others, the problem may be chronic and last for many weeks or months. How long does it take to fall asleep? Find out some answers and get some tips on how you can fall asleep faster.

Why does it take me an hour to fall asleep

How long does it take the average person to fall asleep?

The time it takes for you to go from wakefulness to sleep is called sleep latency. Doctors and scientists consider 1020 minutes a normal amount of time to fall asleep. In general, if it takes more than 20 minutes or less than 10 minutes, your body may be trying to tell you something.

  • If it takes you too long to fall asleep, such as an hour or more, you may be struggling with insomnia. Insomnia can happen if you have trouble relaxing or turning off your brain at night. It can also happen if your body isnt ready to fall asleep, perhaps because of too much caffeine or having traveled across multiple time zones. You may want to consider talking to a doctor if falling asleep is becoming a persistent problem.
  • If you fall asleep very soon after getting into bed, it may be a sign that youre not sleeping enough. If this is the case, make it a priority to get more sleep. If you dont, it can lead to other health problems.

Sleep and brain waves

It takes the average person about seven minutes to reach a sleep-like state where alpha brain waves take over and they enter a phase somewhere between wakefulness and sleeping. This state is often described as dreamlike, hazy, and peaceful, sometimes with mild hallucinations. Then theta brain waves take over, and you enter the first full stage of light sleep. Brain waves slow down even more in very deep sleep and are called delta waves.

Factors that influence how fast you can go to sleep

Your brain is a big influence on how fast you can fall asleep, mainly due to the chemicals that are released in certain regions. Cells within the hypothalamus and brainstem, for instance, produce a chemical called GABA, which works to reduce the activity of arousal centers in these brain regions. The release of adenosine from cells in the forebrain also promotes sleep.

Some activities you do throughout the day can influence how fast you end up falling asleep. Try to avoid these before bedtime, as they can promote wakefulness instead of sleepiness.

Stress is a big factor that influences how long it takes some people to fall asleep. When worrisome thoughts keep you up at night, its hard for your brain to calm down and fall asleep.

Poor sleep hygiene can also make it hard to fall asleep. Things like drinking caffeine too late in the day, eating big meals for dinner, or exercising too late at night can all influence how quickly you fall asleep. Using technology before bed can contribute to keeping you awake. The blue light emitted from tablets, smartphones, and laptops wakes up your brain and can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Tips to start falling asleep earlier

To train yourself to fall asleep earlier, you need to develop a solid nighttime routine and stick to it every day. Maybe your schedule has changed and you need to start waking up earlier for school or work, or maybe you find youre not getting enough rest and want to try going to bed earlier.

To train yourself to fall asleep earlier, you need to develop a solid nighttime routine and stick to it every day.

Whatever the reason, you can fall asleep earlier with some effort, and these tips may make the transition to an earlier bedtime easier:

  • Set a specific bedtime for yourself and stick to it. Turn off all digital devices about 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed. Instead, relax with a book.
  • If youre trying to go to bed substantially earlier, such as an hour or two, its best to do it in gradual stages. Bump up your bedtime by 15 minutes for a week, then try 30 minutes earlier the next week, and so on.
  • Exercise earlier in the day, at least four hours before bed. Working out during the day can help you fall asleep at night because your body has been active. There is an exception: performing gentle yoga poses or light stretches before bed might help you drift off more quickly.
  • Dont drink caffeine in the evening. Caffeine counteracts sleepiness by blocking the actions of adenosine.
  • Set an alarm to prevent oversleeping on weekends, which can cause even more sleep problems.

How to fix your sleep schedule

If youre trying to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, its important to stay consistent. That means you have to stick to your sleep schedule during the week and on weekends. Adjusting your sleep schedule takes some work, but it can be done if you stick to it.

Your body clock regulates your circadian rhythm, which is how your body knows when its time to be awake and when its time to go to sleep.

Changing your sleep schedule involves resetting your body clock. Your body clock regulates your circadian rhythm, which is how your body knows when its time to be awake and when its time to go to sleep.

Many things can cause your sleep schedule to get out of whack. Maybe you stayed up too late over the weekend or youve traveled across multiple time zones. Whatever the reason, try these tips to fix your sleep schedule:

  • Adjust your bedtime carefully, but be patient. Pushing it forward an hour or two right away likely wont be effective. Instead, aim for 15-minute increments each week or every two to three days.
  • Dont nap during the day, even if you feel tired. Napping can interfere with your nighttime sleep.
  • Get up at the same time every day, and go to bed at the same time every night. Set an alarm if you have to, because being consistent is an important part of maintaining your ideal sleep schedule.
  • Be strict about your bedtime. Once youve achieved your optimal times for going to sleep and waking up, dont veer from them. This could throw off your schedule, and youll have to start all over again.
  • Melatonin may be helpful. Check with your doctor first, especially if youre already taking other medications.

How do you know you have insomnia?

Only a doctor can determine whether or not you have insomnia, but some common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty remaining asleep waking up multiple times during the night and having trouble going back to bed, waking up too early in the morning
  • Sleep that doesnt feel refreshing or restorative
  • Constant fatigue or low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Mood changes, such as feeling irritable

If you find insomnia interferes with your relationships with friends, family, or colleagues, it may be helpful to get some professional assistance.

Insomnia is considered chronic if it occurs at least three nights a week for at least three months. If you find you have consistently low energy during the day from lack of sleep, or if its interfering with your relationships with friends, family, or colleagues, it may be helpful to get some professional assistance.

The takeaway

In general, you should be able to fall asleep most nights in 1020 minutes. If its consistently taking you longer than that, you may want to talk to a doctor about possible symptoms of insomnia. If you fall asleep right away, it may be a sign you need more rest, and you should consider adjusting your sleep schedule. Sleep is important for the overall health of your mind and body, so its important to make sure youre getting the rest you need.

Updated on 02/05/2022
Why does it take me an hour to fall asleep
Olga Adereyko, MD Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant at Flo
References
https://www.sleep.org/articles/how-long-to-fall-asleep/ https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/patient-caregiver-education/understanding-sleep https://www.sleep.org/articles/train-go-sleep-earlier/ https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/symptoms

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