How Long Should It Actually Take To Fall Asleep? We Asked An Expert

Photo by BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy

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.

This got us wondering, is there an average time it takes most people to fall asleep? To find out, we asked neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D.

How long it takes most people to fall asleep.

It can be hard to know how long it typically takes you to fall asleep personally because of course, you can’t check the time once you’re snoozing. Nevertheless, you probably have an estimate in mind, whether it’s 10 minutes or half an hour.

While everyone is different, Willeumier says it takes most people from five to 20 minutes to fall asleep. 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 anxious about,” she says.ADVERTISEMENT

How to fall asleep in your ideal range.

When you have an idea of how long it usually takes you to fall asleep, you can account for that when planning your bedtime.

Willeumier notes that on nights when there’s underlying stress or anxiety, you might want to start winding down even sooner since it may take you a bit longer to fall asleep.

She also recommends incorporating a magnesium supplement, such as mbg’s sleep support+, into your routine about half an hour 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 can help enhance sleep quality, support a healthy circadian rhythm, and promote a steady state of relaxation so you can fall asleep faster.*

On top of that, she suggests dimming the lights an hour or two before bed to help signal the body that sleep is near. “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.” Making sure the temperature is somewhere between 60° and 67° Fahrenheit also helps prepare the body to sleep, she says.

And if you’re particularly stressed, Willeumier recommends doing something calming, such as meditating, taking a bath or shower, reading, or even listening to nature noises. (You can check out more of her tips for better sleep here!)

The bottom line.

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.


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