How long should it take you to fall asleep?

New research shines a light on the ideal time lapse between going to bed and falling asleep

We all experience sleep a little differently. For some of us, sleep comes easily and we quickly fall into a deep slumber. For others, things are a little trickier, and it can take a long time to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow.

However, new research has suggested how long it should take you to fall asleep at night, in order to experience the highest level of sleep quality. We’re going to take a closer look at these findings, and explore the various ways you can improve your sleep with a few simple investments and lifestyle changes.

So if you’re hoping to improve the quality of your sleep, read on.

The findings

The study, conducted by the Sleep Council in partnership with Northumbria University examined the time it takes us to fall asleep at night. Findings suggested that the length of this period of time is a key indicator of our overall sleep health.

The research found that those who take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep may experience a lower level of sleep efficiency overall. However, it also stated that falling asleep in less than 5 minutes could be a sign of sleep debt, meaning you’re forcing your body to stay up longer than it wants to.

The optimum amount of time it should take to fall asleep is between 10 and 15 minutes, according to the study. These are the individuals who were found to be most likely of having good sleep health.

The findings also shone a light on what may be stopping people falling asleep within this ideal timeframe. Specifically, the study suggested that focusing on trying to get to sleep can be detrimental. Actively trying to fall asleep is both physically and emotionally intense; leading to feelings of panic or frustration which can have a direct impact on your levels of relaxation.

How can you improve your sleep quality?

If you’re one of the people who struggles to fall asleep, who frequently wakes during the night, or who generally wakes up feeling tired and lethargic, what can you do to improve the quality of your sleep? These simple changes can make all the difference.

Get into a routine

Routine is crucial to improving your sleep health. By establishing a designated time for going to sleep and waking up, you’ll find that your body naturally learns when it should be winding down for the night. For the best results, you should stick to your routine even on the weekends.

Change your eating and drinking habits

Certain foods and drinks – like coffee, alcohol and sugary snacks – can make it more difficult to fall asleep if you consume them soon before going to bed. A well-balanced dinner three to four hours before bed is the best way to fuel your body for sleep.

Avoid electronics

Bright screens can disrupt your body’s release of melatonin: the body’s natural sleep hormone which thrives in darkness. It’s also been shown that scrolling through social media right up until bed time can make you feel more anxious, making it more difficult to fall asleep quickly. Try to get into the habit of putting your phone away for at least an hour before bedtime, instead opting to read a book or engage in some relaxing meditation.

Create the ideal sleep space

Light and temperature both play a huge role in impacting our ability to fall asleep. The ideal sleep space is cool and dark, with a comfortable mattress and pillow set that supports the spine as your sleep, helping you avoid aches and pains.

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