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How Long Does It Take for the Average Person to Fall Asleep?

Updated May 16, 2024
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Getting enough sleep is something we all require as part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet while some people never have any difficulty getting their shut-eye, others struggle on a nightly basis when it comes to drifting off. Have you ever wondered how long it takes for most of us to fall asleep?

Although there is significant variation among individuals, it takes the average healthy person between 10 and 20 minutes to succumb to slumber after lying down. This period is known as “sleep latency.”

Various factors can affect sleep latency, including age, physical and mental health, alcohol intake, medications, pain, and the surrounding environment. Although some people naturally fall asleep more quickly than others, a short sleep latency of less than eight minutes may be an indication of sleep deprivation, sleep debt, or even an underlying sleep disorder.

On the other hand, insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) is common among people struggling with depression or anxiety. Medical conditions like heart disease have also been linked with sleeping difficulties. Caffeine, steroids, asthma medications, antidepressants, and beta blockers can also interfere with sleep.

If you’re having difficulty falling asleep, you’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 1 in 3 U.S. adults doesn't get enough sleep. Signs of sleep deprivation include irritability, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and muscle tension. However, the good news is that simple lifestyle changes like establishing a bedtime routine may aid in improving sleep quality and duration.

You're getting sleepy:

  • There are four stages of sleep divided into the categories of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. A full sleep cycle can take up to 120 minutes to complete.

  • A person with a circadian rhythm disorder may have difficulty falling asleep. Your circadian rhythm is largely responsible for managing body temperature, metabolism, and sleep. Furthermore, people who work night shifts may have trouble falling asleep in the daytime because light affects our circadian rhythms. Natural light is designed to make us alert, while darkness is meant to make us sleepy.

  • Sleep paralysis is a disorder that can cause sleep deficiency. A person with sleep paralysis may sometimes feel like they are unable to move upon waking, or they may experience hallucinations upon falling asleep.

  • Exposure to blue light from electronic devices within a few hours of bedtime can contribute to difficulties falling asleep.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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