Do I Have Insomnia: How Long Does It Take To Fall Asleep?
By: Michael Puskar
Updated January 26, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC
Sleeping is a necessity that refreshes our bodies and minds. Should our sleep routine be disrupted, it may affect our ability to function. But, how would you fix a disrupted sleep schedule? The first step is to identify the sleep dilemma, and then you can develop a strategy on how to fix it.
How Long Does It Take to Fall Asleep?
It's considered normal to fall asleep in 10 to 20 minutes. If you are falling asleep faster or longer than this, your body may be trying to tell you something.
If your issue is falling asleep too quickly, it may mean that you are not sleeping enough. In this case, it would be best to fit sleeping into your schedule, preferably in an eight-hour span each night. On the other hand, if it takes you longer than an hour to fall asleep, it's a sign that your body is sleeping too much or that you are struggling with insomnia. The latter can occur if a situation in your life is preventing you from relaxing.
Insomnia can also occur if you've consumed too much caffeine or sugar too close to bedtime. A changing sleep schedule can affect how long it takes you to fall asleep as well. This can include jet lag or a shift change at work. Reducing your caffeine and sugar intake and maintaining a regular sleep routine can prevent insomnia. However, it takes long-time insomniacs about two hours to get to sleep at night. In this case, the best thing you can do is remove all alerting stimuli in your bedroom, such as lights, electronics, and books, and wait for sleep to come. Watching television or reading will give the body the impression you wish to stay awake and will lengthen the task of falling asleep.
Other factors for sleep disorders could be snoring and central sleep apnea, which is “pauses in breathing while asleep,” according to Stanford Health Care. Also recognized as disrupting or preventing a restful night sleepare restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, andsleep terrors.If you have any of these factors or think you might, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can provide you with treatment or point you in the direction of a specialist.
Other Ways to Fight Off Insomnia
While the tips mentioned above can be considered a first-line approach to addressing insomnia and can be implemented right away, there are other possible solutions that can help you overcome your sleep difficulties.
Relaxation Techniques: If you have trouble falling asleep effortlessly, you might benefit from trying to induce relaxation. This can be done by taking a deep breath through your nose, holding it for a few seconds, then slowly exhaling through your mouth. Repeat this a few times, and you'll notice you'll feel calmer and less tense.
Exercise and Yoga: Incorporating physical activity into your routine can help promote sleep by reducing stress and anxiety. However, it can also make you feel more energized throughout the day, so try to keep your workouts in the morning or afternoon, and not too close to your bedtime.
Hot Showers or Baths: Nothing feels better than a good soak after strenuous activity to get the muscles loosened. It’s almost like having a full body massage but without the bill. If you’ve done this after exercising, then you most likely felt relaxed and even sleepy after. You can use this technique to help you fall asleep faster. About an hour or two before going to bed, take a hot shower or bath for at least 10 minutes. The temperature of the water should be around 104 degrees Fahrenheit.A study has shown that the warm water brings blood to the surface, which means that heat is brought to the surface and out of your core.Now your body core temperature will drop faster. A person’s core temperature drops around two degrees for sleep. If you can make this happen faster, then you’ll fall asleep faster.
If anything, taking a shower or bath at night might calm you down after a stressful day and free you up the morning. No need to hop in the shower while trying to brush your teeth because you already showered the night before.
Get Out of Bed: Not necessarily a way to fight it off, but it can be a helpful way to deal with insomnia. Whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it’s important not to stay in bed tossing and turning. It’s also not helpful to keep looking at the clock, ruminating, becoming angry because you can’t sleep, or focusing on that bent of light on your ceiling that’s coming through the blinds. Get up! Move to another room and do something relaxing. This might be the time to do a little reading with only enough light to allow you to read. Or, make a glass of warm milk or something else that doesn’t contain sugar or caffeine, sit in a comfortable chair and think about something pleasant. By the way, warm milk may be comforting, which is why you might find it calming and thereby making you sleepy. But there is no evidence that milk itself is a natural sleep aid. Another activity is listening to music that relaxes you. The important thing to remember is not to do anything that will overstimulate your mind. Calm, relaxing activities are what the doctor ordered.
Medication: Using sleep-aids can be a quick solution to treating sleep difficulties. They should always be taken under the supervision of your doctor because some of them can be habit-forming or have undesirable side effects. They also do not address the underlying reasons for your insomnia, but it can be a useful tool, for the short term, to use alongside changing your sleep habits.
Sleep Disorders Centers
Sometimes known as sleep clinics, sleep disorders centersare places people with trouble sleeping go for observation. There, you will sleep in a room set up to look like a bedroom, more precisely a hotel room. You’ll also have people trained in sleep disorders to observe you throughout the night. Some of the things they’ll observe are leg movements, oxygen levels in the blood, and eye movements. They’ll know these because your face, chest, and limbs will have electrode sensors affixed to them. Data from these sensors are then used to determine any causes that could be interfering with your sleep.
If you decide to go to a sleep center, your doctor will want you to avoid sugar, caffeine, and napping the afternoon of the assessment. Most likely, your doctor will have wanted you to keep a sleep journal. Here, you’ll record your own sleep patterns. This will be used to compare to what is observed at the center.
When to Seek Help from a Therapist
If you’ve tried all or some of the above and are still experiencing sleep difficulties or insomnia, you might want to consider therapy. A licensed therapist can help you explore any causes contributing to your disrupted sleep. Here, you’ll have a safe space, and without fear of judgement, to talk about any issues or problems you are facing. With a therapist to guide you, you might find resolution or learnconstructive responses to circumstances in your life, which could help you get a restful night’s sleep.
Another option is to seek a therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). With this type of therapy, you’ll learnhow to change the thoughts and behaviors that might be contributing to your problems with sleeping.
Whether you look for a therapist to talk about issues or to learn how to use CBT or both, consider an online therapist. A licensed online therapist can help you treat your insomnia at the source, helping you maintain a healthy and refreshing sleep cycle for good.
BetterHelp Can Help
If you’re still wondering about online therapy, BetterHelp can give you the information you need to make an informed decision. Our licensed therapists are available to talk at any time, even at night when you cannot sleep. You also have the convenience of speaking with a therapist where you feel most comfortable. Below arereviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
Check out some of the following reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"I tried a few counselors and almost gave up until I found Colleen. I love her! She's easy to talk to, really gets me and best of all she makes me feel like I'm talking to a friend. She's given me some great tips and I'm sleeping better already most nights."
"Dr. Marote is great! She has helped me a lot. I have noticed a huge improvement in just two weeks. I feel comfortable during our weekly sessions and she is a great listener. She has also provided me with many helpful tips to overcome my anxiety and insomnia. I am truly happy I found her here on BetterHelp."
Try incorporating better sleep habits into your routine. Remember to give yourself time to adjust. Just as you haven’t been sleeping well for awhile, you might need some time for the new habits to kick in. If you need additional assistance, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor or a therapist who can help you start getting a good night's rest once again. Take the first step to restful nights today.
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