How long does it take you to fall asleep at night? 5 minutes? Or does it take you 30 minutes or more to drift off into your nightly slumber?
With the time it takes you to nod off (also called sleep latency) being an important indicator of sleep health, we’ve shared a few tips on how you can get to sleep faster. Sleep latency is the length of time it takes you to go from your head hitting the pillow to being asleep.
The average amount of time is between 10 and 20 minutes,1 with research suggesting a sleep latency of 10 to 15 minutes is more likely to lead to a good night’s rest.2
But what if it regularly takes you longer to drop off?
If you’re struggling to nod off, learning how to go to sleep faster can seem like an impossible task. But there are some simple techniques that can help you…
It may take you some time to find the perfect sleep environment, but you’d be surprised at how much your bedroom impacts your overall ability to fall and stay asleep every night.
While you may think it’s a slumber time haven, in reality, this may not be the case, with everyday life preventing your bedroom from being the place you associate with relaxation and sleeping.
One of the most fundamental elements of falling asleep more quickly is making sure your surroundings (AKA your bedroom) is set up to enable this.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make massive changes to your bedroom to make it more sleep-friendly.
You just need to make some subtle changes here and then, including:
As obvious as it sounds, if your body isn’t ready for sleep, you’re likely to find it more difficult to drop off. If you feel all fired up from a busy day at work or just a busy day generally, it can mean it takes longer for you to wind down and feel relaxed, if at all.
If you’re one of those people who struggles to drop off, then it’s essential you make sure your mindset is in sleep mode around bed-time and your body will naturally follow.
Plus it’s also important you generally start to wind down the later it gets, so that your brain and body get chance to slow down and unwind too.
Here are a few things you can do to help you slip into slumber mode:
Working long hours. Trying to keep up with a hectic family life. And then managing all of the other stresses life throws at you can all contribute to difficulties falling asleep.
And if you’re on your laptop or phone in the evening or doing high-energy exercise 1 or 2 hours before bed, your mind simply isn’t going to be in sleep mode by the time you do get into bed, regardless of how tired you may feel or you’d like it to be.
Here are a few ways you can help wind down your mind ready for bedtime:
So far, we’ve only mentioned the drinks to avoid. However, lots of people find certain herbal drinks can help them unwind and fall asleep, although at the moment there isn’t enough research to support this.
It’s also worth mentioning avoid consuming lots of liquid before bed as this can result in a full bladder and having to get up in the night to go to the bathroom.
If you’re looking for a natural sleep remedy, herbal teas are a popular option.
If you’re wondering why you’re spending a long time in bed trying to sleep (but not actually sleeping), it could be due to a number of things:
While being able to fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow may sound like the stuff of dreams, falling asleep in 10-15 minutes is perfectly healthy and much more realistic! Making it happen instantly may not be achievable for everybody but there are techniques that can certainly make the whole process a lot quicker.
This includes the 4-7-8 method we mentioned above, which combines meditation and visualisation.12
One step on from 4-7-8 is Progressive Muscle Relaxation or PMR, which involves tensing and relaxing at least 16 muscle groups, from your toes all the way up to your forehead.
The key to doing both of these exercises and falling asleep more quickly is doing them on a daily basis. The more you do them, the more familiar you will be with what the steps are and how they make you feel.
You’ll also find that you naturally hone the routines as you get more used to doing them.
The main thing is that you repeat them every day and that you don’t let any other interruptions (e.g. your mobile phone or the TV) get in the way during or immediately after doing them as it will undo all of your hard work.
Unfortunately, we can’t just wave a magic wand and instantly fall asleep (if only we could!) But that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain changes we can make to help us get to sleep sooner.
It’s important to remember though that everybody is different, so what works for one person, may not work for the other.
Fortunately, there are lots of different techniques out there that can help you drift off more quickly. Many of these changes are really easy to embrace, it’s just a case of remembering to do them and refining them as you go along.
Where possible, start with one or two changes and then continue to build upon them.
If you find success with something, stick with it, and if you find something isn’t working, try something else until you develop a sleep regime that works for you.
Visit our Sleep & Relaxation Hub for more guidance on how to sleep well, including top tips and a quiz to find the products right for you.
For more in-depth support, you can speak directly with qualified sleep experts through a one-to-one video consultation for personalised and private advice.