How long does it take you to fall asleep?
March 26, 2017 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I generally fall asleep very quickly. Kiss my husband, light out, head on pillow, and I'm out. My husband finds this remarkable and says it generally takes him 15-30 minutes to sleep. Google tells me most people fall asleep within ten minutes, and falling asleep too quickly can indicate over-tiredness, but I've been like this forever and don't feel tired at all. Because my husband has always been so surprised by this (even after many years bedsharing), I am curious to know how long it actually takes others to fall asleep! More sleepflakes within.

The other thing that makes this a bit odd is that it happens if we watch movies or TV: if I lie down, I'll often, but not always, fall asleep within a couple of minutes. I don't think it's a sign of narcolepsy and I'm glad I don't struggle with tossing and turning...but curious to know if I have some strange sleep anomaly. I am a midwife and this does benefit me on late hospital shifts so I can catch some quick zzzs but I've had this uninsomnia long before I began this career, so don't think it is a training issue. I can also lie flat and read books for hours, so I don't think it's purely positional. (As with any sleep query, I should mention that I don't snore, I wake fully rested, etc.)

How long does it take you to fall asleep, and if you are an insta-sleeper, does it affect you in other recumbent positions, or just at bedtime?
posted by stillmoving to Health & Fitness (54 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am one of those people who has a hard but not impossible time sleeping, someone for whom "sleep hygiene" has been a total game changer. I treat sleep like it is my JOB and have been keeping a sleep journal all this year. Part of not getting all anxious about sleeping, for me, is that I don't check the clock once I am in bed with the lights off. However, I am one of those people who takes 20-30 minutes to get to sleep on a good night. My SO is like you, he can basically fall asleep whenever he's horizontal. I've talked to a lot of people about this and it seems like, among my friends at least, it's about 50/50 quick sleepers and slow sleepers. I think you and your SO are both normal. Ignore Google, conflict sells advertising and telling people they are doing something wrong is one of the best ways to do that. You are fine.
posted by jessamyn at 12:59 PM on March 26 [9 favorites]


I think there is a great deal of variability there. For most of her life my mother could decide to take a 30 minute nap, lie down, close her eyes and immediately go asleep, and wake up 30 minutes later.
posted by slkinsey at 1:01 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


another insta-sleeper here: from lights-out to fast asleep in a couple of breaths, according to (and to the immense annoyance of) ms scruss. I very seldom fall asleep while watching TV. I used to be an avid bed-reader, but less so now: if I'm in bed, and it's late, I'm asleep.
posted by scruss at 1:02 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I am more like your husband. It typically takes me between 20-45 minutes to fall asleep (and I'll have bad weeks where it will take me over an hour to get to sleep each night, before I go back to my normal cycle). My husband, however, is like you which makes me so jealous! 5 minutes after we lie down in bed, he'll be snoring besides me. He also falls asleep often at the movies, or lying on the couch watching TV.

I agree wih jessamyn that both are normal, don't worry too much about it if it isn't posing you any problems!
posted by Blissful at 1:02 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


There is nothing wrong! I'm very jealous. On a good night I can be asleep within 15-30 minutes, but on a bad night it can be hours, and like jessamyn said above, it can be a serious source of anxiety, which feeds into itself. My husband is much like you, however; I can only remember him having trouble at times of major personal distress, like when he was getting laid off; otherwise he's out like a light.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:04 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


When I was in my mid 20s/early 30s it wasn't unusual for it to take an hour for me to fall asleep. I'm now in my early 50s and it varies wildly. Sometimes I'm out within 5-10 minutes. Sometimes it takes upwards of 30 minutes, especially if it's a weekend and I've had a nap during the day (and I do love naps--what a great invention!). In my case, I think part of the variance is due to hormones (I'm about 2 years into menopause).
I think if you're waking up feeling rested and you're not falling asleep at odd times, such as at the dinner table, there's no reason for concern.
posted by bookmammal at 1:08 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I've had many years where I was a major insomniac. I could spend five hours lying there trying to fall asleep. Like jessamyn, sleep hygiene is absolutely necessary for me. That means keeping a pretty regular sleep schedule, not checking the clock when I'm in bed, and so on.

Nowadays I tend to fall asleep instantly, but I think that's just how it seems in retrospect. The only reason I say that is because I vaguely recall shifting my pillow last night, which I do when I'm having trouble falling asleep, but I don't remember any trouble sleeping. As far as I can recall, I was out like a light.

My girlfriend has never had any trouble falling asleep, and many times I have watched her fall asleep immediately (like, snoring with her mouth open) and then wake up later and insist that she has been awake the whole time (sometimes I'll say "you know it's three in the morning" and she'll say "oh").

Obviously it will take some people longer than others to fall asleep -- I know for a fact that it used to take me much longer than it does now. But now I'm also wondering how often it's a perception issue. It may actually take me longer to fall asleep than her, but we'd probably say it's the other way around based on how we perceive it. Or it may be that she's in that sort of twilight sleep longer than I am, and that accounts for the difference. But self-reporting anything having to do with sleep is really tricky.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:09 PM on March 26


It takes me over an hour to get to sleep, but I know that's not normal. My partner takes about 15 minutes to half an hour to fall asleep.

Falling asleep that quickly can be a sign of overtiredness, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some people who just naturally fall asleep that quickly.

But here are a couple things to consider:

- You say that you don't feel tired, but you mention hospital shifts and catching some zzzs. If you're napping, I would argue you are experiencing tiredness. But it wasn't clear if this is a regular occurrence or just on odd shifts, which is probably normal.

- Even if you don't feel tired, how is your focus? One thing that can happen is while you don't physically feel tired, your brain may be tired and make it more difficult for you to focus. If you have issues with focus or memory, you may be experiencing overtiredness even if you don't feel tired.

- How often do you stay up past your bedtime? When you do, do you feel tired? It may be that you go to bed right as you hit your overtired state. If you stay up later and find yourself very tired, you may be experiencing overtiredness.

Overall, if it's not impacting your life, I don't think it's something to worry about. But it's possible it could be affecting you in small ways. Of course, it's also possible that it's just a quirk of your biological clock, and I envy you for it. :)
posted by brook horse at 1:11 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


If conditions are normal I fall asleep close to instantly. I have often asked my husband to read to me and then asked him in the morning why he didn't, as I have no recollection of being read to, and it'll turn out he read for several minutes, I just zonked completely the moment he started.

Also, every so often I do have trouble falling asleep, and in those cases I often notice that hubs, despite his assertion that it takes him a long time to do so, will have fallen deeply asleep within 5-10 minutes of lights out. So don't assume your husband is right about the big differential.

As to other conditions: if left to my own devices while watching reasonably soothing television on the couch, I will fall deeply asleep. David Attenborough starts explaining what the monkeys are thinking about and I'm gooooooone.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:18 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I get a lot of static from my partner because I'll be talking merrily along (to help her get to sleep) as we lie in bed and then suddenly just stop in the middle of a sentence -- sometimes the middle of a word -- dead asleep and usually difficult to arouse again.

I try to explain that I often go to sleep well before I stop talking, but this cuts no ice. Though recently, when I voiced surprise at finding my mother's coffin orbiting around one of the moons of Mars, I may have gained a little credibility.
posted by jamjam at 1:29 PM on March 26 [15 favorites]


With meds, about an hour. Without meds, approximately never.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:29 PM on March 26 [18 favorites]


It almost always takes me at least half an hour to fall asleep once I'm in bed, sometimes considerably more, and sometimes I give up entirely. I can't reliably sleep during the day, either, so I can't really nap unless I'm pretty sick. When I'm sleep deprived, I can sometimes fall asleep sitting on the couch, but only for 10-15 minute increments.

I've read a lot of studies about sleep in the past, and I was surprised at how little anyone really knows about it. Many of the statistics I saw were based on weird and/or unreliable methodologies and a lot of speculation, so I take a lot of it with a grain of salt. So if you've been sleeping a specific way for all or most of your adult life, and it's not related to some kind of health issue you know of, I wouldn't assume there was anything wrong.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:33 PM on March 26


I generally fall asleep within two minutes of whenever I decide to stop reading my phone and close my eyes. Early thirties, feel like I've more or less always been like this. The one thing I cannot do is nap earlier - then I will lie awake trying to sleep. But as long as I don't do that, my husband reports that I'm out like a light near instantly. He is similar. Lately pregnancy has been waking me up in the middle of the night, either thirsty or needing to pee. As long as I don't give in the temptation to start reading my phone again I can generally fall asleep again pretty soon.
posted by peacheater at 1:45 PM on March 26


I take about 30 minutes when I'm on a good stretch. But often I'm not and it takes me many hours ( of also getting back up to read, trying again, etc). But I have narcolepsy along with depression and anxiety, and those are always affecting my sleep.
posted by Blitz at 1:46 PM on March 26


My mom does this, but she's generally really tired all the time (night owl + wakes up ridiculously early). It probably takes me an hour most of the time, but it's hard to tell without technology checking for me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:47 PM on March 26


I generally fall asleep in 5 minutes. However I also read in bed until I can barely stay awake, so by the time I turn out the light I'm already half-asleep.
posted by COD at 1:53 PM on March 26


I'm out in under 5 minutes most nights. It is rare to the point of remarkable for it to take me more than 10 minutes to fall asleep. I haven't always been like this- motherhood trained me into it.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:01 PM on March 26


Depends totally on stress level. Ten minutes sounds right if all is well in my world. But something deeply upsetting happened yesterday and it took me 2.5 hours.
posted by AFABulous at 2:04 PM on March 26


Different people are different, and you can also have different sleep patterns through life.
These days, I'm struggling with some stress issues, and can't fall asleep even though the only thing I really want is sleep.
But my normal pattern is less than 10 minutes to fall asleep at night, and less than 5 minutes to fall asleep when napping. I love naps! Afternoon nap is my favorite sleep and has been so since I can remember. I wish could always have a job that permitted napping. I heard about an old lady who had a custom-built giant pram in her garden, so she could nap outdoors all year. I want to be that lady.
posted by mumimor at 2:10 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Under normal conditions (no alcohol, I stopped drinking caffeine early in the afternoon, I remembered to take my evening medications, no excessive anxiety, my dog is with me) it takes me 30-60 minutes to fall asleep. And that's with decent sleep hygiene.

One or more of the factors described above will approximately double that time frame. Napping is basically impossible for me but I do enjoy what my dad calls "resting my eyes" (getting into bed or lying down on the couch and just vegging out).
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:31 PM on March 26


My job often involves physical labor outside, and then at night I have a drink and read in bed for a while. As soon as I turn off the light and close my eyes I'm asleep till morning. Always been an early to bed, early to rise person, and I never nap.
posted by scrubjay at 2:42 PM on March 26


I generally fall asleep within 5-10 minutes of turning off the lights; if it takes much longer, I know something is wrong. I have always been like this and do not think it means much. I can usually fall asleep this quickly when intending to sleep and lying down; it takes somewhat longer while sitting up and trying to sleep in a car or bus.

I do not typically fall asleep while watching tv or movies or while reading, either seated or lying.
posted by jeather at 2:43 PM on March 26


I'm an insta-sleeper too. People with insomnia find it baffling, but that doesn't mean it is abnormal. It just means that you and I are very, very lucky.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 3:16 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Husband, several friends I've camped with, and 1 granddaughter are out the second they hit the pillow.

Me, my sleep patterns are all over the place. If I'm out in the fresh air and riding, exercising, or working, I can sometimes zonk in 5-10 minutes and sleep straight through. If I get too tired though, I'll be up and have a crappy sleepless night after a couple hours. Average sleep time is probably 20 minutes, if I'm reading. If I lie there, I'll fuss and stew, even if I try chasing sheep or relaxation techniques, yadda yadda. Reading has always been what will turn off the mental chat. I can wake up 4-5 times and often fall back to sleep if I just attempt to read a page. Other times.... hopefully it's a good book.

I don't think the meds I'm on contribute to great sleep, and sometime the CPAP machine drives me nuts.

My lousy sleep hygiene came about as a result of poor sleep. Hygiene was good when I was younger. Getting old is not for sissies.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:28 PM on March 26


After turning off lights, putting away phone/laptop and lying down in bed when the tiredness hits, it takes me at least 30 minutes to fall asleep, but often 2 hours. Probably average about an hour. But I often find that the more tired I am and wait or am able to sleep, the longer it takes me to actually fall asleep.
posted by raztaj at 3:28 PM on March 26


1 hour, because even with good sleep practices I fidget and flip like a fish on the poopdeck. When I finally get into a perfect comfy position I'm out in a few minutes, but it takes me a long time to get to that point.
posted by InkDrinker at 3:33 PM on March 26


For me- 5 or 6 minutes generally.

I don't do anything in bed aside from sleep (and romantic stuff). In fact I'm rarely in the bedroom or even see the bedroom at all unless I'm sleeping. So my brain has associated my presence in the bedroom to sleep time.

Another thing that works well for me is I don't let myself fall into the trap of thinking I MUST fall asleep at a certain time. A lot of people who have trouble going to sleep fall into this trap of worrying that they are not falling asleep. So they toss and turn and get up feeling tired and awful. The truth is you don't have to be technically sleeping to be getting a good rest for your body. If you just tell yourself- 'I'm just going to lie here, rest my bones, rest my eyes and revel in the nice dark silence. And it doesn't matter if I lie here and don't end up falling asleep, I'm still having a nice relaxation'. You are way more likely to end up falling asleep. But even if you don't, just lieing there relaxed and with eyes closed for hours will actually give you the same benefit as sleeping for about half that time. So in other words- while just lying there doesn't give you equivalent rest to sleep, it gives you about half which is a hell of a lot more than what you get when you're tossing and turning and desperately telling yourself you "should" be sleeping already dammit. But very often you end up falling asleep anyway because you've taken the pressure off yourself by knowing that just lying there is ok.
posted by bearam at 3:35 PM on March 26 [7 favorites]


Lifetime instasleeper. I turn out the light, roll over, snuggle into my pillow, stretch out my feet until I hit peak dogbutt, and within three deep breaths (it takes three, you know, to sink into exact right depth in the mattress) I'm out until morning. I also need about 9-10 hours to function properly the next day. It's just always been this way.

Recent health issues this past 18 months or so have changed this -- I'm still usually out instantly for naps, but perhaps 3-6 nights a week I can't sleep like I used to. It's weird. There's this sort of acceptance on those nights that I don't feel right for sleeping and I know I'd toss and turn, so I'll sit up for 2-7 hours until I'm certain that I'm nearing instasleep. Once I feel like I'm at that point, I'm out.
posted by mochapickle at 3:46 PM on March 26


5-10 minutes, generally. I have sleep apnea, but the time-to-fall-asleep has pretty much always been true, both before treatment and now that my apnea is well-managed via CPAP. If it takes any longer than that, it's probably because I'm in some sort of anxiety or depression spiral and it may take hours. I don't really have an intermediate setting between "insta-sleep" and "insomnia."
posted by Stacey at 3:47 PM on March 26


I have been all these things at different times of my life, and different times of most years. Most of my life has been closer to 45 minutes but if I'm having a good run and I've had a good well-rounded day: a little exercise, some productivity, no major stress, some fresh air, good brain exercise, nothing too disruptive for dinner or drinks, and then also the husband and dogs go to sleep without any issues, I might be out in under 10 minutes.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:48 PM on March 26


Two to three hours... Am **hugely** envious, and can't believe *ten minutes* is typical (!).

If you're not tired, & feel generally good, it's probably not a problem.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:54 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


No matter how tired I am, it almost always takes me 10-20+ minutes of reading to fall asleep. Even then, sometimes I fall asleep with the book in my hand and when I wake up to turn the lamp off, it takes me another 5-10 minutes to actually fall deeply asleep.

My husband, on the other hand, I swear falls asleep with his hand on the light switch. One roll and he's out.

The weird thing is that I am the movie/tv/car narcoleptic but he NEVER falls asleep except for in bed.
posted by raspberrE at 3:58 PM on March 26


I perceive that it takes me 30-60 minutes to get to sleep. But when I had a sleep study done (not because of time it takes to fall asleep), I discovered that when I perceive that I'm still awake and my mind is just wandering as I wait to fall asleep -- I'm actually already in the first phase of sleep.

The morning after the study, the sleep lab tech said "You fell asleep as soon as your head hit the pillow." I said "Wait, really? Because I felt like it took at least half an hour" and he showed me the brain wave traces. I sure did, even though I'd felt like I was still awake and conscious. I'd perceived my mind wandering a bit -- but that was all.

So I'm wondering if some others who feel like it takes a long time to get to sleep are, like me, actually in light sleep and can't tell.
posted by snowmentality at 4:24 PM on March 26 [8 favorites]


You are very lucky. On the rare and best-possible of nights, I can fall asleep within 30-45 minutes. Most nights, it's more than an hour, and two hours is not unheard of. I've been like this for at least 40 years, and was much like this when I was in elementary school. While sleep hygiene methods can help, it's variable. Some nights, doing all the things will get me to sleep after about half an hour, but that's rare. But other than first thing in the morning (where I can get out of bed, have an alert-sounding phone conversation without anyone realizing I'd been sleeping, and get back in bed to be asleep within two minutes and sleep for 3 more hours), I am never tired. I suspect I am phase-shifted, as my father has always been much the same.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 4:25 PM on March 26


I would have guessed it took me 15-30 minutes, but then I started wearing a fitness tracker and it reckoned I averaged about 6 minutes before falling asleep. So one of us is wrong, and I could believe it's me. I suspect people's own estimate of this sort of thing can be very inaccurate.
posted by lollusc at 4:35 PM on March 26


No doubt, age is a factor here.

I'm 62 and I fall asleep reading or listening to a podcast sometime between 11:00 and 1:00. If I had to go to bed, turn out the lights, and wait in the dark until I fall asleep, I'm afraid I would still be waiting at sunrise. Further, I would need to be sedated to sleep later than ~6:30 am max—and that's after waking up a couple of times/night, perhaps reading for a few minutes or maybe getting up and actually doing something. Sometimes I nap in the afternoon or evening for about an hour.

I generally feel fine on less than 8 hours/night, but maybe 1/month I'll have a sleep catch-up day/night—often accompanied by a carpal tunnel episode, i.e., I've been working long hours doing something that triggers carpal tunnel pain (bad keyboard practices, power tools), which I cope with by trying to sleep through it.

If good sleep hygiene is as important to one's health as people say it is, I've got about 6 weeks left on this earth.
posted by she's not there at 4:40 PM on March 26


I just want to say that confounding people's estimations might be that they're asleep and not realize it. Honestly. There have been multiple instances where as far as I'm concerned I'm laying in bed frustrated at the fact that I cannot fall asleep when my wife will nudge me and ask me to change positions because I've been snoring for 15 minutes.

To more directly answer your question, I feel like it used to take me a lot longer, but at some point I feel like I've really gotten a lot faster at falling asleep. And it used to be once I woke up, I was up. Now with a baby and getting up multiple times a night, I'm either going back to sleep quickly or I dp need to get up for a few hours. My wife also falls asleep very quickly and can fall back asleep very quickly.
posted by cali59 at 5:28 PM on March 26


Really? No one mentioned sex?
After sex I'm asleep in five minutes; otherwise it's about two hours...
Come on honey I really need to sleep is not the best turn on though....
posted by SyraCarol at 5:49 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


As with any sleep query, I should mention that I don't snore, I wake fully rested

You're doing it right... everyone's different.

FWIW, If I'm at sort of a "normal" level of tired, i.e. I have been sleeping about normally and have not been running marathons or busting rocks all day, typically I read a novel in bed with an iPad Kindle app with the screen black/white text*, light level as low as possible, all lamps in the room out, and can generally do this for 15-30 minutes before becoming groggy. If I've been able to do all this in a quiet environment,** I will generally fall asleep almost instantly after reading to grogginess, putting the iPad and glasses on the bedside table, and laying back down.

But if I were to just lie down and try to go to sleep, I think it would be nearly impossible. I really need to read something (and NOT social media, news, email - fiction) to get out of "work" mode and be ready to sleep.



* I know this is controversial, and some blame back-lit devices on insomnia and other issues. That's why I turn down the back-lighting in this way as much as possible. If reading during the day I prefer white background. But it seems to work better than reading paper with a lamp on.

** or can ignore my family bouncing off the walls with the aid of ear plugs...
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:03 PM on March 26


20 minutes to an hour, every night. I have trouble falling asleep but have much less trouble staying asleep.

So, wine helps.
posted by desuetude at 6:08 PM on March 26


My husband is a VERY quick to sleep fellow. Once he literally fell asleep while telling me "I don't feel all that sle....zzzzzz." I take a super-long time. 30 minutes is fast for me. But in the morning, I can wake up and be dressed and ready to go out the door while he is barely crawling around the house. We are a land of contrasts.
posted by thebrokedown at 6:12 PM on March 26


I am very sleep deprived for years now, but it usually takes me 5 minutes to fall asleep at a normal hour, and maybe 10-15 if I'm trying to take a random nap. Has always been that way even when I used to get more normal amounts of sleep.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:15 PM on March 26


Another data point for menopause stealing my zzzzzs. I could always fall asleep immediately. My husband was always so envious. Now, after menopause, i also vary widely from two minutes to two hours. And now I snore.
posted by raisingsand at 7:18 PM on March 26


"My husband is a VERY quick to sleep fellow. Once he literally fell asleep while telling me "I don't feel all that sle....zzzzzz." I take a super-long time. 30 minutes is fast for me. But in the morning, I can wake up and be dressed and ready to go out the door while he is barely crawling around the house. We are a land of contrasts."

I am another insta-sleeper. However, I'm also the chipper one in the morning. My wife takes a good 30 minutes to fall asleep on an average night and probably that long to come anywhere near coherence in the morning.

Additional sleep notes on yours truly, which you didn't ask for: I rarely remember having dreamed at all. Sleep for me is typically a big black hole. As a result I feel pretty much that as soon as I sleep that means the next day is starting, since that's about how it feels. I lie down, then something starts beeping, so I sit up. Several years ago I finally put this together with the question, "Why, when I'm stressed out about things, do I stay up so late?" because the answer is avoidance. If I never go to sleep then it's never tomorrow. Laying down basically means having to face those problems immediately.
posted by komara at 9:28 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


I don't always know how long it takes me to fall asleep. Sometimes it's right away, sometimes it's hours. Sometimes the falloff is steep, and sometimes it's so gradual that I'm still thinking in sentences when I hear myself snore and it wakes me up. And sometimes I sleep like a dead tree until the alarm goes off or it's been several hours, and sometimes I wake up after 20 minutes and feel like it's been all night. It's always been this way.

Another thing is, even as a little kid, I can remember falling asleep or nodding off sitting up, not even in bed yet, and then after I get up and get into bed, taking up to half an hour to fall back to sleep.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:03 AM on March 27


At home in my own bed, it takes me approx. 20 seconds to fall asleep, and most of that time is spent beating my pillow into submission and organizing the duvet to my liking. I was a boring child to have on sleepovers (according to rumour, one is supposed to lay talking into the night), and sex doesn't always work well when your body thinks: "hey! bed - sleep" while your partner is getting undressed.

I can also fall asleep at any time, everywhere, sitting or lying down, as long as the intention is to fall asleep. But I rarely fall asleep if the point isn't sleeping, so I don't fall asleep in front of the telly, reading or other unless I'm sick or very tired.

The downside of it is that I can go to bed at any given time, fall asleep, and whether I've slept three hours or thirteen, I will wake up at 6 am. And if I fall asleep again then, I'll get a headache.
posted by mummimamma at 5:41 AM on March 27


The last year or so Ive been an insta-sleeper. Even when I had really bad insomnia my problem was never falling asleep, it was staying asleep. I tend to toss and turn a lot. Getting one of those full length body pillows really helped me with my sleep however. The pillow has a soft, faux fur cover and its so comforting to me that I fall asleep as soon as I curl up with it.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:01 AM on March 27


I am more like your husband, it takes me generally 20-35 minutes to fall asleep.

Sleep hygiene is massively important to me. If I'm not very attentive to routine, I might need an hour to fall asleep. Here is my formula:

Too hot or too cold? Add 10 min.
Meditate before bed? Less 10 min.
Not enough exercise that day? Add 15 min.
Weird noises or unusual activity in the house? Add 5 min.
White noise (e.g. fan/AC)? Less 15 min.
Going to bed on time? Less 10 min. Going to bed late? Add 15 min.

My partner is an instasleeper and is out in less than five minutes. I find it incredible.
posted by epanalepsis at 6:37 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


If all is well, 15-30 minutes for me. I use a wake-up light with a sunset function and give myself a 30 minute sunset every night. If my eyes crack open and the room isn't totally dark it soothes my fears of not being able to sleep ever. But add 15 or more minutes if anything is not well: any alcohol consumed, feeling cranky or worried about anything at all, unusual level of noise outside, light seeping through my blackout curtains, ad nauseum. Add another 30 minutes if I'm too warm or too cold. I very rarely fall asleep anywhere outside my bed and am envious of anyone who can sleep on a plane or have a solid nap on the couch!

My husband, on the other hand, falls asleep within 5 minutes of laying down, though he does report not feeling particularly rested if the ambient temperature is outside the optimal range. If he's on a plane, maybe 15 minutes.
posted by esoterrica at 9:24 AM on March 27


I'm 40 and can fall asleep within 5-10 minutes. Up until my mid-30s, it took 1-2 hours.

With age, my various sleep disorders (night terrors, sleep walking, paralysis) have gotten far less frequent (monthly episodes vs multiple times a week).

What hasn't changed with age: falling asleep as a car passenger on any ride longer than 15 minutes, being able to set my internal alarm clock down almost to the minute.
posted by Wossname at 9:35 AM on March 27


I'll echo the insta-sleeper jealousy, but I'm equally abnormal, just in the opposite extreme.

While I didn't do it specifically because of my chronic trouble both getting to sleep and waking up on time, I've found that one of the things that's made my life liveable has been ditching any adherence to a conventional schedule. I go to sleep when I'm tired and I get up when I get up.

In general, this means I basically live a 30-hour day, awake about 20 hours and then asleep about 10. I can do short stints on a normal day/night schedule when my help is needed by family for a week or so (because, of course, they live on a normal day/night schedule) but that means getting on average no more than 4 to 6 hours of sleep each night so after a week or two I have to go hibernate for a day or two.

Years ago I read about a sleep study done by isolating volunteers from any outside time signals and timing when they slept and woke on their own internal clocks. Turns out, something like 10% of the subjects naturally assumed a 30+ hour sleep/wake cycle! So maybe I'm not so abnormal after all, aside from my choice to run with it and decouple from the daily grind.
posted by MoTLD at 10:59 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Spouse 99% of the time falls asleep immediately in any position other than standing. He anounces, "I'm going to take a nap," sits down or lies down, and within a minute he's gently snoring, waking up 20-30 mins later refreshed. He falls asleep (and stays asleep) just fine sitting up in a cramped position on a sporadically loud, well-lit, temperature-challenged moving train. He sleeps in the car when someone else is driving. He falls asleep reading.

For me, I can fall asleep within 5-10 minutes, if I am in the exactly perfect position (lying down, stomach or side) stretched out on a good bed, and there are no noises, lights (except sunlight doesn't bother me .... I feel like I'm on a beach), nothing (other than PJs and bedclothes) is touching me, and no major worries or lists are being made in my head, etc. Or I can take 30 mins. My bigger problem is waking up in 1-2 hours and then not being able to fall asleep again for a while. The only time I can nap (sleep for a while in the day) is when I am sick, and I have to lie down to do it.

I think variance is huge. This article (The Myth of the 8-Hour Sleep) isn't about falling asleep initially, but it points to the difference in sleep patterns in the past vs. now: " ... these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep. ... During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed." Artificial light, as early as the 1700s, changed things..
posted by mmw at 12:01 PM on March 27


I generally fall asleep within 5 minutes of turning out the lights every night. I'm male, age 38.

My sleep hygiene is relatively poor - I typically stare at my phone for about an hour before bed, sometimes after caffeine with dinner. Sleeping in a very dark room with a fan blowing helps tremendously.

I do get regular exercise and my diet is otherwise relatively good, so I'm sure that helps too.

I never nap, as I typically can't fall asleep during the day and usually wake up feeling extremely groggy.
posted by Twicketface at 7:11 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


Fascinating responses, thanks to all who chimed in. It sounds like I might be in a minority(ish) but amongst a very wide range and my spouse is probably more the average. My heart goes out to those who struggle with sleepless nights. Perhaps the instasleepers and I should sign up for research to find out what makes us zzzz so quickly...
posted by stillmoving at 10:36 AM on March 30


« Older Why is gmail deleting all emails from a particular...   |   Can I make some side money spearheading an online... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments