Falling asleep quickly at night could be a bad sign

Falling asleep quickly at night could be a bad sign
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If you fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow, it might a sign of ill health.

Experts have discussed the implications of falling asleep too quickly, or too slowly, and it might be revealing more about our lifestyles than we previously thought.

The technical term for the amount of time it takes to drift off at night is “sleep latency”, and it tells us an awful lot about our health.

Kristen Casey, a licensed clinical psychologist and insomnia specialist, told HuffPost: “The ideal amount of time for the body to fall asleep truly varies from person to person.

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“The National Sleep Foundation suggests that it should take about 15 to 20 minutes for a healthy person. However, people are complex, so we may have more issues that stop us from falling asleep soundly that are likely out of our control.”


That might change for people with health conditions, though, with Casey giving a rough guideline of 30 or 40 minutes for them.

While falling asleep very quickly isn’t necessarily always cause for concern, it could be an indicator or wider issues.

Neuroscientist Dr. Dave Rabin, the co-founder and chief innovation officer at Apollo Neuroscience, said: “Falling asleep too quickly can be a sign of exhaustion, a sign that we are overworking ourselves, a sign of burnout, and generally a sign that we’re not spending enough time recovering and resting.”

Even then, if you are sleeping enough, the quality of the sleep could be the issue. Rest that’s not deep enough to refresh, known as “junk sleep”, could also be part of the problem.

How can people improve their sleeping conditions? Dr Rabin explains: “It’s good to spend the half hour before bed winding ourselves down while we’re awake and do a kind of night bedtime routine… [falling asleep] within a half hour is a good goal.”

If you are suffering from poor sleep, Casey says seeking medical advice from a doctor is advised.

“We choose a treatment that will be clinically indicated based on the origin of sleep latency issues. For example, if someone is falling asleep too quickly because they are exercising too much and working 12-hour days, it’s likely they have a very high sleep drive. ‘Sleep drive’ is the body’s biological need for sleep.”

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