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How long should it take to fall asleep?

Updated: Jan 3

Original Article By: Fox TV Digital Team

Summarized By: Neurobit

Surveys from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 40% of American adults get less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep per night as advised by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the National Sleep Foundation. Another study done in 2018 by the National Institutes for Health estimated that between 50 million and 70 million people in the US do not get enough sleep. Factors that can impact how long and well a person sleeps are the activities they do before bed and how long it takes them to fall asleep.

The amount of time it takes for a person to fall asleep can vary, but most people without sleep difficulties can fall asleep within 10 to 20 minutes, according to Cleveland Clinic sleep specialist Michelle Drerup. Factors that can affect the quality of sleep include diet and exercise, as well as the ability to quiet the mind. American adults currently average 6.9 hours of sleep per night, which is less than the 7.9 hours per night they got in the 1940s. Children also face challenges when it comes to sleep, as they have a higher sleep need than adults. Even one hour of sleep deprivation can negatively impact a child's developing brain and lead to inattentiveness in the classroom.

Sleep deprivation can also affect various biological systems. An enhanced sympathetic nervous system can occur and cause arousal, also known as the "fight or flight" response. Consistent arousal like this can lead to an increased risk of coronary heart disease due to an increase in blood pressure. The endocrine system also releases more cortisol, a stress hormone, and the body has less glucose tolerance and greater insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the long term. Additionally, sleep deprivation reduces the release of growth hormone and impairs muscle maintenance.

Sleep is also necessary for maintaining metabolism. Lack of sleep can lead to a decrease in the release of the hormone leptin and an increase in the release of the hormone ghrelin, which can be associated with increased appetite and weight gain.

Sleep is important for supporting the immune system as well. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased inflammation and decreased resistance to infection, as well as a reduction in the production of antibodies to influenza. Inadequate sleep can also negatively affect mood, attention, and memory and decrease pain tolerance and reaction times. Furthermore, memory consolidation and learning are impacted by a lack of sleep.

The sleep-wake cycle is regulated by the circadian system. When it is dark, the brain releases the hormone melatonin which tells the body to go to sleep. The body's system for regulating melatonin and the sleep schedule is most strongly controlled by light, specifically blue light waves from the blue spectrum. This type of light is prevalent in electronic lights from computers and smartphones and can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle, as many people use their electric devices before bed. This can have an impact on how late they and long it takes them to fall asleep, due to disruptions in their circadian rhythm.

As mentioned, lack of sleep has also been linked to numerous health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and depression. Healthy habits such as exercising and eating nutrient-dense foods can help improve sleep quality and how fast an individual falls asleep. Furthermore, limiting the use of technology before bed can help individuals fall asleep faster and improve their sleep.


Fox TV Digital Team. (2022, December 22). This is how long it should take to fall asleep. FOX6 News Milwaukee. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from

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