The amount of time it takes you to fall asleep is called your sleep onset latency time. The sleepier you are, the shorter your sleep latency will be. People with sleep disorders such as apnea, narcolepsy and periodic leg movements often have very short sleep latencies.

For a rough measure of your own sleep latency time:

  1. Lie down in comfortable pajamas in a dark, silent room
  2. Hold a metal spoon between your fingers and let your hand rest just over the edge of your bed so that the spoon is directly above a metal object like a pan lid.
  3. Note the time, then close your eyes and relax, allowing yourself to drift off to sleep.
As you fall asleep, the muscles in your hand will relax, thus letting the spoon fall onto the floor. The noise should wake you up, at which point you take note of how long it took to fall asleep.

If it takes less than an average of five minutes for you to doze off, you are severely sleep deprived; an average of five to ten minutes means you have a sizeable sleep debt; an average of ten to 15 minutes indicates a manageable sleep load, and an average of 15-20 minutes represents excellent alertness.

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