The time it takes us to drop off to sleep at night has been identified by a new study as a key indicator of our ‘sleep health’.
The study found that how quickly we think we fall asleep, or ‘sleep latency’, is a very good indicator of our overall sleep health followed by how long it actually took to get off to sleep.
The Healthy Sleep Project, commissioned by The Sleep Council, was carried out by Professor Jason Ellis of Northumbria University, Newcastle’s Department of Psychology.
The study – just published in volume 2018:10 edition of the Nature of Science and Sleep journal – focused on people with no existing sleep disorders, health or psychological problems.
Said Professor Ellis: “Previous studies have concentrated on those with sleep disorders, but we wanted to study ‘healthy’ individuals to see what influences them.
“What we found was a huge variety in terms of how well people who define themselves as good sleepers actually sleep. Some of the study group were doing exceptionally well – looking after their sleep with good routines. Others were sacrificing sleep, possibly due to the demands of their lives.
“In a nutshell, the biggest indicator of good sleep health was how long an individual perceives it takes them to fall asleep.”
The research shows that those who think they fall asleep within 10 to 15 minutes of their head touching the pillow are more likely to have good sleep health. Longer than 15 minutes and sleep health may be under pressure.