Falling Asleep Too Fast? Learn Why This Could Be Sign of a Sleep Disorder

Falling Asleep Too Fast? Learn Why This Could Be Sign of a Sleep Disorder

Today sleep disorders have become a serious concern. According to a survey conducted by The Nielsen on 5,600 persons across 25 cities of India, more than 93 percent of Indians suffer from sleep deprivation. Out of this, 11 percent fall asleep during daytime at office or workplace while 87 percent of the respondents agree that lack of sleep is taking a toll on their life or overall health.

On the other hand, some people consider themselves as a perfect sleeper as they drift off quickly within minutes and sleep deeply. This could be a warning sign of sleep disorder. These people could take a nap at any time anywhere. It seems to be odd but it’s a sign of sleep deprivation that needs to be addressed seriously.

Why sleepiness occurs?

First, we must have a brief overview on how we become sleepy. We become sleepy when a chemical in the brain known as adenosine accumulates due to energy use and metabolism. 

The longer we stay awake, the more this chemical accumulates. When we awake, this chemical is cleared away through glymphatic system and we feel refreshed in the morning.

Staying awake for longer times raises adenosine levels which gives birth to homeostatic sleep drive or referred to as sleep load or sleep debt. For instance, if we stay awake for straight 24 hours or 30 hours, at that time we would feel extremely sleepy and when we fall asleep, we would be sleeping for a longer time as compared to our normal sleeping time. This is just to clear the ‘sleep debt’ we owned for past so many hours.

This also makes you sleep quickly as compared to the normal time you take to sleep at night.

Am I sleeping too fast?

The time we take to fall asleep is sometimes difficult to judge. The only way is through measuring the electrical activity of the brain via electroencephalogram (EEG) which is a part of sleep study polysomnogram. Generally, a normal average person would fall asleep in 5 to 15 minutes. If somebody takes longer than 20-30 minutes, it could be a sign of insomnia.

On the other hand, if sleep onset is within 5 minutes, this could be a pathological level of sleepiness. Such person falling asleep too fast indicates that he is suffering from sleep deprivation.

Are there any causes of excessive sleepiness?

  • The most common cause is sleep deprivation.
  • Poor quality of sleep also known as sleep apnea in which a person awakes multiple times during the night.
  • Other possible cause is narcolepsy, a disorder characterized by sudden and uncontrollable episodes of deep sleep.

Are there any treatments?

Extending bedtime may be all it takes to ease your sleep debt and let you fall asleep a little more slowly. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available that can restore sleep quality. 

If you are having any sleep disorders, you may want to contact a sleep specialist that will guide you through rest of the process.