why does it take time to fall asleep and we can’t force it consciously?



Other brain activities like focusing, reading, remembering and so on, can be triggered actively whenever we want, but we can’t decide when we fall asleep. Besides some specific conditions must be fulfilled, like being tired, in a relaxing position, appropriate light…

In: Biology

Maybe because sleep is not the same type of brain activity. Quite the opposite, sleep is a major change in brain activity.

We are evolved animals but still animals. A lot of those conditions are evolutionary adaptation for survival.

On the other hand there are techniques and routines that help people fall asleep faster. A common problem is a tendency to engage in thoughts and worries. That’s a bad habit that can be trained out.

To fall asleep your mind needs to be fatigued, the neurotransmitters in your brain should have been depleted and there should be no or minimal external stimulus like a quiet place and dim or no lights. This is because our brains have something called the Reticular Activating System. This is a network of fibers that sends information to the brain and different parts of the brain get stimulated in return. The brain can be stimulated by stimuli like light, sound, pain, heat, cold, anxiety, excitement; none of which let us sleep since it fires the brain. So if you work out and tire yourself or meditate, which calms you down, (controls the firing of the brain) you could sleep at will. There are plenty of things that can be done to help one go to sleep by calming down the brain or tiring it.


Electromagnetic signals have a huge impact on your ability to fall asleep as well. For a long time, I have had issues to fall asleep. After talking to my doctor, I removed all electronics out of the bed room (yes, all of them: TV, cells phones, tablets, radios, etc.). I even went with the good old mechanical alarm clock. After a couple of days, I noticed that I was able to fall asleep within 5 minutes, which would usually take me 1 hour. A lot of environmental influences can impact our ability to fall asleep.

I would like to point out that you do not have to be tired to sleep. In fact, with training, you can sleep as much as you want, whenever you want, as quick as you want.

Some branches of military even train their soldiers to sleep under just about any circumstances, quickly.

You basically need to turn your brain off. Sleep is kind of like the opposite of conscious thought. We tend to think of being tired as required for sleep because we usually sleep when we are tired but this is because it is easier to fall asleep while tired since being tired causes your brain to be less active.

You can read more [here](https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/fall-asleep-fast#10-secs-to-sleep).

Edit: I learned about this when I was suffering from extreme depression and anxiety due to a bad divorce. Meditation is a great tool to help with falling asleep faster.