(CNN)Is falling asleep when your head hits the pillow what you're dreaming of? A fast fall into the land of nod may seem like nirvana, but it's not a sign of a healthy sleeper.

(美国有线电视新闻网,Cable News Network,简称CNN)你是否梦想着头一沾到枕头就睡着?快速进入梦乡似乎是一种享受,但是这并不是一个健康睡眠者的标志。

"The well-rested person does not fall asleep immediately," said sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in the division of sleep medicine for Harvard Medical School.

“休息良好的人不会立即入睡,”睡眠专家,哈佛医学院(Harvard Medical School.)睡眠医学部的讲师丽贝卡·罗宾斯(Rebecca Robbins)表示。

"Falling asleep does take about 15 minutes for the healthy sleeper," Robbins added. "Falling asleep is distinct from sleep itself, which can be frustrating when one is extremely tired.


"Nevertheless, be patient that sleep will come and the more you stress about not being asleep, the lower your chances of falling asleep," she said.


Don't conk out, drift away


Dozing off too quickly could be a sign that you are seriously sleep deprived, which can harm your physical and mental health.


Robbins, who coauthored the book "Sleep for Success!," equates it to having been deprived of food. "If you are starved for food, you will devour your next meal immediately, whereas a well-nourished person might not be as ravenous and in dire need of nutrition immediately," she said.

罗宾斯与他人合著了《Sleep for Success!》一书,她将缺乏睡眠等同于被剥夺了食物。“一个营养良好的人并不会像一个极度饥饿和急需营养的人那样直接狼吞虎咽地吃掉下一餐。”她说。

Adults need to sleep at least seven hours a night, while school-age kids need nine to 12 hours and teens need eight to 10 hours each night, according to the US Centers on Disease Control and Prevention.

根据美国疾病控制和预防中心(US Centers on Disease Control and Prevention)称,成年人每晚至少需要睡7个小时,学龄儿童每晚需要9到12个小时,青少年每晚则需要10个小时。

What if you do sleep an adequate number of hours each night? Then falling asleep too quickly, as well as being tired during the day, could be a sign that the quality of your sleep is suffering.


"A lack of quality sleep occurs when there are multiple awakenings and arousal during the night," said Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, who specializes in sleep.

“当夜晚有多次觉醒或者刺激,睡眠质量就会下降,” 南加州大学凯克医学院(Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California)临床医学助理教授、睡眠专家拉吉·达斯古普塔(Raj Dasgupta)博士说道。

"Those awakenings affect your ability to get to the deeper stages of sleep, such as slow wave sleep, also known as delta sleep, or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which are both essential if you want to function well and be alx," Dasgupta said.

“这些觉醒会影响你进入更深一层睡眠的能力,比如慢波睡眠(也被称为德尔塔睡眠)或者快速眼动(rapid eye movement,简称REM)睡眠,如果你想保持良好的身体机能和警觉,这两种睡眠都是至关重要的”
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During the REM stage of sleep, we dream -- and information and experiences are consolidated and stored in memory. In addition to impacting cognitive functioning, a recent study found spending less time in REM sleep is lixed to a greater overall risk of death from any cause.


Slow wave or delta sleep is when the brain both rests and gets rid of toxins -- a form of housekeeping that allows the body to heal and rejuvenate.

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"The most important thing that you can do to increase your amount of deep sleep is to allow yourself adequate total sleep time," according to the American Sleep Association.

据美国睡眠协会(American Sleep Association)称,“为了增加深度睡眠量,你可以做的最重要的事情是给你自己充足的睡眠时间。”

One of the most common culprits that might interrupt your sleep during the night -- sometimes without you even knowing it -- is obstructive sleep apnea, where you snore, choke, gasp or stop breathing periodically during the night. Some 25 million Americans suffer from this form of sleep apnea, said the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project.

阻塞性睡眠呼吸暂停(obstructive sleep apnea)是最常见的夜间睡眠中断的原因之一,有时你甚至不知道。阻塞性睡眠呼吸暂停是指你在夜间周期性地打鼾、窒息、喘息或停止呼吸。国家健康睡眠觉知计划(National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project)称,大约2500万美国人患有这种形式的睡眠呼吸暂停。

Restless legs syndrome, a condition in which you (or your partner's) legs twitch or shake during the night can also impact sleep quality. So can chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), to name a few. Medications can also impact sleep, as can various mental health disorders, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

不安腿综合征(Restless legs syndrome),一种你(或者你的伴侣)在夜间双腿额抽搐或者颤抖的情况,也会影响睡眠质量。慢性疼痛、糖尿病、心脏病、哮喘和胃食管反流病(gastroesophageal reflux disease,简称GERD)也是如此。克利夫兰医学中心(Cleveland Clinic,世界最著名的医学机构之一)称,药物和各种心理健康障碍都会影响睡眠。

"The take home message is that if you're not getting quality sleep, that means its time to see a sleep specialist to see what's going on," Dasgupta said.


How to fall asleep faster


Now that your expectations are realistic -- it's not healthy to go out like a light, and you shouldn't worry if you need 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep -- what about those nights when sleep is overly elusive?


Get up! "If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and go into another room where there is dim light, and do something calming until you feel drowsy again. The same applies when you wake in the night and can't fall back asleep," Dasgupta advises.


Robbins agrees: "Promise to never toss and turn -- commit to leaving your bed if, for whatever reason, you toss and turn at night and experience difficulty falling asleep."


Some people believe that it's just as refreshing to your body to lie in bed with eyes closed but not sleeping. That's just a pipe dream, Robbins said: "If we stay in bed, we'll start to associate the bed with insomnia."


Keep the bed sacred. Keeping your brain from seeing the bedroom as anything other than a place to sleep and have sex is how you train it to fall asleep when your head hits the pillow, Dasgupta said.


"You're much more likely to drift off quickly if your brain knows exactly what to expect when you enter the bedroom," he said.


That means don't work or watch television in bed, and don't make calls or check your cellphone. Blue lights from electronic devices tell our brains to wake up, not sleep.

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Build a nest. Keep training your brain to expect sleep by nurturing the sleep process. Keep the room cool and dark. Science tells us that we sleep better in cooler temperatures of about 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius).


Ready a routine. Brush your teeth, take a relaxing warm bath or shower and then spend some time in dim light reading a book or listening to soothing music. You can try yoga or light stretches, but nothing that will rev you up. You're teaching your brain to wind down.


Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends or your days off, the CDC advises. Before long, it will become an entrenched habit.

美国疾病管制与预防中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,简称CDC)建议,每天固定时间睡觉和起床,即使在周末或者放假也严格执行。不久,这将成为一种根深蒂固的习惯。

Calm your whirling mind. For many people, this is the hardest part of falling asleep. In today's frantic world packed with stress and anxiety, it can be hard to stop fretting over what you didn't do or what you need to do next.


Practicing meditation is one evidence-based way to improve your ability to fall asleep, Robbins said.
"Meditation is the act of allowing thoughts to pass without devoting conscious attention to them," she said. "This skill, when practiced over time, can translate to our ability to fall asleep when we adopt a meditative mindset."


Keep a "worry list" by your bedside. Another way to calm your mind is to keep a stack of notecards by your bedside and use them to document your worries.


"Start a ritual of writing down anything on your mind before bed," Robbins said. "No matter how stressful, small, large, put it down onto one of the notecards. Tell yourself there is nothing you can do about those tasks at night, leave them for the morning."


Breathe deeply. "Deep long breaths matched with a mantra like 'let go' or 'I am at peace' can help you calm a busy mind and slip off into sleep," Robbins said.


There are a variety of deep-breathing techniques experts recommend, but "the best research is behind six in, six out," stress management expert Dr. Cynthia Ackrill told CNN in a prior interview.

压力管理专家辛西娅·阿克里尔(Cynthia Ackrill)博士在之前的一次采访中告诉CNN,专家们推荐了各种各样的深呼吸技术,但是“最好的研究是六吸六呼”。

Take a deep breath to a slow count of six, making sure that you can feel your stomach rise with your hand as it fills with air, explained Ackrill, an editor for Contentment magazine, which is produced by the American Institute of Stress.

阿克里尔,美国压力研究所(American Institute of Stress)制作的《Contentment》杂志的一位编辑。他解释道,深吸一口气,慢慢数到六,确保你能感觉到你的胃在充满空气的时候随着你的手上升。

"You want to use what is called soft belly breathing," she said. "To soften your belly, let the diaphragm descend, push out on your belly a little bit and bring the breath down into that part."


Release your breath to the same slow count of six. Pause and begin again. Repeat until you feel your body relax, Ackrill added.


Don't stop dreaming. Keep up these habits and before long your brain will automatically know that pillow equals sleep. Then maybe that dream of falling asleep more quickly will come true after all -- the healthy way.