The answer is almost always, no, and it's no it's not your phone's fault.
With all the stresses during the day and distractions in our bedrooms at night, it's no wonder that the average adult only gets 5.5 hours of sleep a night, according to a survey done in 2019*, and that's down from 6 hours and 17 minutes a night in 2018.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, adults are recommended to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep to maintain healthy functioning. Here are 5 steps to getting the most effective shut-eye.
#1 - Track your sleep
You could use an Apple Watch, FitBit, or other fitness tracker to keep tabs on your sleeping time. These will be able to sense when you periodically wake during the night and give you a more accurate count of the hours you've been asleep. Of course a clock will do also for a rough estimate. Just remember, we all wake up during the night and often have no recollection of it.
#2 - Start a Sleep Journal
Record your sleeping habits in a journal so you'll be able to make changes to your night time ritual as needed. Although an often overlooked step, a sleep journal is essential if you are serious about maximizing this crucial period. In addition sleep/wake times, include all factors that could affect your sleep, including mood, physical & mental condition, and external factors. It also helps to write down any worries or anxious thoughts you may have.
"Sleep journaling can be beneficial to your mental health by allowing you to process your racing thoughts in a healthy and productive way. This is a key step to ensuring you get a good night’s sleep." – Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D
#3 - Make a To-Do List
A 2018 study by Baylor University required fifty-seven healthy students to do one of the following each night five minutes before bed: Create a to-do list for the following few days, or compile a list of tasks that they have completed each day. Participants who created a to-do list each evening actually fell asleep significantly faster than those who noted their completed tasks.
In addition to that, the more thorough participants were in creating their to-do lists, the more quickly they fell asleep each night. While the findings are encouraging so far, a larger study with a wider variety of participants would be beneficial for finding additional information.**
#4 - Embrace the Hypnagogia
As your mind releases its conscious hold, a transition to sleep occurs in which you experience hallucinations, lucid dreams, and sleep paralysis. This state is called hypnagogia, and is a natural part of falling asleep that many aren't aware of. We may consider a part of the dreaming state, however, many famous creators have actually used the synergistic state between wakefulness and dreaming to give their ideas a subconscious boost. Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Salvator Dali all used to hold a steel ball in their dangling hand as they fell asleep. The sound of the ball striking the floor with the onset of hypnagogia and the ensuing sleep paralysis would immediately wake them. They'd then jot down any thoughts or ideas before the light of consciousness evaporated them.
For me, this state usually begins with a faint moving geometric pattern in the middle of the mind's eye. When I see this, I try to relax as completely as possible. Then I focus my attention on the center of the pattern, and it seems to grow larger and closer. The sensation is like entering a tunnel, and sometime shortly, I emerge in Wonderland, where I am able to see in my mind's eye with perfect clarity.
#5 - If All Else Fails, Try This Ancient Trick
Racing thoughts? Can't seem to quiet your mind? There's an ancient trick that was used by the Greeks and Romans and other ancient cultures. Known as Astral Projection, in which your consciousness travels to another place and/or time, we will refer to it simply as a visualization exercise. The goal is to occupy the brain with a waking dream so interesting and engrossing that we forget about our physical sensations. As you progress further into visualizing the dream, you will suddenly be aware that you are not consciously generating the thoughts, but rather they are coming from somewhere else. This is your subconscious participating, and your cue that lucid dreaming is activated. From here you may choose your own path, lucid or otherwise.
Sleep Can Be More Than Sleep
By using the tips above, you will not only have better quality and longer hours of sleep, but you will generate a control over your mind that will enhance all aspects of your life. Between rest, hypnagogia, lucid thoughts, and waking/sleeping dreams, your mind will have much to do as your body recharges.