Behavior Modification Project Essay
Behavior Modification Project
Identify Target Behavior: Get a Healthier Amount of Sleep/Stop Napping Daily I chose to modify my sleeping behavior for my behavior modification project. Sleep is something that I have always had a problem with. In high school I would get an average of about 5 hours of sleep a night, and now as a junior in college I get about 5-6 hours a night. I wanted to modify this behavior because I feel that not getting enough sleep is negatively affecting my mood, health, and overall outlook on my every day experience. It would be beneficial to me to be more awake and happy throughout my days rather than be tired and pushing myself to stay awake. My main issue with my sleeping behavior is the amount of time I spend per day napping. If my nightly sleeping patterns were increased, I could eliminate the need for naps during the day.
Baseline Data: 4.5-5.5 Hours of Sleep per Night At the beginning of the term I observed my sleeping patterns for a week. Since I have a different schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays than I do on Tuesdays and Thursdays I found that I do get slightly more sleep on some nights than I do on others. I did not include weekend sleep times in my data. On Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights I would go to bed between 11:30 and midnight. I would then wake up at 5:30 am the following mornings. Therefore 3 nights of the week I was getting around 5.5/6 hours of sleep.
On Monday and Wednesday nights I would go to bed somewhere in that same time frame of 11:30 to midnight. However on the following mornings I needed to be awake an hour earlier, so I would wake up at 4:30 am. On these nights I was getting about 4.5/5 hours of sleep. I noted that on Tuesdays and Thursdays I was more likely to get home from work and fall asleep around 4 pm for about 3 hours each of those days. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I would nap for about an hour and a half around 3 pm. I observed that during the times that I would come home and nap, I could have been doing something more valuable with my time if my body had the energy to keep going rather than take a few hours to rest itself.
Stimulus Conditions: School, Homework, and Distractions I live at home and commute to school, so the main stimulus condition was the distractions that are available to me such as TV and internet. I have slept with my TV on for as long as I have had it. Usually I will turn on a show or a movie and fall asleep half way through watching it. This is the main problem for me because once I start I have an extremely difficult time stopping myself. My brain is still concentrating on the website I was on or what I was watching as I am trying to fall asleep.
Another condition is school. Since I do commute, I have to be up a lot earlier than I would if I were living on campus. I work a lot of days after I get out of class so I have to have my hair and makeup done and can’t go to class looking the way I did when I woke up. I realize that I could not change my wakeup time for this project because that is the amount of time that I need to get ready and drive to school. Another condition is my homework. I usually study and work on homework after dinner which is around 7 pm so homework doesn’t usually affect my sleep that much unless I have a lot of work or studying to do.
Set Goals: Every Week Sleep 30 Minutes More per Night At first my goal was to increase the amount of sleep I got by 10 minutes every day. I attempted that the first week and found it to be extremely difficult because the times were so close together that it was almost impossible to make myself fall asleep at that exact time. I also was thinking about it too much and thinking about it made it even more difficult to fall asleep. I decided to switch my goal by going to bed a half hour earlier than I did the week before. That way with a starting point of 5.5 hours, by week 5 I would be getting 8 hours of sleep.
The national sleep foundation states on their website that 7-9 hours is the recommended amount of sleep for the average person over the age of 17. Therefore I took the median of that to use as my final goal. Since the main problem that I had was the distractions such as TV and Internet, I made it a rule that I needed to close my laptop and turn off my TV at the specific sleep time goal for that week. I found that with my TV off I was able to fall asleep almost immediately after laying down. I recorded the amount of sleep that I got every night, though it is not exact I did fall asleep almost immediately after the start times so it is only off by a few minutes at most. Sleep Time
Week 1 – 11:30
Week 2 – 11:00
Week 3 – 10:30
Week 4 – 10:00
Week 5 – 9:30
*Since Week 1 was unsuccessful in going to sleep around that specific goal time I changed my project by pushing my sleep goals back 30 minutes for the remaining 4 weeks. *Altered Sleep Time Goals
Week 1 – 11:30 (Already Passed)
Week 2 – 11:30
Week 3 – 11:00
Week 4 – 10:30
Week 5 – 10:00
Actual Sleep Times
Monday: 11:55 pm-5:30 am – 5 hours 35 minutes (5.58 hours) Tuesday: 11:45 pm-4:30 am – 4 hours and 45 minutes (4.75 hours) Wednesday: 12:00 pm-5:30 am – 5 hours and 30 minutes (5.5 hours) Thursday: 11:50 pm-4:30 am – 4 hours and 40 minutes (4.66 hours) Friday: 11:45 pm-5:30 am – 5 hours and 45 minutes (5.75 hours)
Monday: 11:20-5:30 – 6 hours and 10 minutes (6.17 hours)
Tuesday: 11:15-4:30 am – 5 hours and 15 minutes (5.25 hours) Wednesday: 11:25-5:30 am – 6 hours and 5 minutes (6.08 hours) Thursday: 11:20-4:30 am – 5 hours and 10 minutes (5.17 hours) Friday: 11:15-5:30 am – 6 hours 15 minutes (6.25 hours)
Monday: 10:50 pm-5:30 am – 6 hours and 40 minutes (6.66 hours) Tuesday: 10:55 pm-4:30 am – 5 hours and 35 minutes (5.58 hours) Wednesday: 10:45 pm-5:30 am – 6 hours and 45 minutes (6.75 hours) Thursday: 10:50 pm-4:30 am – 5 hours and 40 minutes (5.66 hours) Friday: 10:50 pm-5:30 am – 6 hours and 40 minutes (6.66 hours) WEEK 4
Monday: 10:25 pm-5:30 am – 7 hours and 5 minutes (7.08 hours) Tuesday: 10:30 pm-4:30 am – 6 hours (6.0 hours) Wednesday: 10:35 pm-5:30 am – 6 hours and 55 minutes (5.92 hours) Thursday: 10:20 pm-4:30 am – 6 hours and 10 minutes (6.17 hours) Friday: 10:20 pm-5:30 am – 7 hours and 10 minutes (7.17 hours) WEEK 5
Monday: 10:00 pm-5:30 am – 7 hours and 30 minutes (7.5 hours) Tuesday: 10:05 pm-4:30 am – 6 hours and 25 minutes (6.42 hours) Wednesday: 10:00 pm-5:30 am – 7 hours and 30 minutes (7.5 hours) Thursday: 9:55 pm-4:30 am – 6 hours and 35 minutes (6.58 hours) Friday: 10:00 pm-5:30 am – 7 hours and 30 minutes (7.5 hours)
Below I have included the graphs that I made weekly with the data I collected over the course of that week. The actual amount of sleep I got, my goal amount of sleep for that week, and the National Sleep Foundation recommended amount of sleep are all included.
I found that these graphs are excellent for displaying how much closer I got to my sleep goal every week. I was very pleased with the results as I did not expect the project to go so smoothly. Since I live with them, I had asked my mother and my sister to look for any changes in my behavior during this time. Both of them agreed that around week 3 I was more fun to talk to because I wasn’t being so negative in our conversations.
My mother enjoyed the fact that I was more willing to go out and run errands with her when I got home rather than go in my room and pass out. By week 5 both of them had said that they noticed I seemed to be getting through my days without as much complaining. Overall I also didn’t notice any changes myself until about week 3. Weeks 3-5 made a big difference because I no longer felt that I “needed” to take a nap and since I felt that I had more time to do things that I wanted I had a much more positive outlook on my day as a whole.
Encourage/Remove Stimulus Conditions: Time Management and Eliminate Distractions Since my main stimulus condition was the distractions that I had, the most important thing for me to do was to set a rule for myself to always turn off my TV and laptop before the goal sleep time of that night. I have always thought that I needed the background noise of my TV to sleep, and I was very surprised to found that I did not have a single problem with the TV being off. The only issue I had with this alteration was the fact that I didn’t create this rule until after week 1. For the first week of my project I continued to go to bed with the TV on, and even though I was technically in bed at my goal sleep time I was not falling asleep until approximately a half hour after laying down.
Once I made this change and altered my sleep time goals the project went a lot more smoothly. Since I could not change the time that I woke up in the morning, I knew I needed to work on time management with my homework so that I could have at least a little free time before I made myself shut off my electronics. I stopped taking so many breaks during the time that I was working on homework and I just used a solid block of time to finish everything I had to do. It was a lot easier for me to get done faster when I wasn’t losing focus on other things all of the time. I was happy with the decision I made to turn off my TV and laptop at the time I planned to go to bed every night.
I believe that that factor made all the difference in the direction that my project went. I feel that there would have been more obstacles and challenges if I had not created that rule for myself. Modifying these two conditions helped me be able to fall asleep faster and also enjoy falling asleep much more than I had before. Punishers & Reinforcers: Activities During the Time that was used for Naps I at first contemplated the punishments that I could use for not going to sleep at my goal time.
The first week of my project I was still not going to sleep around my goal time and I was continuing to sleep at the times I had been sleeping before. I realized that since I used this time to watch movies, I could instead turn it into a reward by watching movies during the time in which I usually napped. Therefore when I returned home around 4 pm, rather than napping for 3 hours I could use that time for “free time” watching movies and going on the internet so that I could get my fix during that time instead of getting my fix right before I went to bed. If I went to bed earlier, I would not need the naps.
It was almost like a cycle that just needed to be adjusted. I stopped needing naps around week 3 when I was getting roughly 6 and a half hours of sleep. It was a nice feeling to look forward to coming home and having free time rather than coming home and wasting a few hours of my day to feel refreshed. The fact that I had something to look forward to was a good reinforcement. I didn’t feel that I needed many more rewards because being on a normal schedule and not losing as many hours of my day was a reward enough for me. I enjoy having more free time as opposed to having nap time. In a way I was using positive and negative reinforcement because I was taking away my time on the internet and watching movies late at night, but rewarding myself by using my time during the day for those activities which I got from going to sleep earlier. Design Schedules of consequence and Administer Schedules:
I am going to modify my sleep patterns in order to get an increasingly healthier amount of sleep per night. This will aid in the elimination of daily naps. I am going to sleep 30 minutes earlier every week until I am getting 8 hours of sleep a night. My reward will be having more free time to relax and do what I want after a long day rather than wasting those few hours by sleeping. The free time will be my motivator since I already wish I had more time during the day to do things that I want to do. The Results:
Creating this program was somewhat of a challenge because the main problem was my bad sleeping habits. I learned a lot about myself as a result of doing this project, and the most that I learned was near the end when I was organizing all of my data. Though week 1 did not go as planned, I was very proud of myself for actually following through with my goal sleep times for the remainder of the project and I can clearly see the benefits I have gained from the changes that I made. Even though my main goal was to work on the amount of naps that I would take, I noticed many more benefits along the way. I found it easier for me to pay attention in class, and my note taking skills have also improved. My need for coffee in the morning has gone down and I actually drink more water in place which is a much healthier alternative.
I also find it much easier to drive to school. I also am in a much better mood in the mornings that I was before. I found the most difficulty in this project during week 1. I believe this is because I had not yet made the adjustment to turn my electronics off. After making that change in my project everything seemed to work out much better and I never really went off track again. I feel that I am more productive and I now also have more time during the day to relax and enjoy myself. I felt that I made a good choice in choosing this specific behavior to modify because it has really improved more than one area of my daily life. I really have learned what a difference a healthy amount of sleep can do for you and I will continue to try and stay with the amount I have worked to getting right now.