The behavior I have chosen to work on is my sleeping behavior. I struggle to fall asleep at night. I often stay awake reading a book reading on my phone or watching anything on my phone. Most nights I fall asleep on the couch because I find it more comfortable than my bed. Which points to my main issue with my sleeping is the amount of time I spend napping. I use my days sleeping because most of the time the previous nights are used to complete tasks I was unable to do in the day. Making the whole experience a never-ending cycle that I began one day in high school. I enjoy taking nap in the day and I always sleep on the couch. So I may have conditioned myself to think the couch is the only place I can get a proper sleep. So by using classical or operant conditioning, I plan to change this behavior. Classical conditioning is a technique of learning that occurs when an unconditional stimulus is paired with a conditional stimulus. The unconditioned stimulus naturally elicits a response without training the conditional stimulus is neutral. Classical conditioning in a more detail form is based on automatic and involuntary behaviors, operant conditioning focuses on intentional behaviors. Operant conditioning focuses on strengthening or weakening voluntary behaviors, with the use of consequences.
The technique that I am going to follow is operant conditioning. Which means emitted responses that result in certain consequences; these consequences, in turn, affect the future probability or strength of those responses. The objective is to make sure that a certain behavior about myself is modified or completely changed. There are different types of reinforcements and punishment: positive reinforcement negative reinforcement positive punishment and negative punishment. I used negative reinforcement which is the removal of a stimulus following a response which then leads to an increase in the future strength of that response. For my change, I removed my phone and naps in hopes of increasing the possibility of going to sleep early.
I collected a data of my sleeping pattern for a week, they were different from night to night. At times I went to bed at midnight and others nights at 3 am. I usually went to bed by 11:50 pm the earliest and 5:25 am was the most extreme. Something that stayed consistent was I was that every morning I woke up at the same time because I had to take my brother to school at 9 am every day. I went to bed at different times each night causing my sleeping cycle to be a mess and my body to reposed as it should. Sleeping in my classes was definitely one of the bad results of not having enough sleep. Naps once in a while are rewarding but I took a nap every day that week. This caused me to be extremely tired the following day. As a result, I struggled to focus throughout the day and my school work continued to suffer. Overall the structure of my day was negatively affected by the lack of a good night; sleep. My original plan was to be in bed at 10:30 every night. I wanted to have all the things that make my night clustered done so I could get the proper hours of sleep. The next week I realized that this plan was very unrealistic because I could never be in bed on time. At first, I was going to use negative punishment, by stopping myself from taking a nap the following day if I did not get to bed on time. This punishment did not work because I could not stay awake I ended up falling asleep when I was doing my homework. So, I did not have a concrete consequence. However, I had the motivation to be in bed on time. So after a few days of this plan not working, I switched the plan to 11:30 instead. This seemed to be more realistic and I could have worked better if I started with this plan. I decided to be more focused and very detailed so, created a timetable or a plan to follow. Start working on homework at 5 pm, eat dinner before 7 pm, do my chores at around 8 pm, complete the rest of my homework by 9 pm, get into bed by 10 pm and lights out by 11:30 pm.
I originally was going to try this for about 3 weeks but since I changed my method, it became 1 and a half weeks. After changing what I was going to do halfway through, I knew this was not going to work for a long-term plan because realistically a habit cannot be changed in just 11 days. Unless I continued it for another 2 more weeks because right now I have a good foundation. Also, I do not always follow through with plans unless someone is watching and guiding my progress. So I had my sister watch the first week to make sure I follow the plan.
What I have learned in my 3 weeks of attempting behavioral modification is that it is nearly impossible to handle this type of commitment especially in a college setting. Above all, what I have learned about behavioral modification is that it is difficult and this is why we need those reinforcements ( positive or negative or fixer ratio) to help motivate ourselves. Generally speaking, I believe it could have been the time limit or that the reinforcements I used were not for me. I might use this on my family if I continue this on myself to see if it truly works.