15 November 2014

Self-Help Behavior Change Project

Self-Help Behavior Change Project

Abstract
The purpose of this project is to improve the quality of my life by altering a behavior, increasing the amount of sleep I get, and to document the attempt at behavior change recording data and emotional content. To establish a baseline for my behavior I recorded the total time slept for each twenty-four hour period. The mean time slept is 7.26 hours and the median time slept is 7.00 hours. I ranked myself in the Preparation stage of the Transtheoretical Model. After the assessment I started the intervention and followed the consciousness raising, self-liberation, self-reevaluation, and stimulus control processes of change to target different aspects of the behavior change. During intervention my perception of the behavior change seemed ineffective and I became frustrated. Employing the processes of change resulted in an increase of the mean to 7.76 hours and an increase in the median to 7.99 hours during intervention. During intervention my perception of the behavior change seemed ineffective and I became frustrated. Before the intervention I was very confident in my ability to change the behavior but I quickly lost confidence as my perceptions became negative. Despite my negative feelings toward the behavior change process itself I reported an increase in well being and satisfaction during the intervention. Behavior change is a difficult process.

Table of Contents

   1.      Introduction 
   2.      Behavior Assessment 
   3.      Transtheoretical Model Ranking 
   4.      Processes of Change
   5.      Employing the Processes of Change
   6.      Summary of Behavior Change
   7.      My Experience with Behavior Change
   8.      Figure
   9.      References

Introduction

I choose to attempt to increase the amount of sleep I currently have. Changing this deficit in behavior will hopefully enable me to lead a more functional life, promote my academic success, improve my physical health, and increase my general well being. A baseline for the current behavior was established with a mean of 7.26 hours of sleep per night. I hypothesize that the general quality of my life may improve if I increase this number by 0.50 hours.

Behavior Assessment

To establish a baseline for my sleep behavior I recorded the dates and times I entered and exited sleep per day for seven days. This included any and all sessions of sleep including naps. One day is a twenty four hour period from 00:00 to 00:00. I started recording data from 00:00 Thursday August 31, 2006. I stopped recording data at 00:00 September 7, 2006. I recorded the entry time at the last possible moment before I slept. I recorded the exit time as soon as I awoke. It is a direct method of observation subject to error because I cannot determine the exact time that I enter or exit a sleep session. Therefore the resulting quantitative data is an approximation of the total time sleeping for the given time period. This information will show which days I need to get more sleep and how much more sleep I need on those days. To reduce the potential for reactivity I only recorded the times I entered and exited a sleeping session. I did not obtain the total time slept for any given day until after September 7, 2006. I chose to graph the data using a bar graph. Time is on the horizontal axis labeled by both day of the week and the date. The quantity of sleep was labeled on the vertical axis.

Figure 1 shows the recorded values from Thursday August 31, 2006 to Wednesday September 6, 2006 were: 6.17 hours, 7.00 hours, 7.92 hours, 9.25 hours, 7.50 hours, 6.83 hours, and 6.17 hours. The minimum value was 6.17 hours. The maximum value was 9.25 hours. The mean value was 7.26 hours. The median value was 7.00 hours.

All sessions of sleep occurred at my residence in my bed alone with the exception of one. I slept at a friend’s house in that person's bed on Tuesday September 6, 2006. During the assessment I was very optimistic about my ability to change the behavior and I had strong positive feelings toward the process.

Transtheoretical Model Ranking

I rank myself in the Preparation Stage of the Transtheoretical Model. I have examined my own thoughts and beliefs about sleep behavior and I feel I recognize the important functions that sleep may have on the body such as bolstering the immune system and improving a person's alertness throughout a day. I am confident in my ability to commit myself to improving my sleep behaviors. I strongly feel that improving my sleep behavior is an important step in my physical health and in my academic development. I am intent on taking action to improve my behavior within the next two weeks. I do not believe that my sleep behavior has been sufficient for my needs during my collegiate career. I have attempted several times to improve the quantity and quality of my sleep by attempting to improve my time management skills in an effort to be able to sleep earlier in the night.

Processes of Change

The processes of change that I intend to use are consciousness raising, self-liberation, self-reevaluation, and stimulus control. Consciousness raising will introduce me to new information that can help motivate me to increase the amount of sleep I am currently getting. A better understanding of the research may encourage me to give a stronger attempt at the behavior change. There are several established techniques to help people to have more restful sleep. I plan on using several of those techniques to increase the quality and quantity of my sleep. Self-liberation is an important process of change for me to utilize. I am confident in my ability to change and I make the choice to improve my sleeping behavior. Self-reevaluation will help me throughout the behavior change process to keep my motivation and confidence high enough to continue with the change. Stimulus control may be one of the most important processes of change I can use. I can take control of different cues that currently promote my deficit in sleeping behavior. This will enable me to have a direct impact on my sleeping routine and give me a tremendous amount of control of the time I choose to go to sleep.

Employing the Processes of Change

I put into action consciousness raising by reviewing a few research articles that were related to the relationship between sleep, learning and memory. These articles suggested that sleep improves memory retention (Wagner, U., Gais, S., & Born, J. 2001); allows the brain to process information it took in during the day but could not process at the time (Stickgold, R., Hobson, J. A., Fosse, R., & Fosse, M. 2001); and an afternoon nap improves a person's daytime alertness (Hayashi, M., Watanabe, M., & Hori, T. 1999). These studies suggest that changing my behavior to gain more sleep during a 24 hour period will be beneficial for my mental performance and life satisfaction further encouraging my behavior change. I applied self-liberation each day by reaffirming my desire to increase my amount of sleep every day. I wrote the statement, "I will manage my time well today so that I can be in bed by 11", each day on a small notepad. This helped me to mentally structure my day so that I could strengthen my desire and improve my confidence for behavior change. I implemented self-reevaluation by following a bedtime routine I obtained from the National Sleep Foundation website (n.d.) that primed my body for sleep. The routine was as follows: take a warm shower an hour before bed; brush teeth; and read a book in moderately dim light for about a half hour. This procedure helped get me into the habit of mentally preparing for bed. The bedtime routine also functioned as a stimulus control.

Summary of Behavior Change

I followed the same recording procedure as the behavior assessment. I recorded data from 00:00 Sunday October 15, 2006 to 00:00 Sunday October 29, 2006. I totaled the data on Monday October 30, 2006. Figure 1 shows the recorded values: 8.53 hours, 7.98 hours, 9.57 hours, 6.92 hours, 7.83 hours, 5.83 hours, 7.25 hours, 8.50 hours, 8.00 hours, 9.33 hours, 6.50 hours, 8.00 hours, 5.42 hours, and 9.00 hours. The minimum value was 5.42 hours. The maximum value was 9.57 hours. The mean was 7.76 hours. The median was 7.99 hours. During this fourteen day period I slept at my home in my bed alone with the exception of Friday October 20 and Saturday October 21 where I slept at my brother’s house on the floor. The sleep on those two days was restless and uncomfortable. The mean value before intervention was 7.26 hours and it increased by 0.05 hours during intervention. The median value increased from 7.00 hours before intervention to 7.99 hours during intervention. Quantitatively I slept more during intervention than I did before.

The behavior assessment indicated that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I get less than seven hours of sleep. During the intervention I received less than seven hours of sleep on each Wednesday and Friday. This is due to my early morning work schedule on those days. On those four days I felt sleepy and very sluggish. On most days during intervention my feelings and general mood were slightly improved than before intervention. I felt slightly more alert during most of the days.

I rank myself in the Action stage because I am implementing the practices needed for lasting change. The practices, following a daily routine to reaffirm my desire to change and prepare my body for sleep, are specific and overt and indicate my placement in the Action stage.

My Experience with Behavior Change

The period before intervention was the most enjoyable and inspiring aspect of my behavior change because it provided me with positive encouragement to change my behavior. My feelings of optimism quickly turned to frustration because I found it to be an inconvenient hassle to take nearly an hour to prepare for bed. This was especially the case on the days that I started preparing for bed after 12am. On the days that I managed to sleep early I felt more rushed in the time leading up to my self-appointed deadline than I did before intervention. During intervention I also spent more time napping than I did before. These naps were crucial for me to increase the sleep in my day because during the intervention I did not feel as if I was getting anymore sleep.

I learned that health behavior change is difficult and I have a better understanding of the struggle that others may go through with their respective behavior changes. I expected that a small lifestyle change like following a bedtime routine would be easy for me. I did not expect my attitude toward the behavior change to turn negative. I learned that my perceptions of the behavior change were inaccurate during intervention. I thought that I may have been sleeping less than before the intervention because on some nights I got to bed very late following the routine. This taught me that it is important to record my progress so that I can refer to my successes later. The intervention did work. I was able to increase the average time slept by a half hour and the median time slept by an hour. My general mood did improve during the intervention despite my feelings of negativity and perceived failure. I credit my success of my behavior change during intervention to my reaffirmation for change each day during that time. To improve this intervention I would shorten the bedtime routine so that I could get to bed quicker. If I were to do that I may be able to get to sleep earlier and that may increase my time slept even more.

Figure 1


Figure 1. Graph showing the total hours slept before the intervention and during the intervention for any given day of the week during the behavior change project.

References

Hayashi, M., Watanabe, M., & Hori, T. (1999). The effects of a 20 min nap in the mid-afternoon on mood, performance and EEG activity. Clinical Neurophysiology, 110, 272-279

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.) Healthy Sleep Tips. Retrieved October 9, 2006 from <http://www.sleepfoundation.org/hottopics/index.php?secid=9&id=31>

Stickgold, R., Hobson, J. A., Fosse, R., & Fosse, M. (2001). Sleep, Learning, and Dreams: Off-line Memory Reprocessing. Science, 294, 1052-1058

Wagner, U., Gais, S., & Born, J. (2001). Emotional Memory Formation is Enhanced across Sleep Intervals with High Amounts of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. Learning & Memory, 8, 112-119

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