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Wake Up to a Back-to-School Sleep Challenge

behavioral science gamification motivation Aug 14, 2019

by Monica Cornetti
CEO, Sententia Gamification

Favorite memories of summer?  Top of the list for me was a not-so-strict-bedtime schedule. We’d ride our bikes till dusk, play kick-the-can in the backyard with only the back-porch light and the moon to guide our way, home-made Kool-Aid popsicles, and empty sauce jars to catch fireflies. Some of best summer activities were those done at night!

And all too quickly, we began the 2-week countdown till back-to-school, and an 8:30 p.m. bedtime.

Life repeats itself this week as my youngest son texts me in an almost panic writing, “I’ve got to get Giuseppe on a sleep schedule – he starts kindergarten next week!” So with a quick internet search, I discover that the best way to prepare kids for a back-to-school sleep schedule is by beginning early — 10 days to two weeks early, to be exact. Realizing that we’ve blown that deadline, I read on and am relieved to learn that if you don’t have that much time left between now and the first day of school, don’t fret — just start as soon as you can. There were numerous tips on how exactly to do this, and one I thought would be the least painful for everyone was to progressively put Giuseppe to bed 15-minutes earlier each night and wake him 15-minutes earlier each morning.

Now my brain kicks in with, “How can we make this fun?” With the time so short until the first day of school, I decided to create a simple Back-to-School Challenge in Gi’s favorite theme – Super Mario. I mapped out some simple rewards of “mystery packages” for him to earn and unwrap on selected days when he hits the sleep/wake goals. (Yes, there is a much larger conversation to have about extrinsic rewards with kids… we can revisit that at a later date.)

For now, in this simple seven-day challenge, Gi won the first round and unwrapped a mystery package of 100 Mario stickers. He and his little brother made up stories and adventures with them all morning – and we’re tentatively on our way to back-to-school sleep schedule success.

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