Beeminder Forum

Beeminding Sleep Restriction Therapy?

I’ve had a bad experience with Beeminder before (I think there’s quite a few reasons for this, but I won’t go into them now), but I’m thinking of giving Beeminder a second chance. I’m hoping some of you can help me out! Sorry for the long train-of-thought rambling.

I’m using an online app from my healthcare provider to help improve my sleep, and at my current stage of treatment in the app I need to self-enact some sleep restriction therapy (SRT) for a few weeks. (You can find medical/academic literature about it online.)

The long-and-short of it is that each week I will have a specific slot of potential sleep time, and I will avoid napping entirely, if possible. For arguments sake let’s say it starts out at 00:00 – 06:30. I’d like a commitment device for “each side”:

  1. I’d like to be off all of my screens (not including books or e-readers) by 23:30, and I’d like to have finished my bedtime routine (brushing teeth, shower, etc.) by 23:55 and be in my room and ready to go to bed. For SRT I don’t actually have to get into bed at my bedtime if I don’t feel sleepy enough (ideally I should fall asleep in less than 15 minutes from getting into bed), so from 23:55 onwards I can read or journal or listen to music in my bedroom with dim lights if I’m not yet sleepy. (Probably I’ll be sleepy every night after the first.)

  2. When my alarm goes off at 06:30, I’d like to go outside and walk to the end of my block (just a few yards) to make sure that I don’t get back into bed or onto the sofa and snooze again.

I would appreciate y’all’s comments and suggestions about how to do this. My current throughs are below.

Changes I'd like to try this time around

I have tried beeminding my sleep before, but it didn’t work. I have a few things that I would like to try differently this time.

  1. I’d like to have all of my data be entered automatically, rather than manually. For example, I’d like a data point inserted automatically at, say, 23:55 if I have not used my phone or laptop since 23:30. Similarly, I’d like to have a data point inserted when, say, I reach a certain GPS location with my phone before 07:00 in the morning.

  2. I think one of the problems that I had before is that, as a poor PhD student, there is very little room between “this pledge is scary and will motivate me”, and “this pledge is so high that if I pay it I will actually have to eat less this week”, which consequently meant that paying the fine seemed incredibly irrational, so instead I entered fake data. But this just trained me to be dishonest, which made me distressed anyway because I am normally a fairly honest person and this lead to a lot of cognitive dissonance. So from the outset I’ll plan how long my SRT will last and how much the max I could pay in the worst case scenario is. e.g. $1 per day for 60 days. Worst case I pay $60.

  3. I think the respite (days of mercy) feature lead to me “binging” after derail, so I’m not going to use it (except that the lowest pledge is $5 so I’m going to set 4 days of respite so that I don’t pay more than $5 in 5 days, and I’m still going to set the slope to 1).

  4. I’d like a way to “verify” that my data is correct. My best ideas so far are: I could take a photo of myself brushing teeth in the evening and upload it somewhere. It’s unlikely that I’ll actually brush my teeth and then go back downstairs and back onto my devices. Uploading this photo between 23:30 and 23:55 would verify that (a) I didn’t go to bed before my sleep window started (or if I did then I had to set an alarm to get back up and upload that photo), and (b) I was off my electronic devices (at least long enough to brush my teeth) before my bedtime window started.

  5. Similarly, I could take a selfie at the end of the block and upload it somewhere. For even better verification I could include a newspaper in the background. Sticking to my morning alarm would be verified by the upload time being before 07:00.

  6. I realise this would require an update to the beeminder billing system, but this is what I wish for: My bank gives me a push notification on my phone whenever a transaction is made. At a shop when I pay by card. When I buy something online. etc. This goes for beeminder too. But the notification always comes in late. I’d like to be billed at 00:01 am if I haven’t gone to bed on time. (Or for the morning goal I’d like to be billed at 07:01 if I haven’t walked to the end of my block.)

Now, I could link to my beeminder goal in a forum post and reply with photos every day, which would give external evidence that I was being honest. However, if I just didn’t upload evidence I’d not have any more penalty than just someone replying and saying “you’ve updated your data for today but I don’t see your photo, what’s up!?" So I’m wondering if maybe I could use Boss As A Service, and send my verification photos to them, and they put the data into my beeminder goal somehow?

Or maybe I just want Boss As A Service and nothing else?

Any ideas, advice, or suggestions are appreciated!


Some of this you can achieve by using deadline waterfalls–that is, setting your deadlines at different times during the day, like one with a deadline to get up and walk when your alarm goes off. I don’t think that’s a whole solution, but it could be a part of one.

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Ahh good point! This plus instant billing would be my dream!

(Because that way I’d have until the deadline to stay on the road, and the moment the deadline passes and I haven’t stayed on the road I’ll get a notification from my bank saying I’ve paid the fine. So the desire to not get that notification should help me stay on track.)


Okay I’ve set up to goals and made them public:

And I’ve signed up to BaaS and they’re gonna be expecting selfies from me at the appropriate time in the morning/evening as proof that I’m sticking to it.


Glad you found a way that works. I love that idea of using BaaS for that!

I’m also doing sleep restriction with Sleepio right now. I’ve done it before when I was in grad school, so I know it will work, but man is it hard. I set up my light alarm clock (they are awesome if you don’t have one, it might help) and my phone alarm and 3 quickly in succession Fitbit silent alarms and it’s been helpful for getting me out of bed on rimw. The hard part lately is staying up till late enough.

Going outside for 10-15 minutes to get sunlight in your eyes right when you wake up is a great idea for your circadian rhythms.

Good luck with your sleep restriction therapy, hope it helps you develop a healthy sleeping pattern so you can feel rested all day.

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