I am trying to convince both my daughters the importance of a good night's sleep. My recent experience rationalizing with them has me considering the similarities with making my case to executive decision makers. "Because I said so!" isn't a respected reason in either case. Even if my "ethos" as a parent is larger than it is as a technologist and executives feel less skeptical than my kids do.

Aristotle outlined three ways of making your case in The Rhetoric. They were logical, emotional and reputation based. I tend to ignore the emotional side of arguments, probably at my own detriment, because I tend to be more data-driven. I like to think my reputation and experience gains me some credibility in business, but it doesn't do much for me with my kids. As a parent, I want my kids to be rational decision makers, and wish more businesses were too. So, on a long drive to hockey practice I worked with my younger daughter on a data driven way we could measure our sleep and make better decisions.

Explaining to my kids that they aren't getting enough sleep is along the same lines as explaining the importance of nutrition. They see the immediate benefit of staying up late similar to the immediate gratification of a sugary drink while the long term harm of sleep deprivation or too much sugar is beyond their planning horizon. Kids also see staying up late as some kind of right of passage. I used this last concept to my advantage. If we can come up with a data driven way to analyze if we are getting enough sleep then it works in both directions. If we are getting plenty, it would rationalize a later bed-time.

Of course, sleep is hard to measure and many scientist who are smarter than me are still trying to figure out what is meant by "enough sleep." For the purpose of this experiment my kids and I have agreed that our KPI is going to be how you feel when you wake up in the morning, and if you can wake up naturally or require an alarm clock, after getting a consistent amount of sleep. To measure this we will try, starting tonight, to have a consistent sleep and wake time all 7 days a week. Each day we will measure if we woke up before our alarm, and how we feel in the morning.

So, starting tonight I have a bed-time, and so does my younger daughter. And, we will both be up bright and early tomorrow morning, or at least try to be. After a week or so of collecting data we will analyze it and see how well the data collection is going and see if any data-driven decisions can be made. My hypothesis is that neither of us get enough sleep and I foresee this forcing me to ratchet down my bed-time too!

Updates: I will post periodic follow-up posts with data results.

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