Everyone’s experienced a groggy morning after a poor night’s sleep. You struggle to get out of bed, pour yourself a giant cup of coffee, and move from one task to the next under a thick haze. In some cases, you’re never able to take full control of your day.
No one deserves a bad night’s rest, much less several in a row. Regular, healthy sleep keeps you energized and mentally fit. Without it, your mood withers, enthusiasm fades, and productivity plummets. If you struggle to get quality rest on your own, it might be time to turn to a sleep coach for help.
Sometimes — and often without you realizing it — life gets in the way of your sleep habits. Perhaps you stretch yourself thin with the myriad responsibilities of parenthood, self-care, and your career. Or maybe you struggle to maintain good sleep hygiene because cell phone addiction convinces you to procrastinate at bedtime. Whatever the reason, you’re not alone: the culprits behind bad sleep are innumerable and common.
Taking control of your sleep is essential to leading a healthy life. Fortunately, you don’t have to forge a path to better sleep habits alone. A sleep coach leverages science and practical strategies to create a tailored plan to improve your quality of sleep. Having one in your corner can reduce the tossing and turning and bring you the good night’s rest you deserve.
What’s a sleep coach?
A sleep coach provides education, support, and an actionable plan to overcome sleep problems and build better habits.
They’re not the same as a sleep consultant, who’s a registered and trained medical professional. Often associated with parenting young children and infants, a certified sleep consultant or registered nurse can help parents and caregivers regulate their baby’s sleep foundation.
Of course, their work isn’t exclusive to babies and parents — they can apply their expertise to help people of all ages develop healthcare-based strategies for improving sleep quality.
Sleep coaching also benefits new parents and poor sleepers, just in a different way. Sleep coaches for adults and children support their clients as they work to address sleep concerns and adjust their nighttime routines. This might mean holding the client accountable to a doctor-prescribed action plan or offering education and support in a non-medical context.
Many people turn to a specialized coach when sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality has already significantly affected their daily functioning. However, a sleep expert is valuable to anyone who wants to develop a more holistic plan to protect and nurture their mental and physical health.
Even for an activity as elemental as sleep, you can always work to improve. It could be something as simple as going to sleep earlier or making sure not to sleep too much.
Sleep support works like any other type of coaching program. It begins with a 1:1 assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, and objectives. The initial meeting to understand your sleep challenges may happen on the phone, in person, or in a virtual coaching session, depending on your location and preferences.
You can expect to evaluate several details about your sleep conditions with the sleep coach. These might include:
- Bedtime routine: How you wind down at night, late-night eating patterns, and phone usage
- Environment: Noise, light exposure, and overall comfort of your pillows and mattress
- Duration: The total amount of sleep you get regularly
- Quality: Whether you wake up refreshed and ready to go or tired and ready crawl back in bed
- Emotional well-being: External factors, such as work-related stress, relationship problems, and chronic anxiety, that can impact your ability to get to sleep
- Medical history: Underlying medical conditions, sleep disorders, or sleep medicine that negatively impacts your sleep
How can sleep coaching help you?
It’s never a bad idea to ask for help, even with something as natural as sleep. Good sleep is foundational to your mental and physical health — and if you don’t get enough of it, you’ll likely feel the impacts on your work and general well-being.
Here are some ways hiring a sleep coach can help:
1. Improve habits
You may not be aware of how much the rest of your day’s habits inform the quality of your sleep. Diet, exercise, and work-life balance all affect how well you rest. But smaller details that aren’t as easy to spot can negatively impact you, too. Keeping glued to your devices and being dehydrated can also negatively impact the quality of your sleep.
Together with a sleep coach, you can uncover unhealthy habits and build an action plan to address them. The results will extend far beyond sleep solutions because you must address routines or conditions that impact other aspects of your life to improve your sleep.
For example, you might regularly stay up late to finish work because you procrastinate during the day. Addressing the root cause won’t only improve your sleep — it’ll also help you feel less stressed. Plus, good sleep helps you perform better at work and enjoy your free time.
2. Transform the quality of sleep
If you’re looking for sleep support, your first objective is likely to improve the quality of your sleep. According to the CDC, adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.
But quantity is only half the challenge. When you sleep, you go through 90-minute cycles of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (non-REM). Non-REM sleep is the deep sleep that revitalizes your immune system, connects ideas, and organizes memory.
3. Create a sleep plan
Life gets busy — which is maybe why you’re having sleep problems to begin with. One of the most obvious benefits of sleep coaching for adults is a step-by-step plan to sort out your sleep issues. The coach’s mission is to help you succeed, which means they want to work with you to create a holistic and realistic strategy that considers your lifestyle and daily routine.
While gleaning advice from friends and colleagues can be useful, your challenges are unique. Everyone has different needs and realities — an independent contractor with a fluctuating workload doesn’t have the same obstacles as a parent working a night shift.
A coach considers all these challenges and builds them into a comprehensive and personalized action plan.
4. Develop a proactive attitude
Sometimes responsibilities at work and home get in the way of taking care of yourself. If you feel overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to find a balance — you’re not alone.
A sleep training coach can help you become more aware of habits that negatively impact your rest and overall health, and seeing the positive results of a new sleep plan might encourage you to be proactive in other areas of your well-being.
Do I need a sleep coach? 7 telltale signs
If you frequently wake up groggy and move through your day in a daze, reaching out for help is a good idea. Here are seven signs that might indicate that hiring a sleep coach is the right move:
- You’re a shift worker with irregular hours struggling to maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Chronic daytime fatigue interrupts your day, even when you get enough hours of sleep
- You travel regularly for work, and jet lag disrupts your sleep patterns
- Poor bedtime habits like excessive screen time, irregular eating schedules, and procrastination obstruct a regular sleep schedule
- Anxiety or stress about sleeping creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you struggle to find calm at bedtime
- You have an underlying health condition that impedes your ability to fall asleep, like sleep onset association disorder or sleep apnea
- A mood disorder — such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression — causes sleep disturbances
Remember: a sleep coach isn’t a substitute for a medical professional. If your sleep is significantly impacting your health (or vice versa), you should reach out to a doctor. In many cases, the best sleep coaches support clients as they navigate their doctor’s advice.
How to choose the right sleep coach
There’s a sleep coach out there for everyone — and finding the right one for you requires careful searching. Here’s how to choose the right coach for you:
Understand your needs: Although a sleep coach can help you identify your objectives, doing some preparation beforehand is a good idea. Take a moment to reflect on your sleep issues and what you hope to gain from hiring a coach.
Consider details like your diet, work routine, stress levels, and mental health and how they impact your ability to rest. The exercise will help you narrow your search for the right coach and build an openness to breaking down and building new habits.
Check their credentials: A parent looking for a coach to help with their child’s sleep and their own has different needs than a young professional building a stronger work-life balance.
Coaches come with all experiences and expertise — pay attention to their certifications, credentials, and years of experience to ensure their skills and know-how align with your specific objectives and needs.
Look for a connection: Working with a coach is a vulnerable and personal experience. It’s important to feel comfortable discussing your needs, whether it’s your personal routine or relationship with anxiety.
During your initial messaging and first consultation, pay attention to their listening skills and communication style. If you feel comfortable sharing, that’s a sign you’ve found the right coach.
- Use AI to your advantage: Innovative technology can help build a dataset specific to your habits. Data from a sleep tracker allows your coach to pinpoint your specific challenges, create a step-by-step plan, and use data analysis to follow and support your progress.
Get the sleep you deserve
Whether you struggle to fall asleep or stay that way, a sleep coach that specializes in getting you a good night’s rest can help.
Regular, quality sleep is integral to your health — a good night’s rest ensures that your body and mind get the rest and replenishment it needs. And nurturing good sleep habits doesn’t just help you get more shut-eye. It also translates to better focus, more energy, and less stress.
Don’t neglect the importance of rest. When sleepless nights transform into healthy sleep, you’ll be happy you reached out for a helping hand.