What Are Sleep Coaches and What Can They Do for You?
Sleep coaches are called coaches for a reason.They’re like a personal trainer, except that they’re focused on guiding you to better sleep instead of making you fit. The first sleep coaches worked with infants, helping them to develop healthy sleep patterns. But it wasn’t long before tired parents and other adults realized they too could benefit from coaching. Let’s explore what these sleep experts actually do to make their clients sleep better.
Practicing good sleep hygiene and perfecting the environment
Some of the most important sleep coaching methods these professionals use are:
- Teaching their clients better habits related to sleeping, known as sleep hygiene. This can mean developing a personal pre-bedtime routine and being consistent with it.
- Making environmental changes to the bedroom, which may include removing your TV or using blackout curtains, for example.
You may know what good sleep habits are, but it can be difficult to put them into action alone. Having a coach guide you, hold you accountable, and teach you new strategies pushes you to really make those positive changes.
A sleep coach will look at your nutrition
What you eat impacts your health and well-being in so many ways. But your diet goes beyond weight and related chronic health conditions; it can also affect how you sleep. Sleep coaches use nutrition as one of their tools. They analyze their clients’ diets to make positive changes, like limiting alcohol, sugar, or caffeine.
Science backs up the fact that what you eat affects your sleep. In one study researchers determined that a diet rich in prebiotics improved the quality of non-REM sleep. It also reduced the negative impact of stress on sleep.
Meditation and relaxation
A professional sleep coach will likely ask you to try some mindfulness practices and relaxation techniques to improve your sleep quality. Breathing exercises, meditation and stretching, can all help to relax the body and prepare the mind for sleep.
Meditation, specifically, has been proven in studies to improve sleep quality. If you’re not quite ready for an in-person coach, you can try some of the meditations made specially to guide you to sleep on the BetterSleep app.
Finding a good sleep coach
Be cautious when you’re looking to hire a coach for better sleep. There is no certification or licensing and no real professional consensus on what sleep coaches are and do. As with other kinds of services, ask around with friends or colleagues and do some research on potential coaches.
A good coach will begin with a thorough assessment, and will likely visit your home to do so. This evaluation is important because everyone is different, and a professional will want to adapt strategies for each client’s needs and limitations.
Be aware that a good coach will also help you decide if you need medical or mental health care. Poor sleep can be triggered by a medical condition, like sleep apnea, or a mental illness like depression. Competent coaches will recognize that they can’t help you with those and will direct you to see your own physician or a doctor specializing in sleep.
Sleep coaching is not exactly new, but adults using these services is. If infants can benefit from sleep coaches, why not the rest of us?
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