Sleep Coaching: What is a Sleep Coach and what do they do?

If you’ve ever dealt with some level of ongoing physical pain chances are your doctor recommended that you go see a physical therapist. That’s because the types of therapies for rehabilitating the body from injury, illness or disability are outside of the scope of what doctors are trained to treat. 

Now imagine this scenario, you are suffering from an extended period of sub-par sleep. You feel tired, you might have even seen a sleep specialist, who confirmed that you don’t have sleep apnea. That said, they confirmed that you do have ongoing problems getting sufficient sleep each night. Also, even when you do get enough sleep, you still wake up feeling tired and groggy.

This is where sleep coaching enters the picture. Think of a sleep coach as the sleep equivalent to a physical therapist: they help you to strategically manage sleep troubles and overcome years of habits that are working against your sleep goals.

Sleep coaches work with people of all ages who need to learn or re-learn sleep habits in order to get the right amount of good sleep to keep their bodies and minds healthy.

Sleep coaching is a relatively new type of specialty. It can also be useful in a variety of contexts including weight loss, improving skin health, immune health, mood, increasing productivity, enhancing athletic performance, and more. 

The question is what level of sleep improvement is possible with a sleep coach and how do you know when you are getting a good night’s sleep once again — what does success look like?

What is a sleep coach?

A sleep coach for adults is similar to a life coach, but for sleep. Mind blown right? Sleep coaches take into account day-to-day habits as well as the sleep and home environments to develop a personalized plan to help you sleep better. A sleep coach can be a great resource for one-on-one, personalized advice to deal with sleep issues.[1] Of course, if you find that you have been experiencing sleep problems for a period of several months, you should talk to a sleep specialist first to rule out or treat sleep disorders with a physical cause.

A sleep coach, sometimes referred to as a sleep consultant, uses interdisciplinary methods that incorporates medical history, diet, lifestyle, current sleep patterns, psychological health, and other factors.

Sleep coaches may inspect the home environment, your sleeping space, and anything else that could affect the quality and quantity of your nightly sleep habits to make suggestions on how to improve your sleeping quarters.

Benefits of sleep coaching?

Sleep coaches focus on many different aspects of your sleep and take an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to help you sleep better. The purpose of sleep coaching is to enlist the help of a sleep manager to survey your sleeping environment, day-to-day habits, and home environment to see where improvements can be made to optimize your sleep quality.  

It can be helpful to have a trained eye examine your sleeping environment, habits, and schedule to come up with a plan for you. When you were a child your parents likely provided these sorts analyses and feedback. But as we grew up, there were fewer influences helping us to enforce healthy sleep habits. 

Many of us have been just making it up as we go along — for decades! For that reason, it can be beneficial to have an independent audit of our life and bedtime routine. Don’t worry, they’re not going to come in and say: “Alright, from this point forth, no more coffee!” That is, unless that’s secretly what you want to hear? 

They might say: “It looks like you are staying up till midnight and it’s taking you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, let’s switch to decaf after 12pm and no caffeinated beverages after 3pm. Let’s change these light bulbs and use an alarm clock rather than your phone. Let’s charge your phone in the other room and see where that gets us in two weeks. Let’s track your sleep for two weeks and see where we are.”

Your sleep coach can also help you to adapt your bedroom to minimize ambient or early morning light or make recommendations for bedding and room temperature.

Sleep Coaching Smartphone Apps and Smart Devices

There are a few sleep coaching options out there, each with their own pros and cons. Given that sleep coaching is such a beneficial sleep tool, Remrise has put together a completely unique one-on-one sleep coaching program for customers. 

What makes it unique aside from being integrated with our personalized sleep formulas, meditations, and sleep tracking tools is that it’s free and you can easily share access to your Remrise sleep tracking data directly with your Remrise sleep coach.

There are a few other sleep coach apps available for sleep coaching in the iOS and android app stores, and we encourage you to check out their offerings. The best sleep coaching app is the one that you use and the one that helps you improve the quality of your sleep.

Sleep coaching smartphone apps work by collecting data on your sleep patterns. They can make use of your phone’s microphone and accelerometer to measure noise and your movements throughout the night.  

Here’s the thing, whatever app you choose, make sure it’s one that doesn’t require you to take your phone to bed with you. Many apps will use the accelerometer in your smartphone as a way to determine when you’ve fallen asleep and when you’ve woken up. 

The problem though is that our phones are so darn addictive and light emitting that they end up keeping us awake despite our best intentions. 

We recommend steering clear of taking your phone to bed with you. Wearables can be a better alternative to track your sleep patterns. 

The data collected and analyzed by smart devices for sleep can provide insightful information that can improve sleep habits. But in an ironic twist, they can also, in some cases, actually cause a new form of insomnia called orthosomnia, a novel kind of sleep anxiety or perfectionism brought on by the act of tracking sleep variables. Before investing in some of these options check out our article on sleep trackers, what they do and what they don’t do.

How do sleep coaches measure success?

Because poor sleep quality is associated with a host of long-term ailments, measuring success can be tricky. 

Measuring quality sleep is harder than it sounds. Outside of a sleep lab, quality sleep is measured by quantity as a proxy. By looking at sleep latency (the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep) and the length of sleep disturbances you can measure improvements in quantity. For now, quality sleep is more of a feeling than an objectively measurable thing.

A sleep coach can help you identify ways to judge quality. For example, they might help you track your immune health, weight changes, and skin health — all of which will usually improve with better sleep. 

To learn more about sleep quality check out this article.

Sleep coaching, either in person or via smartphone app, may be a good option for people who are experiencing sleep issues. If your sleep issues have persisted for a long period of time, it may be a good idea to seek medical advice from a sleep specialist, who can help you to understand if there are any underlying medical issues affecting your sleep.

Glossary

Sleep coaching: A holistic type of sleep consulting, similar to a physiotherapist, with the purpose of improving health outcomes by adapting sleep habits.

References

1. Listfield, E.  July 4, 2017. “I Hired a Sleep Coach—and It Actually Made a Big Difference.” Health Magazine. Available at https://www.health.com/sleep/sleep-coach.

2. My Sleep Coach at Apple Store.  Available at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/my-sleep-coach/id936292288.

3. My Sleep Coach at Google Play Store.  Available at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.s3phoenix.mobile&hl=en_US.

4. Stacey-Brown, K.  November 2, 2016. “New app puts a sleep coach in your bedroom.”  Futurity. Available at https://www.futurity.org/sleepcoacher-apps-sleep-1287462-2/.

5. Fitbit One.  Available at https://www.fitbit.com/nl/one.

6. Beddit.  Available at https://www.beddit.com.