I recently read an article in Men’s Health about sleep coaching.
It turns out that sleep coaching is becoming big business these days, now the gym Equinox has a program, several of the more popular apps out there have coaching programs, and there are now online insomnia programs (I have a very popular one you can check out here).
Before you jump on just any sleep coaching program though, there are several things I think everyone should consider when choosing the right program for them:
- Is the program developed by a Sleep Doctor or evaluated by one? Or was it developed by someone who has had their own personal health journey, which involved getting their sleep back in order? The reason I hesitate to recommend the ones not created by a clinician, is simple. When a Clinician creates a program for people to use, it is often based on both their academic experiences as well as their patient experiences, so the information is less one-sided. There are MANY different types of poor quality sleep, and all need to be represented in an effective coaching program.
- Does the program help assess if you have a sleep disorder? EVERY program needs to have an assessment to make sure that your poor-quality sleep IS NOT due to an underlying sleep disorder like sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, etc.
- Does the program assess if you could have a medical situation that is causing your sleep disturbance? Once again, EVERY program needs to help you understand what to treat.
- Could it be a thyroid issue- this can look like insomnia if you experience hyperthyroid for example.
- Could it be a vitamin or mineral deficiency: Vitamin D, low Omegas, low magnesium, or low iron to name a few.
- Does the program ask about potential medications you are taking that could be causing your poor-quality sleep? Once again this can be an easy remedy if your sleep quality is poor due to medication. If it is medication related, you should speak with your doctor. Many times, your doctor may:
- Change the time of administration
- Change the dose
- Change the medication itself
***Of special note you should NEVER change your medication in ANY way unless you have discussed it with your doctor.
- Does the program help assess your Chronotype? You have heard me speaking about Chronotypes quite a bit, and I will continue, if you are a Wolf (aka Night Owl) you may not have insomnia, that may just be the way you are! If you don’t know your Chronotype, take my Chronotype Quiz
- Does the program help you evaluate your bedroom? There are so many different potential environmental issues which can impact quality sleep, for example:
- How much light is in the room?
- How loud is the room?
- How old is your mattress, pillow, bedding, etc.
- Does the program assess your daytime habits that impact nighttime sleep? There are many different daily habits that will ultimately cause you to sleep better or worse, for example:
- Alcohol intake: how much and how close to bedtime?
- Caffeine intake: how much and how close to bedtime
- Exercise: what type and when?
While this is not an extensive list, it will certainly help you narrow it down if you are looking for a sleep coach or sleep coaching online course.
If you don’t have insomnia and just want to work on increasing performance, longevity, and wellbeing by sleeping better, you can check out my Better Sleep Course, it is self-directed, easy, and most importantly effective.
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Dr. Michael Breus