picture of an online sleep coach on computer screen

How to find the right online sleep coach for you: practical tips and where to look

By Jason Wooden, PhD | August 25, 2020

Every night, millions around the world struggle with sleep.  An online sleep coach can help you identify sleep issues and provide individualized support.

While sleep coaches can’t diagnose sleep disorders or other medical issues, they may be just what some people need to get their sleep back on track. 

Since sleep coaching is a new and unregulated field, it’s important to do your homework.

Desperate insomniac seeking online sleep coach

It’s understandable if you’re feeling desperate and looking for an online sleep coach.

It’s unfortunate fact of the modern age that one in three adults in the US and 30% worldwide struggle with poor sleep.

For adults, it can make life hard for you and the people around you.

If it’s an infant or young child, it can be stressful and tough on the parents.  A 2008 study found that moms of infants with sleep problems were more likely to report symptoms of depression and experience parental stress.

Nonetheless, the causes of poor sleep are known and there’s lots of info available online about what you can do.  Despite this, millions continue to struggle with sleep as they deal with the daily distractions of life.

So, it makes sense that you looking for answers and help online.

If you do a quick google search for sleep coaches, you’ll see all sorts of things pop up.

However, how’s one to know whether it makes sense for them and which coach to try.

And does it really work?

It’s fair to say that sleep coaching is not for everyone and that not every sleep coach is right for you.

We’ll take an honest look at what we know, some things to think about, and where to look for an online sleep coach.

So, what is a sleep coach?

A sleep coach is someone who provides education and individualized support to help you improve your sleep.

Typically, they will gather info from you about your sleep habits and patterns, life situation, and other things going on that can affect sleep.  They can then help you come up with a plan and make adjustments along the way.

cartoon drawing a sports coach which is similar to an online sleep coach

An online sleep coach helps you by phone, video conferencing, and email instead of meeting in person.

Some of the advantages are:
Cost – generally cheaper than seeing a doctor
Convenience – they can work with you from your own home
Support – many offer ongoing help along the way

However, there are some things you should keep in mind.

First, there’s no uniform criteria for being a sleep coach and no standard training or certification.  In fact, one survey found that only 20% were licensed health care providers and only 38% carried malpractice insurance.

Secondly, sleep coaches do not diagnose sleep disorders.  That’s something you really need to see a doctor for.  Most sleep coaches will tell you this upfront.

All the same, an online sleep coach does make sense for some situations.  It’s just important to be clear on the type of help they offer and what they can’t do.

And be sure to do your homework.

A sleep coach is someone who provides education and individualized support to help you improve your sleep.

Typically, they will gather info from you about your sleep habits and patterns, life situation, and other things going on that can affect sleep.  They can then help you come up with a plan and make adjustments along the way.

Does sleep coaching really work?

Now, we finally get to the calculators.

Online, you’ll find a lot to choose from with most doing similar things.

Here I’ve listed some that you might find useful for different situations.  Again, keep in mind that what they give you is estimates.

picture of nutrition coach on computer screen which is similar to an online sleep coach

While online sleep coaching has not been directly tested, sleep coaching has been shown to be effective in studies.

A German study showed it could help members of the military improve their sleep.  Another study with Austrian railway shift workers found that a 2-day coaching seminar helped improve their sleep and alertness during the day.

Sleep coaching has been found to help other things besides sleep as participants are found to improve their well-being and self-care.

Studies have shown it can also help infants, toddlers, younger kids, and teens too.

So, yes, there’s scientific evidence that sleep coaches can help.

Tips for finding an online sleep coach

As I mentioned before, sleep coaching is an unregulated field with no uniform standards.  However, it may be just the things some people need to get their sleep back on track.

Just be sure to do your homework.

Some things to do include:

Credentials – Check whether they have any training or certification. If it’s not listed on their website, ask them.

Explore – Look through their free content

Free consultation or trial period where you can get more of a feel for them

Coaching style – is their approach something you’ll be comfortable with?

Success stories – Do they share written or video accounts where you hear about of the experiences of other clients?

Cost – What do they charge for it? What happens if you need extra help?

Services – What they offer and how they service clients? Is it by phone, video conference, or email?

Follow up – What’s available after you go through their sleep coaching program?

Again, be clear on what an online sleep coach can do for you and how they do it.  They can coach, but they can’t diagnose.

Online sleep coaches for adults

We’ve listed a couple options here:

Sleep Science Academy

What they offer:  phone consultations

Training / Certifications:  inquire

Trial/free consultation:  free consultation

Cost:  inquire

Learn more:
website
video

The Online Sleep Coach

What they offer:  phone and video consultations

Training / Certifications:  inquire

Trial/free consultation:  free consultation

Cost:  1 hr for $65

A Journey Into Health

What they offer:  phone or video consultations

Training / Certifications:  inquire

Trial/free consultation:  30 minute free consultation

Cost:  inquire

Learn more:
website
video

Insomnia Coach

What they offer:  phone and video consultations, unlimited email and text message support

Training / Certifications:  Certified Health Education Specialist, certification in Clinical Sleep Health, ACE-certified Health Coach

Trial/free consultation:  free sleep training course

Cost:  $599 for first consultation, $199 for 30 min follow up

Goodpath

What they offer:  1 on 1 coaching

Training / Certifications:  inquire

Trial/free consultation:  15-minute free consultation

Cost:  inquire

Online sleep coaches for Infants and Children

 Below, you’ll find some options to help your infants and kids of various age, and a list of websites with directories of online sleep coaches.

The Sleep Lady

Age:  6 months to 6 yrs. old

What they offer:  online course and follow up consultations
phone consultations; coaching available in many languages besides English

Training / Certifications:  diverse, see website

Trial/free consultation:  30-day money back guarantee for video course

Cost:  $399

Beanstalk Sleep Consulting

Age:  expecting & newborn parents, children, families

What they offer:  phone or skype consultations, email and phone follow up

Training / Certifications:  certified child sleep & behavior consultant

Trial/free consultation:  free 15-minute sleep consultation

Cost:  $125.00 – 475.00

Baby Sleep Love

Age:  babies

What they offer:  phone consultations, 30 days unlimited email support

Training / Certifications:  certified sleep consultant

Trial/free consultation:  free 15-minute sleep consultation

Cost:  $999

What else you should do

You should be practicing good sleep hygiene, the everyday things that set the foundation for quality sleep.  Your online sleep coach will likely remind you of this as sleep hygiene is important part of any insomnia treatment program.

For better sleep hygiene:

  • go to sleep and wake up at same time every day
  • avoid naps
  • exercise
  • avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime
  • maintain a bedtime routine
  • avoid using TVs, laptops, or other electronics before sleep
  • keep your bedroom dark, cool, quiet, & relaxing

It’s a good idea to see your doctor for a checkup.  Many other health issues can cause problems for sleep.  You may also be living with an undiagnosed sleep order like sleep apnea.

Experiences with a sleep coach

Curious about how sleep coaching has worked out for other people?  Take a look at some of these articles.

Adults:

Children and Families:

Sources:

1. “Short Sleep Duration Among US Adults”, CDC website

2. “World Sleep Day Talking Points”, World Sleep Society website

3. A Survey of Practicing Sleep Coaches, Behav Sleep Med. 2018;16(3):272-281.

4. “Health coaching is effective. Should you try it?”, 2020, Harvard Health Publishing

5. Development, implementation, and evaluation of a sleep coaching program for the German armed forces, Somnologie volume 22, pages36–44 (2018).

6. Sleep coaching: non-pharmacological treatment of non-restorative sleep in Austrian railway shift workers, Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 2019 70(3):186-193.

7. The benefits of sleep coaching in workplace health promotion, Journal of Public Health volume 25, pages685–691 (2017)

8. Behavioral treatment of bedtime problems and night wakings in infants and young children, Sleep. 2006 Oct;29(10):1263-76.

9. Infant sleep training: rest easy?, Can Fam Physician. 2018 Jan;64(1):41.

10. Sleep coach intervention for teens with type 1 diabetes: Randomized pilot study, Pediatr Diabetes. 2020 May;21(3):473-478.

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