Sleepiness is generally caused by not enough proper or restful sleep. When we talk about sleep it is usually to address how little we get, need, or our struggles with it. We often place little to no emphasis on how important it is and in the case of medical professionals our sleep health is often overlooked, as they receive little to no training about it and often fail to manage their own sleep. Medical residents are often required to work for 18 hours straight which produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication!
Society’s challenges with sleep have helped propel the sleep industry to a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. People are struggling to get to sleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling like they are ready to take on the day with the energy their lives require to manage it all. Sleep not only affects how we function physically and mentally but our emotional health as well. Everyone is trying to use sleep as a means for grabbing the attention of their customers these days with the promise to relieve their anxiety and to make their sleep issues disappear, but they often fail to understand that it may not be a single factor at play. Programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have grown in popularity both online and in the limited number of clinical behaviorist and psychologists’ offices, as insomnia remains one of the top 5 sleep issues people struggle with. The problem lies just in that. There are over 80+ classified sleep disorders all unique and involve the need for various forms of integrative therapies which also require an understanding of the dynamics of sleep to provide a formula that creates the art and science of a good night's sleep.
As a diagnostic sleep consultant for over a decade, I would call on physicians’ offices of every specialty from allergists to urologists talking to them about the risks of undiagnosed sleep disorders. As with everything some were open to hearing about the importance of screening their patients, while others were dismissive and focused on trying to combat their patients’ other medical issues, but the truth is - sleep is where you start. Sleep is the foundation for optimal health. It can contribute to why a patient suffers from high blood pressure, has developed diabetes, to why they are feeling depressed or withdrawn from the world. There is a clear bi-directional relationship between a number of mental health issues and the quality of your sleep. Sleep not only affects your focus, but your ability to form memories, recover from vigorous workouts or training, to why you are unable to lose the weight at all. While sleep coaching is still misunderstood the good news is the conversation has started. A dialogue that should make you stop and think – How well do I really sleep?
Are you able to fall asleep without the help of prescription pills? How long does it take you to fall asleep? Do you stay asleep? And most importantly how do you feel throughout the day? If you are reliant continuously on sleep aids and are unable to fall asleep naturally, than you are most likely not getting the restorative sleep you need to manage and maintain your health. A lot of why individuals struggle with sleep is directly connected with day-to-day lifestyle choices. A sleep coach is a great source of ongoing support and can provide dedicated time to address and bring to light the factors that could be robbing you of some precious ZZZ's.
Too often instead of seeking help individuals will turn to the the latest consumer sleep products. New products are being released into the market almost daily, but often cause more harm than good and can actually be more disruptive to achieving healthy sleep. Contrary to what you might believe mixing every sleep herb together doesn't make for perfect sleep. Studies and the research conducted advises against it. Their effectiveness is often reliant on using them independently and selecting the appropriate one at the appropriate time. What we may need also changes depending on what and why we currently have a sleep challenge.
Even with the creation of new sleep applications, capturing data is great but as any researcher will tell you, data is just data if you do not know what to do with it, what it means, or worse are unclear if it is even an accurate picture of your true sleep health. Can it be used as a tool for changing behavior? Absolutely! But although one of the primary reasons for sleep issues that lead to sleep deprivation are voluntary, unintentional behaviors, other than telling you to turn in earlier, how can a tracker help you otherwise? Most successful changes require you to assess your behavior, understand your sleep patterns to make and create healthier habits. It also requires accountability, which a sleep coach can provide.
I cannot speak for other sleep coaches but at START WITH SLEEP, we have a very unique business model. We focus not only on asking the right questions to get to the source of the problem, but provide solutions tailored for the individual that include utilizing the best sleep tools if and only when necessary. Not all are created equal. Just ask someone what their best sleep tip and you will get a number of responses. Sleep is not a one size fits all kind of industry. Everyone has different needs. There are drink recipes, sleep tricks and methods people swear by but what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. For instance, you may have heard about boiling and drinking a banana peel or even the entire one in a tea. Does it work? Sure it can work. Bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium both important to aid in good sleep and that work as natural muscle relaxants. They even contain properties that can convert to a small source of melatonin, but if your issue isn’t a nutritional deficiency and there is something medically significant involved like you are gasping for air in your sleep, then the benefits that it can provide will be short term and will not address the deeper issue, often times a medical one that needs further evaluation.
My work, first and foremost is as a sleep health educator, but as a sleep coach I provide the support needed to get you to a place where you can fall asleep naturally. Your sleep needs to be viewed the same way you would a nutrition or a fitness plan. We are starting to understand the role education plays in managing our health. Focusing on helping individuals assess their individual health needs is gaining momentum but providing it is still very much under-utilized in every day practice. Our health system is still based on generalizations that are applied to the masses and often do not incorporate the latest scientific research. The viewpoint of someone with sleep health education vs traditional medical training is very different as sleep coaches look past finding a short term fix or masking the problem, we focus on digging until we find the root causes. Unhealthy sleep habits can lead to a long list of health issues. We are learning more about the role it plays in managing our health every day, but currently medical doctors spend less than 23 hours on nutrition in their entire medical training and spend even less, only 4.25 on sleep! It is no wonder why going to your doctor may not be the answer to treating your sleep challenges.
If you suffer from sleep apnea they can most certainly be the first line to help refer you to a sleep specialist or sleep doctor for further testing, but if it is a sleep quality issue because of behavioral choices, diagnostic sleep testing may not help you. Also having and maintaining good sleep hygiene are important to sleep, whether a medical sleep issue is present or not. Furthermore, if it is medical but not a medical sleep disorder, other health issues can be missed such as hormonal imbalances, another cause of daytime fatigue and nightly sleep issues. A sleep coach can help assess your lifestyle and to identify symptoms to help you communicate them to the medical professional who can diagnose and treat you appropriately. This can also often include the recommendation for a blood panel that includes nutritional deficiency testing and consulting with a nutritionist for dietary changes. It is also important to note that masking issues of fatigue with Vitamin B shots or self-supplementing won’t solve your problem long term either. The best source of supporting your system and maintaining healthy sleep patterns is through foods not just supplements. It is important to note that vitamins can even interact with medications and be over consumed.
A sleep coach has the ability to raise the questions that will get you pointed in the right direction with education to support you from a holistic point of view. It is a fresh perspective that is greatly needed. Sadly, most medical professionals are able to fulfill their continuing medical credits in a weekend conference. Certainly not enough time to address all the new research being released every day, on all the areas that create the wellness wheel of complete health. It takes continued training and understanding in order to put it into good practice. With busy practice models it isn't always a priority or even a motivation for most medical professionals who are already caught up in all the regulations and guidelines they have to follow to see reimbursement for their time by insurance companies. Sleep coaches can therefore be an added value in the healthcare model.
I do believe that sleep coaching as an industry does need to be better regulated. By doing so it would require individuals to pursue the proper training and education to truly be an extension and added source of value to the healthcare community. But on the alternative end until that happens, I do not believe it should just be dismissed as a luxury or unnecessary investment. Being provided the education to help you capture back the night and get the rest your body needs to repair, recover and restore itself is worth every penny when you understand how much of your health it controls.
UPDATE: We are proud to announce our collaboration with the International Parenting & Health Institute. Our owner, Soda Kuczkowski will now be updating and instructing their Integrative Adult Sleep Coach Certification program. At START WITH SLEEP we are committed to ensuring that as the field of sleep health grows that we are doing our part to maintain a standard for quality education for both sleep consultants + coaches that is backed by sleep research, sleep science and sleep medicine. This online program is:
✔Global Recognized Certification for Sleep Coaching
✔Approved Training Provider by The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants (APSC)
✔Available in Multiple Languages - (Currently English, Spanish + Coming Soon German!)
✔Self-Directed 18 Module Program
✔Provides Tools for Business Development + Marketing
✔Ongoing Support - Live Weekly Support Calls
✔Lead by Industry Experts
About the IPHI:
Since 2009, the International Parenting and Health Institute has been at the forefront of parenting and health education, offering integrative, holistic, cutting-edge training and preparation. Their online learning format allows students from all over the world to experience their world-class training programs through their online school and curriculum. . With over 3,000 graduates and 20 instructors, IPHI is currently represented in 46 countries globally. Programs are available in 10 different languages including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Dutch. 🌏