If you’ve talked to a parent who’s used a sleep coach, you’ve probably heard absolutely glowing reviews. Phrases like “life changing,” “it’s like magic,” and “best money I’ve ever spent” are thrown around in testimonials so much that the skeptic in your brain probably has its alarm on red alert. Talking to a mom that used a coach can sometimes feel like talking to a cult member - or a multi-level marketing salesperson! You may have had a conversation with one of these well-rested moms and at some point asked the question:
“So… what does a sleep coach really do?”
I think we get this question so often because the testimonials are so fanatical - it must be too good to be true. So, we decided to write up a post that outlines what it is that makes a sleep coach such an amazing experience with the hope of demystifying the experience and answering the question that every good skeptic asks.
People that help improve a family’s and child’s sleep go by all sorts of titles: coaches, consultants, experts, gurus, saviors (okay, we made that last one up). Why coach? We think of a coach as someone who can set up a strategy, cheer you on, and debrief successes and setbacks - but, at the end of the day, it’s YOU that has to put the plan into action.
As a busy parent, you’ve probably got 10+ things on your mind at any given time. Add in sleep deprivation, and navigating finding a solution to a problem as multifaceted and complex as sleep can be a daunting task. Every book on Amazon has a different philosophy, every blogger or Instagrammer a different technique, and every in-law a different opinion. You can do your research, pick a method that seems to fit your family, and soldier on alone… but that’s a lot. And if it doesn’t work, it can be demoralizing to be back to square-one.
A sleep coach takes the sometimes jumbled mess of what’s going on in your sleep life and distills it to its essential components. A good sleep coach really listens to you and at the same time understands the uniqueness of your situation and sees patterns from their training and experience that help them put together a perfect plan.
A good sleep coach never develops a “cookie-cutter” sleep plan. Sure, there are components that might look the same from one plan to another, but every child and every family truly is different, so the plans should be too.
When it comes to sleep, factors like age, temperament, physiology, psychology, work schedules, siblings, parental values, all intersect with each other and influence how successful a given plan of action might be.
A good sleep coach is in constant contact with you, whether via email, phone, or just reacting to updates in a sleep log. Teaching your kids to sleep can be hard. You might battle through guilt, uncertainty, and emotional turmoil that’s only exacerbated by sleeplessness. Having a trusted coach to guide you and provide that extra bit of motivation and encouragement on the toughest nights may be just what you need to make it through.
I think this factor is incredibly important, but is so often dismissed by parents - “I can do this on my own, I don’t need motivation or accountability.” I get that feeling 100%. But there is just something about having a human coach that makes it 10 times easier. And it’s not just my opinion - it’s science! Behavioral and health coaching has been shown over and over in studies to significantly improve outcomes and adherence to a plan.
There is nothing quite like having a verified expert at your fingertips. It’s like a cheat-code - like having a doctor or a lawyer in the family. It’s having someone you can turn to to be the one source of truth when it comes to your child’s sleep.
Having this expert can be absolutely game-changing. Parenthood can often feel lonely, and oftentimes extremely overwhelming. It’s been described as like showing up to school only to realize you have to take a final exam in a class you never attended! Having an expert coach in your corner can be especially useful if you’re a first-time parent, or if your partner (or in-law) isn’t quite as “on-board” as you’d like them to be. Coaches aren’t mediators, but they are experts, which can be just as effective when it comes to sleep.
In summary, think of a sleep coach like an athletic coach - someone who can guide you with a perfect strategy and give you the tools and motivation you need to succeed. They will: