June 19, 2024

What is an Adult Sleep Coach, Anyway?

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Many people have heard of pediatric sleep coaching, although there are still many parents who don’t know it exists.

Most people, however, have not yet heard of adult sleep coaching, and I’m excited to announce that Via Graces now officially has an adult sleep coach on the team!

In this blog post, I am introducing you to our newest team member, Kathryn Weber. She will share:

  • Why she decided to become an adult sleep coach
  • Her personal story of insomnia and how that led her to adult sleep coaching
  • Who adult sleep coaches can (and can’t) help

And more!

Introduce yourself!  

My name is Kathryn Weber I currently reside in Richmond, Virginia, but I have lived all over the East Coast, especially. I spent eight and a half years as an active-duty officer in the Coast Guard and transitioned out a few years ago to pursue a career in Biblical counseling.

Toward the end of my counseling program, I also realized I wanted to help adults who were struggling specifically with sleep, so I sought out additional training to become a certified adult sleep coach and now do that in tandem with counseling.

Why did you decide to become an adult sleep coach?

I became an adult sleep coach because I struggled with insomnia for almost a decade. I personally know how truly and uniquely awful it feels to be utterly exhausted yet unable to fall asleep.

In that time, I naturally did a lot of research and experimentation with sleep, while also seeking professional help. Additionally, as I was starting to get to know people more from a counseling perspective, I began to realize that sleep wasn’t just hard for me, it’s actually hard for a lot of people.

According to research, more than 70 million Americans don’t get the recommended amount of sleep a night. Some of that is certainly lifestyle choices, but for more than you would think, it’s because of problems with sleep – difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep.

So I wanted to be equipped to come alongside people in these places of seemingly hopeless exhaustion and I realized counseling gave me some unique insight into understanding how things in the mental health arena, like anxiety, grief, or depression, and how those can interplay with sleep. Adult sleep coaching seemed to be a natural fit both personally and professionally.

Tell us more about your sleep story and how that led you to become an adult sleep consultant.

In my teenage years, and then especially in my time at the Coast Guard Academy, I joked that I “majored in no sleep” and saw all-nighters as a badge of honor. As an electrical engineering major in college, it was not uncommon to see the early morning hours thanks to some help from Red Bull and Amp. I was so tired all the time at that point that insomnia wasn’t a problem – I could truly fall asleep standing up at any moment.

The year after I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy I hit my first night of true insomnia. I remember arriving at a training center and being exhausted from a 9+ hour drive from Florida that day. I crashed when I got there, but sleep never came.

The insomnia was frequent over the next few years as I worked some crazy shiftwork with the Coast Guard, going from sleeping at night to sleeping during the day and back again, all in the same week.

I was no longer simply a “night owl,” but perpetually exhausted. My insomnia eventually became the norm – it was inevitable that sleep was going to be a challenge every night. I was always thinking about sleep but hated bedtime, so fixing my sleep became a huge focus.

I tried so many different sleep gadgets and techniques to try to “fix” my sleep, including adult swaddles, a mechanical light to help control my breathing, melatonin, a weeklong “sleep reset”, etc. – you name it, I probably tried it. Some things would work for a week or two, but then the insomnia would be back again.

I also had a sleep study done and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. The problem was, however, the CPAP didn’t help. I stopped being able to fall asleep with it on, which defeated the whole point!

I then hit my rock bottom, when I barely slept for an entire week around Christmas time a few years ago. I went into the new year ready to pull out all the stops and tackle this insomnia from every angle.

I went back to a sleep specialist to get a dental appliance to replace the CPAP, met with a nutritionist to deal with any underlying gut or blood sugar issues, re-evaluated my sleep hygiene and morning and evening routines, went through a round of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia, and was able to put a holistic plan in place that brought about great results within about 3-6 months.

If I had to guess, I think it takes me around 15 minutes to fall asleep at night, but I don’t actually know, because I am confident that I will – I just don’t stress about it anymore.

Is my sleep perfect? No. All of us, adults and kids, alike, wake up throughout the night, so there are occasional nights here and there where I do struggle to fall asleep, or I wake in the night and it takes me longer to fall back asleep. But I sleep much more consistently, and on those occasional off nights, I have the tools to handle them so rest continues to be my norm. And those off nights are a lot less bleak and life-disrupting.

In hindsight, I realized with so many of the products and techniques I tried, I was looking for quick fixes; for the one thing that would magically fix my sleep.

But what I’ve found since then is that there’s rarely one “silver bullet” cure for sleep issues. We are complex and sleep is complex, so it actually takes more than just one thing to get the sleep ship back on course.

I didn’t know adult sleep coaching existed when I was struggling with insomnia, so I had to put all of the pieces together myself. As an adult sleep coach now, however, my job is to help you put those pieces together and encourage you along the way, so you too, can finally have restful nights.

Who can you help as an adult sleep coach?

If you are an adult over the age of 18 dealing with insomnia (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up super early), my program will likely be a good fit for you.

There are two exceptions, however:

Exception One: Medical

Several sleep conditions must be treated by appropriate medical professionals, including sleep apnea (the most common!), restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy. If you have, or think you have any of these conditions but are not adequately treating them, then adult sleep coaching likely isn’t a great fit for you.

That being said, if you have one of the above conditions but are getting medical help and have them under control, you may still be dealing with insomnia (like I was!). So if that’s the case, our adult sleep coaching program may still be a good fit to help you resolve the secondary insomnia.

Exception Two: Motivation

If you are currently unable or unwilling to make the necessary changes to get good sleep, working with an adult sleep coach won’t be a great fit for you. Our plans are three months long, so they do not offer an overnight solution to your sleep problems because change takes time, consistency, and follow-through.

If you are ready to work with an adult sleep coach, or if you’re unsure if working with one would be a good fit for you I’d love to chat on a (free) discovery call to learn more. We will discuss your current sleep rhythms and challenges as well as what your goals are, and from there we’ll chat about what it would look loike to work together.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

When it comes to most things in life, including sleep, you need someone in your corner; change is more possible when you have people in your corner!

When you work with an adult sleep coach, you have a built-in guide who can provide an objective and experienced set of eyes on your situation, and an encourager/accountability partner to walk with you along the way.

Finally, my goal is to work myself out of a job. I want to help you not just address your present sleep challenges, but I also want to equip you to feel confident that you’ll be able to handle any disruptions to your sleep in the future.

Conclusion

If you’ve been struggling with insomnia for any length of time, you’re not only exhausted but feeling defeated. It might seem like sleep just isn’t going to happen for you – this is just “how it’s got to be.”

Kathryn is joining the Via Graces team as an adult sleep coach to encourage you that sleep IS possible again! With a personalized plan, consistency, and encouragement, you, too, can go from being exhausted yet unable to sleep, to confidently sleeping again and feeling well-rested each morning.

If you’re interested in learning more about what it could look like to work with an adult sleep coach, check out our website here!