Learn how to sleep better without drugs

Kerstin Schneiderbauer, a freelance data analyst, was having trouble sleeping.

Her mind would keep running through her work and to-do lists throughout the night when she was overloaded with projects. When she wasn't working through an assignment, worrying about where the next one was coming from interrupted her night's rest.

When a friend recommended a sleep coach, Schneiderbauer initially resisted.

"I thought, who needs a coach? I'll keep talking to my husband about it. But I had been doing that for a year and a half," said Schneiderbauer, who lives near Vienna, Austria.

She feared a coach would do nothing but give her a list of dos and don'ts to follow.

To her surprise, her first session with sleep coach Christina Stefan wasn't so straightforward.

The session was more like career, life and sleep coaching rolled into one.

Stefan wasn't telling Schneiderbauer what to do.

"She was asking questions, also about my family," she said. Her primary problem was not being able to shut down from work.

"I never really closed the office door in a metaphorical sense."

After five of her 10 sessions, Schneiderbauer was sleeping better.

She had learned a visual imaging technique for calming herself if she was awake at night and changed key habits that became apparent after keeping a sleep log.

For starters, Schneiderbauer began writing down in the evenings all her work to-dos for the next day so she could switch gears, and expressing worries about work was banned from evening conversation.

Almost half of us don't sleep well: 45 per cent of the world's population is impacted by sleep problems that threaten health and quality of life, according to the organisers of World Sleep Day, citing a 2008 study.

And the health impacts are serious.

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