There are coaches for everything these days—life, relationships, business, and now sleep.

“Sleep coaches” often visit your home, offering suggestions about your bedroom environment (such as using dark curtains) and giving advice on your sleep habits (such as banning electronic devices in the bedroom before bedtime), says Mar Oscategui, founder of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants. 

Though that’s advice many people could follow on their own, hiring a coach might motivate some to be more serious about making changes, Oscategui says. Coaches usually charge from $75 to $150 per hour—and their services aren’t covered by insurance.

But Shalini Paruthi, M.D., director of the Pediatric Sleep and Research Center at St. Louis University and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says, “There’s little evidence that people who hire these coaches actually sleep better.” A recent review in the Journal of Pediatrics found that less than half of self-proclaimed sleep coaches had prior experience in health care or education. The study also pointed out that the coaches are not required to be licensed or to have any specific certification.

Paruthi recommends instead consulting with your doctor, who can determine whether you should be referred to a therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

These materials were made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by a multistate settlement of consumer fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).