By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TVBy Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Getting used to the clocks moving back can make a good night’s sleep nothing more than a dream.

Thirty percent of men and 40% of women report some problem getting a decent night’s rest even when there isn’t this change of schedule. There are strategies, however, for sleeping better for people of all ages.

New mom Julia Howland said her daughter Eva was a very alert baby from the start. Her lack of a regular sleep schedule put a stress on the entire family.

“We had a hard time balancing our marriage and our careers with parenthood,” added Howland.

After ruling out any medical conditions, the Howlands decided to hire a sleep coach.

Linda Szmulewitz came to their home to gather information about Eva’s sleep history and other patterns of her life. Out of observations like these, a sleep coach will develop a custom tailored sleep plan.

Szmulewitz explained, “There are only a specific number of ways to change sleep behavior, due to the fact that it’s based on behavior modification, and it’s based on being very consistent and being consistent over a certain period of time.”

The key to success is sticking to the plan. Howland said it was very helpful to have a detailed plan for Eva and to be able to follow up with questions.

Sleep coaches are primarily used with children and focus on changing behavior early in life. There are steps adults can take to make sure they’re not sabotaging a good night’s sleep.

Reconsider a glass of wine, or any alcoholic beverage, before bed time. It may help put you to sleep, but it will be a more restless sleep and you won’t wake up feeling refreshed.

Think about the snacks you eat at night. Many foods have trace amounts of caffeine, like chocolate.

Set your body clock to a regular schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Put away all those electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Not only can the information stimulate your mind, but the glow of these gadgets can interrupt the brain’s production of the hormone which winds us down.

For the Howland family, addressing their sleep problems was a lifesaver. “From my perspective, doing this was really an important way to balance the needs of every member of our family,” said Julia.

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