SleepCogni 5 Reasons Why I got Involved

Over the past year and a bit I have been involved with SleepCogni, a project that came from an idea of trying to find a solution to the problem of insomnia. The project has hit Kickstarter this week and I wanted to discuss why, from my point of view I got involved.

To Check Out the Kickstarter campaign click here


1. Healthcare systems around the world spend billions on a solution that doesn’t really work and doesn’t give long term sufferers the solution they crave. CBTi (cognitive Behaviour for insomnia) is seen as the gold standard solution for insomniacs but there are not enough practitioners to be able to help all the sleep sufferers out there. When the inventor of SleepCogni Richard Mills came to me and explained that as an insomniac himself he was fed up with the condition and with sleeping pills and that he wanted to develop a product based on CBTi my interest was piqued.

2. A lot of products that claim to measure sleep patterns are not very accurate. Most sleep measurement products out there use an accelerometer to decide which part of the sleep cycle you are in. The problem with this is that you end up with quite a wide algorithm; and something which is measuring movement rather than sleep. We wanted to add heart rate, skin temperature and response time to an accelerometer to give a more accurate indication of where you are in your sleep cycle.

3. Lots of products and apps, from Sleepcycle, to Fitbit, to Sense to jawbone can tell you that you are not sleeping but do not offer you a solution. They will say last night you had 5 hours, or you have a sleep score of 5 and not give you a solution, beyond basic sleep hygiene advice to solve your issue. SleepCogni’s aim is to give you a pre sleep routine that is unique to you and your physiological condition to give you a solution to any sleep issues you might be having.

4. The credibility of the team. From the founder Richard (who has already developed a healthcare product, with the Swellaway), to Dr Irshaad Ebrahim the Medical Director of The London sleep Clinic, to Dr Mann Van Der Werken, a leading figure in the world of chronobiology and the head of our work around light and sleep and not forgetting Martyn Ware, legendary member of bands such as Human League and Heaven 17 and also a renowned authority on Soundscapes, who has led the aural aspect of the SleepCogni. Every member brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to creating a product that wants to change the world.

5. The clinically driven approach to developing the product. As someone who has developed and sold sleep products for many years one of my bug bears is the lack of science and medical knowledge that goes into the development process. From the start Richard made it clear that this would be a process of clinically proving the claims we are making. Our first small pilot study in conjunction with Sheffield Hallam has shown that it improved the sleep of 1 in 2 of the participants who took part. As we move through the development process we will continue to carry out clinical testing with our partners at Sheffield Hallam University.


Insomnia, sleep, health tech
Some Of The Sleep Cogni Team L-R Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, Richard Mills, James Bird & Me!!

Waking up in the Night-A New Tip

So the sleep Issue I have, the one that drove me to become a practitioner is that I wake early and struggle to go back to sleep. I pretty much have it under control now but from time to time it flares up. 

At the moment my sleep environment has changed as baby sleep geek Is still in with us (which I love) but it means I can’t have the radio on; this how I used to deal with it.

I have tried other techniques such as “the”technique which does work but its effectiveness wares off as you get used to it.

So there I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review about the effect blue light on sleep (as you do;) in it was a great little technique for dealing with waking up in the night.  To stop the negative thoughts popping into your brain repeat a line out of a song! I have tried it a few times and it works. The beauty is unlike other techniques it has loads of different possibilities so you can’t get used to the technique. One tip: make sure the song has happy or neutral memories for you. Something that links to a sad time won’t work!

The line I went for?

“Screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways….”

From Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen.

Let me know what you go for!
Sleep Well
The Sleep Geek 

If You Do One Thing-Eat Breakfast!!

On Tuesday morning I was up bright and early to go to a Health and Wellness event organised by Benchmark Recruitment. I was set up in a corner and dispensed sleep knowledge to all and sundry. The real striking thing was the amount of people who did not have breakfast first thing in the morning.

So why is breakfast so important, you may ask? Well firstly you have just slept for between 6 and 9 hours and your body has had no fuel in all that time. If you wait another 2 to 3 hours to have breakfast your body starts to get stressed as it begins to believe there are no food sources available and looks to use cortisol (a stress hormone) to fuel itself. This will lead you to have peaks and troughs of energy throughout the day and ensures you will crave sugary foods and caffeine. Having breakfast within half an hour of sleep tells your body food is in plentiful supply so it doesn’t become chemically unbalanced. In addition to this giving your body food at the same time everyday conditions your body’s metabolism to know when to wake up and wind down. This means it knows when sleep is coming and you will therefore sleep better. So there you go, why breakfast is so important for sleep.

Hope This Helps

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek

We Are The Grumpiest Country In The Western World!!

Hello Sleep Lovers!!

Today I was asked to go BBC Radio Leeds to talk about some information that Sleep Cycle, an App for your smartphone, have released. Sleep Cycle have analysed their users to offer us some insight as to how different people in the world sleep. Radio Leeds wanted to discuss why we in the UK are the Grumpiest nation in the Western Hemisphere when we wake up in the morning.

  • I think the main reason is that we don’t give sleep the respect it deserves and  we don’t take the time, particularly in the Pre-Sleep period to wind down properly. We are obsessed by the quantity of sleep we get where we would be better thinking about the quality. My tips so you don’t feel grumpy are:
  • Give yourself an hour before bed where you don’t use tablets or smartphones. The blue light they omit disrupts the production of melatonin the hormone that helps us sleep. Alternatively use a blue light blocker such as
  • Watch some comedy on TV- I find comedy is brilliant to help you wind down. It helps us relax and puts us in the right frame of mind to sleep well
  • Ditch the clock- Clock watching adds to our stress levels and we can find ourselves counting down to the morning. If you bed to use an alarm put the clock out of your eyeline.
  • Wake up with natural lights-This is the best way to wake up as it brings you into the lightest stage of slee meaning you feel better when you wake. Waking with an alarm can wake you when you are in the deepest stage of sleep meaning you feel groggy and grumpy.
  • Be positive- research shows if we feel our sleep was good we will feel better during the day

There you go, my thoughts on how not to be grumpy. Let me know what you think!

Sleep Well

The Sleep Geek

There Are No Such Things As Monsters

Another train journey and another blog for all you sleep lovers out there.

Today’s topic? Monsters. Monsters under the bed. Monsters in the wardrobe. Monster behind the curtains.

For many kids the fear of monsters is real. As parents many of us deal with this problem by making monster Ray guns out of washing up bottles to kill them. Or check the bedroom for monsters. Or tell them that this magic pillow protects you from monsters.

The problem with this is that it is saying

“monsters are real. But it is ok your bedroom is a monster free zone”

This means the fear doesn’t go it is just soothed.

The best thing to do I hear you ask. Tell your little one monster are not real. Because they are not. Hopefully a couple of weeks of this response and monsters will disappear from their thoughts.

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek

All Night Long-Night Lights and Light Sources

Most parents have done it, crept into their little one’s room and turned off the night light; just in case it wakes them up. It makes sense right? It does, but changing your little one’s sleep environment so significantly can lead to them waking in the middle of the night, scared and confused!!

Think about it, they go to sleep in a room lit by a dull warm glow and wake in the pitch black struggling to make out the shapes of their room. Rather than drifting off back to sleep they let you know things have changed, normally quite vocally!!

In the work I do with The Children’s Sleep Charity we find this simple measure can help kids sleep better. This also applies to any toys or sleep aids that use light (or sound) to soothe you Little One to sleep. If they can’t stay on all night think whether they are suitable in the bedroom!

So remember as Lionel Ritchie said leave the Night Light on “All Night Long”

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek

3 Easy Ways To Make Your Sleep Better

Hello to those who are looking for the answer to their sleep problems.Here is a short blog with some quick and easy things you can do to help you sleep better.

1. Eat Breakfast

Doing this within 30 minutes of waking up ensures that your body gets enough energy to kick start your day. A failure to eat breakfast (and we often see this in those who struggle to get to sleep) means your body will begin to crave sugar and caffeine to give it an energy boost and this will mean that you begin a cycle of ups and downs in your energy levels leaving you chasing caffeine and sugar all day. Dr Neerina Ramlakhan, the author of Tired but Wired (a great book, I would recommend anyone interested in sleep issues to read it) says this about breakfast

“There are these fallacies swirling around that not eating before bed, or not eating lettuce or tuna, can help you sleep,” says Ramlakhan. “But it’s more crucial that you eat breakfast first thing in the morning, in what I call a ‘metabolic window’. It’s a timeframe in which you can give your body an important message. It tells it that in your world there is an adequate supply of food, it can relax, and that it can fall into sleep mode when it needs to.”

Remember when you are having breakfast try and steer clear of cereals that are full of sugar!

2. Don’t Exercise Too Close To Bedtime

This one is quite apt as many of us are charging back to the gym to burn off the pounds we have added over Christmas! Due to the pressures of life many of us work out late into the evening, especially since the advent of 24 hour gyms such as Pure Gym. This means many of us come home late from exercising feeling pretty tired and go straight to bed. You may then find that the sleep you get is pretty bad, with lots of tossing and turning. If you do this you haven’t given your body enough time to wind down, to prepare itself to sleep and to release Melatonin, the hormone that helps your body sleep.

My advice would be to give yourself 2-3 hours after exercise to wind down. You can help this process by doing something that relaxes you; maybe read a book, (nothing too exciting though!) listen to the radio or watch a comedy programme. You can help the production of Melatonin by having a food rich in Tryptophan, such as a banana as you finish exercising. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to Serotonin which help in the production of Melatonin.

Follow this advice and you will sleep better after exercise, which will mean you will recover better. This is because the quality of your deep sleep will improve and this is the sleep stage your muscles repair themselves during sleep.

3. Put Down The Phone! Or The Tablet!

When people talk to me about their sleep issues smartphones and tablets usually comes up. They are bad for two reasons. Firstly when you are on social media or playing a game your brain is in work mode. This means it needs a wind down period before you go to sleep, to allow it to switch off and realise it is time for shut eye.

In addition to this smartphones and tablets emit blue light as do TV’s and other light emitting devices. The issue with smartphones and tablets is that the light source is so close to the eye, ensuring the affects are far greater than from a TV for example. For more info on this have a look at this research here from

To minimise the affects blue light has on you why not try the nifty Twilight App if you have an Android device o f.lux for Apple Devices and PC’s. These reduce your exposure to blue light.

Give these three tips a try and I am sure you will see an improvement in your sleep.

Sleep Well

The Sleep Geek

I’m Back!!

Hello, I am back!!! What with it being a New Year I have decided to reignite this blog, and will be commenting on all things sleep as often as I can. There will be advice and tips on how to sleep well, on how to buy the right product for your sleep issues, on sleep stories in the news and updates on the exciting projects I am involved in. Here is hoping to sweet dreams in 2015

lady napping web
Someone sleeping well. Which is what I will help you to do!


Sheffield College and Sleep

James Wilson-We Love Sleep
Me: I Love Talking About Sleep

As you probably realise, I love talking about sleep. I will go near and far for an audience who are willing to listen for a while to me give me thoughts and advice on how to sleep better. My latest audience were the Students at Sheffield College, or more specifically those at the Hillsborough and Norton Campuses. The main aim of my talk was to highlight the importance of sleep to them and how a healthy sleep routine can give you a real advantage when it comes to exam time. They got really involved and it was interesting how many of them actually, suffered form Sleep Problems. There is this perception that teenagers are lazy and spend all their time in bed. In their defence they do need more sleep than us, and with their hormones, coursework and in many cases jobs they have very stressed lives. So the next time a teenager complains about being tired, show them some understanding, and point them in my direction. I think Sheffield College should be applauded for taking the sleep of their students seriously as getting sleep onto the National Curriculum in the UK is a personal crusade of mine.
We were lucky enough to have lots of media interest and both Look North and the Sheffield Star have videoed the talks. (I amy even get them up on Youtube if I ever work out how to make the video a smaller file size!) It is brilliant that the media take notice of these type of events, the more I can get in the media and help people to see the importance of sleep the quicker Britain will be sleeping better.
For some tips about sleep and revision please see my blog post from last May here

Sleeping Separately-Why Not Try And Solve The Problem?

So the second part of my thoughts on the article in the Daily Mail. I have a real issue with the idea that sleeping separately is the super cure for sleep problems. It seems to be a popular topic amongst journalists and I know it is something that Dr. Stanley advocates on a regular basis. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with sleeping separately if that is what you want to do (remember, and I know I say this a LOT, but we are all individuals) and you have the spac

Sleeping Together
See, this picture proves my theory to be true. They obviously Love sleeping together!

e for both partners to have your own bedrooms, but don’t feel it is your only choice. You could always try solving the problem; for example if one of you is a snorer get some good advice from someone who knows what they are talking about (such as me), work out what kind of snoring you suffer from and try some of the snoring solutions that are available. Whatever the sleep problem is that is preventing both of you from sleeping soundly there will be something that could be done, you could start by making an appointment at our Sleep Centre

My feelings also come from the fact that from my experience a sense of security is one of the must-haves to get a good night’s sleep and for many of us that sense of security comes from our partner being in bed with us. I know that when my partner Katie is not there I sleep much worse and the sleep I get is of poorer quality. We evolved as an animal sleeping in groups (when we lived in caves we slept together for warmth and security) and therefore we are on the most part genetically programmed to keep those we love close to us. I must stress that I am not saying you must sleep together, if you are both happy with it then to coin a phrase, fill your boots! But if you sleep better together and want too then don’t let newspaper articles and sleep experts put you off.

Sweet Dreams zzzzzz