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Who is the Sleep Geek?

Who is the Sleep Geek?

I am James Wilson and I am a Sleep Behaviour and Sleep Environment Expert.

As the 3rd generation of my family to be involved in the production of sleep products it was embarrassing to share with people that I suffered from insomnia. From my earliest memory I couldn’t sleep. Finally in my mid-twenties I found the drive to solve my problem and that led to me training as a practitioner to help others.

As well as helping people sleep better, I help companies produce products, services and environments that help people get the sleep they deserve through my company The Sleep Lab. This gives me a unique understanding of sleep and makes me one of a kind as a practitioner.

I trained with The Children's Sleep Charity and I currently help them deliver their services across the UK; helping children and their families sleep better and training healthcare professionals in providing sleep support.

Alongside this I work as a private practitioner and I have a wide range of experience. I have worked with: Babies, Children, Adults, Professionals and Sports People & Teams.

I take an approach that is tailored to the individual and look at ensuring the sleep environment is right, that the pre sleep routine is perfect so the individual will be relaxed before bed.

I act as a spokesperson for issues around sleep and I am a Sleep Ambassador for BetterYou and Westfield Health tallking about sleep on their behalf and helping their cusotmers understand sleep. I also work with them developing products and services that solve people's sleep issues.

If you are a company who would like to work with me please send an e-mail to



Sleep Counselling

I offer a number of sleep counselling options to help you and/or your loved ones get much needed help.

I offer a number of web based services tailored to your particular issues. I can also offer face to face counselling sessions, which can take place at my offic in Sheffield or in your own home. (travel expenses will apply.) For more details of my face to face counselling please e-mail

How it Works

You pick the package that suits you best and place an order via the easy online ordering system. I will then be in touch wth the resources that will help me work out where your sleep is now.

The next step is for me to put together a sleep guide (for babies) or a sleep programme (for kids, teens and adults).

If you require extra support you can pick a 6 week e-mail support package or a support package that lasts for a whole year.

I am proud to work with

Working with companies who are as committed to solving the nation's sleep issues as I am is very important to me....


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Sleep Blog

Lots of Sleep Geeky Thoughts

This Mattress Will Change Your Life

This Mattress Will Change Your Life

The title says it all. Some of the claims by these new-fangled one product mattress offerings that are creating lots of consumer, and investor interest are misplaced and, dare I say it, a little misleading. So let’s have a look at some of their claims.

They Save You Money

For a start most of them claim that they are doing you, the consumer, a favour by cutting out that pesky retailer who adds loads of money onto the cost of your mattress. They tell you this means they are giving you a better price than your local bed shop could for a similar product. Well I can tell you that most of the well-known one mattress offerings, Eve, Simba, Leesa, are getting their mattresses made by well-established mattress manufacturers. One by Made is the only one of the well-known brands offering a direct to market mattress whose manufacturer I don’t know. When I rang their customer line they told me it was made in the UK and I have been told it is being made by a UK manufacturer but I haven’t been able to confirm either of these things.
These companies are retailers, just like your local bed shop and what they don’t spend on premises and staff costs they spend on online marketing.
We've Developed The Perfect Mattress- So It Will Be Just Right For You
Whether their claim is;

“We’ve tried all the mattresses so you don’t have to” (they haven’t.)

“99% of people will love this mattress” (seriously, they won’t, some people will, some people won’t but it will not be 99%.)

“We have profiled 10 million people to develop this mattress” (well done but this is irrelevant, you can test every single person in the world it doesn’t mean the mattress will be right for me.)

They are trying to convince you to give it a go. The most surprising thing about these offerings is that they are all so similar. Eve, Leesa, Caspar and The One all have the same materials and similar construction. The quality may differ but I would guess they are all not that different in terms of feel and support.
But don’t think I am hammering these companies for the sake of it. I am just trying to shine a light behind the marketing and spin, the sizzle these companies are putting on their offerings. The mattress industry is unique in that pretty much all the products look the same and you only have the company’s marketing to know whether a mattress will do what it claims

So, Why Would You Buy One?

The massive, absolutely industry changing part of their offering is their money back guarantees. I love the idea of giving people a chance to try a mattress in their home. Lying on the mattress for 20 minutes in a shop does not replicate a month’s worth of sleeping on the mattress every night and it gives consumers a real chance to make sure the mattress is right for them. Bed shops who do not let you bring the mattress back will tell you that trying in the shop will tell you what you don’t like about the mattress. That’s great, but it won’t help you decide if the mattress is right for you, night after night.

So this is how I would use them if I was a consumer. If you want an alright mattress, you don’t have any particular sleep issues (such as allergies, back problems or temperature issues) and you don’t mind paying a little bit more than for a similar mattress from a traditional bed store then I would give it a go. And if you don’t like it and it doesn’t offer what you need then make sure you send it back.
There you go, don’t listen to most of the marketing speak they are throwing at you, but if you want an ok mattress and don’t have any particular sleep issues then this mattress might be the one for you. But it isn’t as life changing as they are making out.

Hope this helps!

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek


How Sleep Helps Footballers Perform Better

How Sleep Helps Footballers Perform Better

As footballers return from their pre-season break many of them have had to stick to a rigorous nutrition and exercise plan. But what about the other building block of excellence at the elite level, sleep? How many footballers had a sleep plan during the off season? Not many I would guess. Is this because they don’t really have a sleep plan during the season either?

It is recognised that sleep is one of the most effective recovery tools that coaches have for their players. Many sports teams boast about taking sleep seriously but for most this involves someone supplying the same mattress to the entire squad and general advice around sleep. For optimum performance all sports people should have an individual sleep environment analysis, their own personal sleep profile should be taken into account and the amount of sleep they actually need should be tracked. Their sleep environment should be just right for them and whoever they share their room with. Many players also need support ensuring their kids sleep. If a player has a baby during the season they should have support from a baby sleep specialist to help baby, mum and dad sleep well!

Each player should then have a sleep training schedule that takes into account what time games will be played. For example to get players through night games they are given strong caffeine tablets that can affect their sleep for the night after the game and even one or two nights after. Having the right experts as part of a team’s coaching staff ensures sleep is considered when designing a player’s schedule.

Working with a professional team, including a sleep environment expert, a CBT-I expert and a Chrono biologist can help teams gain an advantage over the competition.

Sleep and sport is a new area of sleep support and professional teams need to ensure they have a team working with them that takes a well-rounded scientific approach. The 3 R’s apply to sports people as much as anyone else.

A ROUTINE that works for their sleep type and their match schedule.

A RESTFUL ENVIRONMENT that is right for their, and their partners, sleep profile.

And feeling RELAXED. The temperature, light levels and noise levels are right; and their minds are free from the worries of the day.

Want to know more about how I can help sprots teams and people sleep better? drop me an e-mail to


Sleep Hacks. NO NO NO NO NO!

Sleep Hacks. NO NO NO NO NO!

One thing that is really getting on my wick right now is the idea that we can hack sleep. The idea that you can “cheat” or “trick” sleep seems to be the preserve of Tim Ferris (don’t know who he is? Look him up) wannabees who think they can spin a shortcut to a better night’s sleep. And you know what? I have probably been guilty of using the phrase at times. Maybe I was asked to provide a sleep hack by someone interviewing me on radio, or a blog I wrote might have used this despicable phrase. But I will say it here and I will say it now. No more sleep hacks!

There are no short cuts to a better night's sleep. It is quite boring. You need to put in place a routine that suits you and leads you to falling asleep at a time your body is tired. There should be environmental and behavioural cues in there and your sleep environment should be conducive to a good night’s sleep. If these two things are right then it will help you be relaxed. On top of this any negative thoughts around sleep need to be addressed and an experienced sleep practitioner can help you address any negativity around bedtime and your bedroom.

If you are interested in getting a better night’s sleep, overcoming insomnia or creating the perfect sleep environment then please drop me a line,

Sleep Well

The Sleep Geek


Helping Babies (and parents) Sleep Better

Helping Babies (and parents) Sleep Better

This last week I have had the immense pleasure of visiting the Mamas &Papas store at the Trafford Centre to give a talk all about babies and how they sleep on behalf of The Children’s Sleep Charity. It really is an amazing experience to be able to help mums and dads, before they start their journey into parenthood, understand how their baby will sleep and how best they can prepare themselves and support their baby as they develop their sleep cycles.

The charity wanted the opportunity to talk to parents in this way because there was a feeling that parents are dictated to when it comes to sleep. They are told they must, they should, they have to follow this certain parenting style, which encompasses this set of sleep rules and if they deviate from the rules there will be dire consequences.

My feeling is that parents choose how to bring up their children and our job as sleep professionals is to support them in whatever their choice is. We are their support network, their coaches and we are there to help the whole family sleep well, not just the baby. We are not going to put unneeded pressure on them to meet a set of strict criteria, we are going to give them the knowledge to help them understand the importance of sleep to their baby, how to create a safe and peaceful sleep environment and what to expect when it comes to sleep. We can also give some input into the pluses and minuses of different parenting techniques and explain the impact of these techniques on their babies sleep.

By giving parents this advice before their baby arrives they can start to put it in place from the word go. Hopefully this will help their child sleep well as a toddler, as a child, as a teenager and well into adulthood.
Finally thanks to Mamas and Papas for giving The Charity a platform to spread our message about sleep and giving parents the chance to get some support at a time when they can put the advice into practise and have a real impact on their baby’s sleep.

There will be more sessions in July. I will put dates and places up nearer the time, so keep your eyes peeled!

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek


The Loneliness of Insomnia

The Loneliness of Insomnia

The last couple of days there has been lots of coverage about Kim Cattrall and her battle with insomnia which forced her to pull out of performing in the play Linda at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
Yesterday lunch time I went on Radio Leeds with Andrew Edwards to talk about the story. Stories like this give me an opportunity to talk to the media about insomnia, how it is perceived, how it is often seen as a symptom and not a disorder in its own right and how, most importantly, we have no pathway for treatment in the National Health Service.

Kim was lucky, in that in the USA there are thousands of sleep centres that treat sleep issues and disorders. In the UK, if you are suffering from a sleep issue you have very little choice on where to go. If you go to your GP you may get put on sleeping pills. Sleeping pills are a little bit better than pointless, but not much. They are addictive, so are only certified to be used for 3 weeks at a time. They have massive side effects and the quality of sleep they give you is very poor. The clinically proven, gold standard treatment for insomnia, CBT-I (Cognitive Behaviour for Insomnia) is not available, as far as I know, on the NHS.

Until it is available and insomnia sufferers and their families have a clear path to treating their issue then we will have people all over the country going through what Kim Cattrall went through. The loneliness of Insomnia. The dread of bedtime, the feeling of despair when the sun comes up in the morning and you feel you haven’t slept.

A lack of sleep can shorten your life. It means you are more likely to get a plethora of illnesses. We can last longer without food than we can without sleep. Something needs to be done about it.

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek


Can Sleep Solve The Productivity Problem?

Can Sleep Solve The Productivity Problem?

One of the most pressing issues facing the UK is our lack of productivity compared to similar economies. “What has this got to do with sleep “You may ask. Well let me tell you.
Most of us work 9-5. There are some variations but we are often forced into a work day that doesn’t suit our own individual circadian rhythms. Dr. Paul Kelley, from Oxford University argues that our work schedule suits those over 50 most of all and because they are usually the ones running companies they are happy for work to start at 9. They see their younger employees as lazy, as they struggle to get in and function properly at 9. Dr Kelley, advocates a start time of after 10 for the under 50’s and although this is a start I think we should be developing a working day that allows each one of our colleagues to work at times that allows them to be at their most productive.

For example, I am a moderate early type when it comes to waking up in the morning as categorised by this questionnaire from the Centre for Chronobiology at the University of Munich (You can see what Chrono type you are by filling in the questionnaire here.) For me this means that I am my most effective from about 7.30 until 8 and I find it best to do challenging work early in the morning, do things like reply to emails and reading in the middle of the day and finish work earlier. However, some days, especially when Baby Sleep Geek has kept me awake, I find it useful to be able to start later and shift my day round a bit. This flexibility allows me to work more productively and when I am feeling tired shift my day around to suit my sleep. Other variations come into it, for example we are more likely to get less sleep (but feel better) in the summer as the light mornings wake us up so in summer we may find it easier to start earlier, while in winter we may need a later start time as the lack of light in the mornings prevents us from waking up.

So here is my advice to companies. If you want to be seen as a top employer, ditch the fruit, the free alcohol on Fridays and the ping pong table. Give you staff a work schedule that matches their sleep profile and support them by giving them flexibility in their working day. That way they will sleep longer, feel better and work more efficiently.
“And what about workers who have to work certain hours, such as shift workers and retail staff?” You may ask. Well that is for another blog, but I do have a solution!

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek


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


f You Do 1 Thing-Eat Breakfast!!

f You Do 1 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 Supposedly The Grumpiest Nation In The Western World

We Are Supposedly The Grumpiest Nation 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


Night Lights & Light Sources

Night Lights & 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