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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 Environment Expert who has, with a supporting team of other experts, developed an approach that helps people understand their sleep better, and assist them in making the changes to their mindset, behaviours and environment that can lead to better sleep.


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. For as long as I could remember, I struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep. 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. I am committed to improving the quality of sleep services for poor sleepers in the UK and raising the awareness of the massive impact poor sleep has on our emotional and physical wellbeing.

I currently work with organisation and sports teams, running seminars and drop-in sessions that deliver important and applicable information about sleep in an entertaining and engaging way. Clients have included Coca Cola Hellenic, Zurich Insurance, Pret a Manger, DFDS, Ernst & Young, national governments and sports teams such as Lincoln City, Rotherham United and Sheffield United, who all achieved promotion in the seasons I worked with them.

My clear and simple messages and engaging delivery mean that I work extensively in the media, making regular appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV's This Morning and on national and local radio. I was one of 4 experts on Channel 4's The Secret of Sleep, a 3-part documentary series, and I have worked extensively across digital and print media.

As well as helping people sleep better, I help develop products, services and environments that help people get the sleep they deserve through the company I co-founded, The Sleep Lab. At the Sleep Lab we are committed to improve accessibility and affordability of sleep solutions.





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.

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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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Lots of Sleep Geeky Thoughts

Does Your Mattress Do What It Says It Does?

Does Your Mattress Do What It Says It Does?

The Most Important Questions to Ask When Buying A Mattress

So, you need a new mattress? I’ve asked that question a lot in my life because – believe it or not – I used to be a mattress salesman. Spending 6 years in a showroom full of beds (and working in the industry for over 20 years) has taught me a thing or two about the mattress industry. The headline is: there’s a lot of sizzle and very little sausage. And by that, I mean, you’ll find mattresses ranging from £100 to £20,000 that all claim they’ll solve all your sleeping woes. I’m not even sure how that’s possible! With that in mind, how do you pick a mattress that is right for you? Here are some questions to ask…

Will this mattress help to regulate my temperature?

The two biggest factors effecting sleep are anxiety and temperature. A mattress can’t help too much with stress (although a horribly uncomfortable one won’t help), but it can help when it comes to temperature regulation. And I don’t mean the temperature in your bedroom, I mean the temperature in between your duvet and your mattress – after all, that’s where you sleep! People who suffer from parasomnias (sleep walking, night terrors etc.) have a lot of trouble with temperature regulation, so this is an important issue to get right. You need a drop in core temperature to fall asleep. There is a misconception that you need to be swaddled up in blankets, but the only reason this makes you sleepy is because your body is fighting to cool you down, so your temperature drops and you fall asleep. But, it won’t be for long because those blankets will be heating you up and you’ll wake up again. What you need instead is a mattress made of natural materials with springs that encourages airflow. Natural duvets are also a good call, but if you are a hot sleeepr, feathers and down may not be the best as they are developed to trap heat in.

Are you trying to con me into buying a mattress with made-up benefits?

I have heard rumours of mattresses that respond to your temperature and actively warm you up/cool you down. I have heard of mattresses that can heal sleep ailments. I have heard of mattresses that can help you win the lottery. Only joking! But seriously, a lot of the claims made by the mattress industry would be pretty hard to prove, besides the fact we are all different so have varied mattress needs. If you go into a shop and the sales person is very excited about a particular brand, ask if they are getting commission. Different manufacturers will offer competing levels of commission, so make sure you’re not getting encouraged to buy a certain way to boost the bank account of the sales representative rather than your sleep. The best thing to do is to find a shop that allows you to take the mattress home and test it properly. If they are claiming it does 101 things, then put it to the test. Lying on a mattress in a showroom isn’t going to prove anything.

Does the mattress support you properly?

The right mattress is the foundation that the rest of our sleep is built upon and making sure the mattress offers you the support you need is extremely important. Feel and support are two different things, a soft mattress can be supportive and a firm mattress can also be supportive. Feel is cultural, it is what we are used to and we are emotionally connected to that feel. Support is whether the mattress will supoport our bodies properly and in particular the parts of our body that are heaviest such as our shoulders or hips. To test whether a mattress supports you properly you should lay on it, on your back, with a pillow behind your head and try and get your hand in the bottom of your back. If it goes in really easily, it isn't supporting you properly, if it won't go in at all, it isn't supporting you properly. You want it to go in with a struggle and for you to be able to wriggle your fingers a little. That ladies and gentleman is the Goldilocks Test!

Is this mattress covered in chemicals?

In the UK the fire regulations for furniture are super stringent. This is because in the 1979 a big Woolworths set on fire and people died because of the toxic foam in the budget sofas. Following this, the UK established some of the strictest fire regulations in the world. Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, not so fast, the jury is still out on this one. Some people argue that these chemicals are vital in reducing housefire deaths, whilst others argue that the few extra minutes they allow for escape can’t possibly outweigh the danger these toxic chemicals pose, both whilst sat in the mattress and when burnt. Many of the chemicals used in mattress production are very close in nature to pesticides and insecticides. But, regardless of whether they are a good or a bad idea, the main issue is that it is actually quite hard to find out what it is exactly that is in your mattress. For example, mattresses branded “organic” and “natural” very often still include chemicals because the labelling only applies to the cotton used not the actual mattress. And if you suffer with fibromyalgia or multiple chemical sensitivity, this branding can fool you into thinking these mattresses are safe. So, what to do? In the long term, campaigning the industry to include an ingredients list would be very helpful. But for now, make sure you ask the sales person what exactly is in the mattress; if it claims to be organic ask what sort of certification is has, and if it claims to be natural ask if it is still treated with chemicals.


I would love to hear about your experiences with your mattresses. Have you bought one that claims to regulate your temperature, but you still find yourself overheating? Do you have an organic mattress that you think has chemicals in? Have you experienced an over exited sales person who ignores your individual needs? Have you been sold a mattress that doesn't support you properly?


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Mattresses & Elite Athletes

Mattresses & Elite Athletes

The press furore about the Belgian World Cup Squad being announced via a TV news report about their mattresses has focused on the massive gaffe that occurred. What I found most interesting is that from the report it was clear they were sleeping in bed in a box mattress which are usually made from foam.


From my experience of working with elite athletes they are often sleeping on mattresses and under duvets inappropriate for them when it comes to temperature regulation. There has always been a popular misconception that foam, memory or latex mattresses are better for sports people because they offer superior support. However, what they also do, due to elite athletes having a higher metabolic rate they are more prone to being hot sleepers in the night and a mattress with a solid construct, or even a topper of foam or latex can make this problem worse. You may be thinking, “but James you can new dangled foams and processes that help keep you cool.” You would be kind of right. Products like Gel Foam and Castellated reflex foam mattresses (which we often branded as sports mattresses) are better than traditional memory foam. However, from my experience they are nowhere near as efficient at wicking away moisture and creating a sleep environment conducive to a good night’s sleep as a mattress that uses springs and natural fillings in its construction.


If support is an issue then a sportsperson can use an adjustable bed to create a sleep surface that is supportive, and it can be adjusted to support the injury in question.


What also concerns me is when sports teams sign sponsorship deals with a mattress manufacturer. To be honest I am sure the players don't all use the mattress that the club has signed the sponsorship deal with, in the same way that Manchester United's first team squad don't all drive Chevrolets, but the idea that a squad of elite athletes should all sleep on the same mattress is frankly ridiculous. Elite athletes should avid working direct with mattress brands as they don't have the knowledge to advise what is best for them. In addition to this sleep experts working with elite athletes shouldn’t work with one kind, or brand of mattress. When we are creating the right sleep environment for the individual athlete we need to focus on them as an individual.


It is often said that sleep is an athlete's number one recovery tool. The foundation that the sleep is built on is the mattress and there is no one size fits all solution to which mattress is best for sports people.


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The London Marathon-How sleep is one of the Variables of Victory

The London Marathon-How sleep is one of the Variables of Victory

On Sunday over 40,000 people will run the London Marathon and it will be the culmination of weeks and weeks of gruelling training. Sleep is often forgot about when it comes to training for such a challenging event, as most of the athletes will be semi pro and will have been fitting training in around work and family life.


This means that as they try to fit in more and more training the space they are giving to sleep gets less and less, the quality of their sleep diminishes and the benefit they get from their training reduces, their ability to stick to their nutrition plan is inhibited and their chances of getting injured increases.
That is why it was great that New Balance asked me to contribute to their Variables of Victory programme, where they have asked health experts to give runners in the London Marathon some easy to apply tips and techniques to improving their training before the event.


If you are a competitor in the marathon and are worrying about your sleep on Saturday night my advice would be do not worry. When working with elite athletes I accept they might not sleep great the night before the event, but they always put in a high-level performance. If you are staying in a hotel the night before the event, take your own pillow, have a bath or shower 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep. Most importantly do not go to bed early and only go to bed when you are tired!


For anyone competing in the London Marathon, or any sporting event over the summer, check out my advice on the New Balance website here


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2018 needs to be the year of

2018 needs to be the year of

I was on BBC Radio Manchester this morning, talking about some sleep research from Kings College in London that says, depending on which newspaper you read, that an extra 20 or 90 minutes sleep will help you lose weight. You can read about the research here


Now we already know that a lack of sleep can lead us to craving sugary food; basically, if you are not getting your energy from sleep your body looks for other quick sources of energy and turn to things like sugar and caffeine. So, it makes sense that better sleep leads to us craving these things less and this can lead to weight loss.


This shows the research isn’t wrong, although it was carried out on an incredibly small amount of people. What it is though, is a massive waste of money. It hasn’t moved our understanding of sleep on, there are no great insights from it and as sleep is not something that can be forced, so therefore we can’t make ourselves get 20, or 90 minutes more sleep it is not even something we can do. In fact, for many poor sleepers who are getting insufficient sleep all this kind of research does is make them worry more. And what is the biggest inhibitor of sleep? Stress and anxiety. Therefore research like this isn’t just not really needed, it is in fact probably contributing to poor sleepers continuing to sleep poorly. So, yeah, thanks guys!


Most annoyingly it is not the only piece of sleep research this week that tries to connect sleep and weight loss. Sealy, the mattress brand released some research that they claim showed the exact time you should wake up to lose weight (read about it here). Although it wasn’t that exact (between 6-6.59am, which coincidently is the time most of us wake up) it was also a load of bunkum. Now Sealy have done some good things in the past, they recently released a workplace sleep paper that was well put together and had some great advice.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is some great research done into sleep. This research for example, which is looking at how, by understanding circadian rhythms better, we can improve the treatment of brain cancer. This kind of research is amazing and if we are going to fund research it should be this kind of research.


My point is that 2018 has got to be the year of “So What?” when it comes to sleep. I think we have established that lots of us don’t sleep very well and that not sleeping well can have a detrimental impact on our health. When are we going to start funding sleep support for poor sleepers? When are we going to ensure health professionals ae properly trained so they start giving out advice on sleep that is based on proven understanding and techniques, rather than whatever they have done in their own lives.


The research from Kings College probably cost, from my experience, about £15,000. Again, from my experience the cost of helping poor sleepers is about £8 per person and rises to about £95 per person for more chronic sleep issues. For that hypothetical £15,000 we could have helped 1900 poor sleepers or 161 people with more serious sleep issues. Isn’t that what we should be doing?


Imagine how many people Sealy could have helped with the money they spent on the research and promotion of the silly idea that there is a time that you can get up at to help you lose weight. They could have spent that money in their local community, or within their workforce and made a real difference to people who sleep poorly. Instead they decided to produce a piece of research that is only good for clickbait.

Sleep Professionals, sleep practitioners, sleep researchers and sleep brands need to come together and agree that we are going to start trying to solve the sleep issue we face; that we have established that many people don't sleep well, that it is detrimental to our health and that we are going to do something about it. When you read an article about sleep you need to ask yourself; does it answer the most important question of all. "So What?"


I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog, please get in touch!


Sleep Well,


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Ensuring Parents To Be Get The Right Sleep Advice

Ensuring Parents To Be Get The Right Sleep Advice

I am using this Sleep Week to call for Parents to Be to get better sleep advice before their little one arrives and in the first year of baby being with them. We need

New parents and parents to be are massively let down by the health professionals and organisations that are supposed to support them when it comes to sleep. Little Sleep Geek is two and a half and I was astounded at the lack of support and information we got around sleep before she came along.


Our NCT class (and from talking to people all classes seem to be different) rarely mentioned sleep, did not recognise sleep as important to the baby’s development and the only advice we got was a leaflet from ISIS (not that one, the Infant Sleep Information Service) which talked about bed sharing and seemed to be more concerned about feeding than sleep.


My experience was that there is very little advice beyond


“Oooo it is going to be hard for a bit”


It is difficult to fathom why.


Is it that the focus on breastfeeding means health professionals and organisations are scared to discuss sleep as it might put parents off breastfeeding?


Is it that there is no sleep knowledge dispensed when health professionals go through their training?


Maybe it is the fact that most baby and toddler sleep advice is dispensed not by sleep experts or health professionals, but by parenting “experts,” who are usually trying to push a prescriptive and dictatorial parenting style that isn’t about sleep but about getting more parent to do it their way?


Or is it that baby sleep is hard, there are so many factors, all babies develop in different ways and so many conflicting viewpoints that parents just end up dizzy?


These are all factors that have been suggested to me as I travel the country speaking to people about sleep.

Let me be clear this issue comes up time and time again with parents.Whether their child is 6 weeks old or now an adult they remember that time of fear, desperation and lack of support and feel more should be done to help parents.


Can you help?


I would love to hear your stories about the support you got around sleep and your thoughts on how we can help parents to be and new parents get better support and advice when it comes to sleep.

Sleep Well,






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The Clocks They Are A-Changing

The Clocks They Are A-Changing

So, this week is Sleep Week and there is loads of media attention around sleep due to the clocks changing and the fear, the dread, the life changing apocalypse that we are losing an hour’s sleep come Sunday morning. You will see lots and lots of information about how to deal with the clocks changing, whether it is for you, or your children. It will tell you something like


“in the week before the clocks change move sleep time backward by 15 minutes everyday”

And you know what, it is a load of rubbish, and I should know, I have written such articles numerous times over the last couple of years. After last years I sat down, thought does an hour really make a difference, talked to some sleep experts far more knowledgeable than me and concluded that:


The worry about losing an hour’s sleep is more likely to Impact on your sleep than the actual lost hour.


Think of it like this. The lay in you (and your children) are having every weekend is having a far greater long-term impact on your (or their) sleep than the clocks changing. Worrying about the lost hour, will only lead to increased stress around bedtime and this leads leads to an increase in adrenaline and cortisol which inhibits Melatonin (the hormone that helps us sleep) production. Also going to bed earlier is hard to do and it might not fit your sleep type, so all you end up doing is laying in bed worrying about not sleeping.


My advice would be, get up at the same time every day including weekends and don’t worry too much about the clocks changing. Whether it is you, or your kids the lost hour will only take for most of us a day or two to get over.


Let me know your thoughts and Sleep Well!


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Your Mattress Should Have a List of Ingredients

Your Mattress Should Have a List of Ingredients

Although mattresses have changed very little over the past century, the way they are perceived and undoubtedly marketed, has changed.

As the importance of sleep to our overall health has become more obvious, the view of what mattresses are for has changed, from a functional item and in many ways the least important piece of furniture we own (no one ever sees your mattress, so it is a commodity, it does not matter) but now, with more and more recognition of sleep been an important factor in our health they have seen an opportunity; to sell you that same functional product but wrap it up in the sizzle of sleep, that your mattress is the magic elixir when it comes to sleeping well. They might be using endorsements from sports people, Gareth Bale, Michael Phelps, Kell Brook and numerous Olympian all endorse a mattress as the one for you, the might get a celebrity to give it a seal of approval, such as Russell Kane with Simba Sleep or, they might, like the tens of "bed in a box" brands out there, tell you that the mattress is just right for everybody (it isn’t, there is no such thing as one mattress for everyone) but actually, despite all this brand innovation there has been very little product innovation.

In fact, I would bet most of us don’t know what is in our mattresses. Not helped by many manufacturers doing their best to muddy the waters when you try and get to the bottom of what is in the product. For example, they come up with their own trademarked names for common components, or don’t tell you in the product description how much of each component material is in the mattress.

Many manufacturers don’t want you to compare their product to the competition on a like for like basis; they want you to listen to their sizzle, to the well-crafted and honed marketing message that will ensnare you into buying their product. If for example I told you that the wool filled mattress you are thinking about buying can, only have 10% wool in the fillings to be classed as a wool mattress. You could be comparing two mattress both claiming to be wool filled and one could have an 80% wool filling and the other could only have 10%? If you are buying it because you get too hot in bed then the difference between the two mattresses could impact on whether the mattress will help solve your problem or not.

How do I know all this? Well I have worked with mattress manufacturers. I have supplied retailers and, 10 years ago attempted to establish a sleep retailer that would have a more truthful relationship with mattress consumers. It did not work but I still stand by the idea that we need to ensure every single one of us gets the bet mattress for US! Not a celebrity, not a sports person, the best one for us!

I believe mattresses are integral to us sleeping well, and picking the right one will impact on the quality and quantity of our sleep. To do this we need to be better informed about the quality of construction of the mattresses that we are considering; we need to know the density, of the foam, the depth of the fillings, what those fillings are, what material the mattress is covered with, is the latex man made or from a natural source, how many springs are in the mattress, the type of spring used and the quality of the metal used in the spring. This means, that as consumers we can then purchase with confidence and buy a mattress that is right for us.

 Therefore, I am calling for a list of ingredients for the mattress you buy. A list that includes the quantity and quality of the fillings, the type of core in the mattress and the quality of that core. I would also like consumers to know what the mattress is covered with and most importantly this information will mean consumers can ask direct and searching questions about the product and how it will impact on their sleep and overall health.

Although many manufacturers worry about revealing what is in their mattresses I think a list of ingredients would help those who make great quality products. Those who put the best raw materials into their products, who care about what customers buy from them and who ensure that their products do what they claim. It will create a real change in the market and allow customers to see the value in the products they are buying.

At the moment, there is no easy way of comparing products. My advice would be to ask as many questions as possible about the mattress you are looking at buying, ask about the fillings, ask how they help the mattress do what it says it does and if the sales person you are talking to cannot tell you then do not buy from them!

As always, I would love to hear people’s views on this!

Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek


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Living with Insomnia

Living with Insomnia

This week’s episode of The Secrets of Sleep focused on insomnia and I thought it might be useful for me to share my experience of living with the condition.

For as long as I can remember I didn’t sleep well. One of my earliest memories is going downstairs and saying I can’t sleep. My dad took me back to bed and told me to close my eyes. I did but still sleep didn’t seem to come!

As I got older it seemed to get worse and worse and my memories of night time in my teenage years is of being awake. But it was normal, surely everyone didn’t sleep?

I vividly remember that feeling of abject terror that I wouldn’t fall asleep and that I would be shattered the next day. The sickness in the pit of my stomach as I counted down the hours to “wake up” time stays with me up to this day.

“If I fall asleep now, I will have had 5 hours sleep”
“If I fall asleep now I will have had 3 hours sleep”
“If I fall asleep now I will have had an hour and a half, I am going to be soooo tired tomorrow!”

If by chance I fell asleep earlier I would religiously recreate the routine from the night before. This might include sleeping at the opposite end of the bed, sleeping on the floor, putting all my cuddly toys in bed with me or thinking about scoring the winning goal at Wembley for Rotherham United.

As I got older I started to fall asleep more easily, drifting off to the TV or radio but would wake to switch it off and often struggled to get back to sleep. I got more sleep, about 3-4 hours, but any time I was under stress, such as at exam time, or issues at work, I would wake really early and that would be it.

I left university and I went to work in the family business. Ironically, I am the third generation of my family to be involved in the Sleep Product industry and I never felt I could really make my sleep issues public. Who would buy a bed off someone who only slept a couple of hours a night? They would never believe what I told them about the products I sold!

The internet was my saviour. I learnt more about sleep and started to apply the things I read online to myself and worked out what worked for me. The real change was accepting that I was a bad sleeper. But also telling myself that I was brilliant at being tired. This mind shift stopped the worry I had around my sleep and led me to be able to sleep better.

But I still struggle to sleep from time to time. Early morning appearances on TV, worries about work and many other things can cause me to have poor sleep. In fact, just this morning I got up at 4.30am as The Little Sleep Geek had a bad cough and she woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Rather than worrying about it I got up and started my day. This approach really works for me, rather than my worries turning a bad night sleep into weeks and weeks of poor sleep I now accept the night of poor sleep and move on. I use the sleep deprivation caused by the poor night’s sleep to sleep better the night after.

It ws my experience of living with the condition, of not even realising there was a solution and how long the process took for me to solve my problem, that inspired me to become a sleep practitioner. I wanted to bring together what I knew about products with my experience of been an insomniac and also my training as a practitioner. I now utilise my unique set of skills to help others who struggle to sleep.

If you would like to find out how I could help you or a member of your family sleep better, please see the links below.


For Adult Sleep please click here

For Kids Sleep please click here

For Teens Sleep please click here

For Babies Sleep please click here


I would be interested to hear how insomnia impacts on your life....


Sleep Well,

The Sleep Geek



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The Secrets Of Sleep-Episode 1

The Secrets Of Sleep-Episode 1

Well it is finally here, the first episode of The Secrets of Sleep the More 4 documentary series where I feature as one of 4 experts. The idea behind the programme is that 12 of Britain’s worst sleepers are helped by 4 of the nation’s top sleep experts in overcoming their problems. Although we are focusing on some very serious sleep issues, we knew that the advice we offer, particularly around behaviours and the environment, can be applied by most people to help them sleep better.

In the first episode, I worked with Nancy and Nancy was a star! The programme made it clear that Nancy needed to improve her behaviours around her sleep, ensuring she had as a regular bed time as possible and as regular wake up time as possible. It also highlighted how hard on some individuals changing behaviours can be; particularly when compared to a more medical solution, but that for some sleep disorders it is the best form of treatment. It also gives someone like Nancy a real sense of achievement when she gets a better night's sleep and days full of increased energy. Our role as experts is to highlight what changes need to be made, what tools to use and to coach and counsel Nancy through the process.

What was less apparent in the programme was the environmental work we did. Basically, this was looking at the room we sleep in and the products we sleep on and under. In most cases my sleep environment work is centred around addressing physiological issues, such as support or as in Nancy’s case temperature regulation but also about creating a more positive relationship with the bedroom. One of the main side effects of sleep issues and disorders is that we start to hate our bedrooms, to dread bedtime and we associate the room we sleep in with anxiety, stress and a lack of sleep.

On the physiological side with Nancy we wanted to give her products that would allow her core temperature to remain more consistent as fluctuations in temperature can be a trigger for sleep walking (we often see this in younger children). We also wanted to address her cat coming into the room during the night which could have been an issue, and, as you might have seen in the programme she kept her laptop on the table next to her bed, which was reminding her of work and could be impacting on her brain’s ability to go from day time to night time mode.

On an emotional level, we wanted to create an environment that was consistent at both home and at university. We wanted her duvet, pillow and bedding to be the same in both sleep environments and we also used a white noise machine as at university the noise her housemates made could have been triggering her sleep waking episodes. The white noise machine (I often use ones from Sound Oasis) masks noises and gives our hearing a consistent sound to focus on, so when there is a loud noise you do not go into fight or flight mode.

For her duvet and pillows we went for ones made from Alpaca fleece from Penrose Products. I love alpaca as it wicks away moisture incredibly efficiently. I often team them with Bamboo Bedding (in this case from All Bamboo) as it is easier to look after than silk, but it has similar attributes when it comes to temperature control. The reason I use these products is that they are luxurious; they are very tactile and feel lovely to the touch and hey make the person feel that their bedroom is special, which is something I really wanted to encourage in Nancy.

Hopefully the insight has been useful and I hope that you, like me, are looking forward to episode 2!


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Is your mattress what it says it is?

Is your mattress what it says it is?

Within the mattress industry there has been something of a ruckus recently. The well-established trade magazine Cabinet Maker carried out an undercover investigation in collaboration with FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association) which was looking at, as the title of this blog suggests, whether mattresses sold in the Uk are what they say they are.

Mattresses are difficult for a consumer to judge. They all look the same and at first glance a £500 mattress can look pretty like a £5,000 mattress. This means we need the people making the mattress, and the people selling the mattress to give us clear, concise information and for us to have confidence in what they are telling us.

In the investigation, The Cabinet Maker concentrated on two issues. Are the raw materials in the mattress what they say they are, is the core of the mattress the same as the one the customer thinks they have bought? For example, if it is a sprung mattress does it have the right amount of springs? Secondly and most importantly they looked at if the mattresses met the fire and flame retardation regulations, which comes down to safety and whether the products in our home are safe.

When the results came out the main problem in terms of component description was with Pocket Sprung mattresses, where 4 out of 7 tested did not accurately describe the amount of springs in the mattress. This should make consumers question whether the mattresses they buy are what they say they are as spring count, plus filling quantity and quality are the main indicators as to whether the mattress provides good value.

Customers not getting what they expect is bad but I was horrified that 10 out of 42 products (nearly 25%) failed the fire safety tests, which is a travesty. I am incredibly surprised this has not been picked up by the national press. Bear in mind the mattresses tested were single mattresses. The size of mattress that are usually bought for children. They failed the tests, that, in theory are there to protect us, to ensure our children are safe as they sleep. Some of the UK’s biggest retailers and manufacturers failed the tests and there has been no coverage in any of the national press.

I congratulate Cabinet Maker (full disclosure, after the report, I started writing a monthly column about how we improve the mattress industry) on their stance; to change an industry we need to do things that make us uncomfortable and are difficult. Some of the companies caught out in the report are advertisers with the magazine. Cabinet Maker did not know this as when they carried out the tests, they did not know the manufacturers and retailers involved, but when they did find out they didn’t pull back from releasing the data.

However, the industry’s response has been incredibly disappointing. They have claimed the tests were not fair, despite them been based on the code of practise their industry body, the National Bed Federation (NBF) has developed. In fact, the NBF used, as far as I can tell, the same criteria when investigating, alongside the BBC’s Rogue Britain programme, similar issues. If I was one of the companies involved I would be taking an open, honest look at how I manufacture and describe my products, and be honest about the mistakes I have made. Excuses and anger that they have been caught out is not going to give consumers confidence when buying mattresses. Roughly half of the products that failed were made by members of the NBF. The NBF has a code of practise that claims to ensure that its members products are safer and better quality than non-members. The NBF needs to take a hard line with any member that failed the tests.

The problem is the manufacturers make the mattress, or in most cases a part of the mattress for the tests. This means the mattress that passes the test can be constructed differently to pass the test than the mattress sold to the end consumer. This is the most worrying part of it and I would like the NBF, trading standards or both to start doing spot checks (I discussed this with the NBF and they have said they will be introducing spot checks) on retailers and manufacturers, in the way this Cabinet Maker investigation has done.

I feel sorry for the retailers on this one, as it is so difficult to check what is in the core of the mattress and whether the mattress meets the fire regulations. Unfortunately for a retailer to be able to check this they would need to open a mattress to check the spring count or set fire to a mattress to see if it meets the fire regulations. Good retailers should consider doing this, so the people supplying them are on their toes and are forced into providing a product which does what it is supposed to do.

My solution to this problem is a list of ingredients. This would entail each mattress having a label which outlines exactly what goes into the mattress, what fillings are used and how much, what springs are used and how many and what the chemicals used to meet the fire regulations are. This coupled with a system of spot checks should help the industry make products that are what they are supposed to be and ensure the consumer gets what they have paid for, and that it is safe.

If I am a consumer I would be asking how many springs are in the mattress I want to buy (most manufacturers base their spring count on the king size mattress, but you want to know the spring count in your mattress if it is a different size,) what the fillings are, how much of each one is in the mattress. Also ask the retailer if the mattress has passed the fire safety tests, and that the mattress they are buying is made in exactly the same way as the mattress that passed the test.

Within the mattress industry we have a problem with credibility and customer confidence. The actions of the manufacturers caught out in this report only add to the consumer’s mistrust of the mattress industry. Rather than reacting with an attitude of denial the industry needs to be proactive and honest going forward and show the mattress buying public they take customer comfort and safety seriously.

The issue of fire safety is extremely complicated. We currently have a regulatory regime that was designed in 1987 and our fire safety regulations are some of the most stringent in the world. However, if the mattresses don’t pass the safety tests then are the regulations relevant? There is also increasing evidence that the chemicals used to meet the regulations can be harmful to our health. The regulations have been under review since 2013 and I think there needs to be a real focus on developing a set of standards that protect consumers from both the risk of fire and the risk to our health from the chemicals used. It also needs to be achievable so mattresses consistently pass the test. The industry needs to be less concerned with the cost to them, either in monetary terms or reputation and focus on the above, consumer safety.

I’d be interested to know people’s thoughts on this blog, drop me a line with an opinion!


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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If You Do 1 Thing-Eat Breakfast!!

If 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


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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


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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


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