Posted by: thesleepgeek | May 27, 2011

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

Posted by: thesleepgeek | March 9, 2011

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

Anti Dust Mite MattressOh my! I know what you are thinking, 2 blogs in a week, you are on fire Mr Sleep Geek. And I am. And in total there will be 3 blogs, a definite twit twoo for that.

Anyway on to the matter in hand, and surprisingly enough I am going to be talking about sleep. More specifically a little snippet in the Daily Mail yesterday that makes very general and sweeping claims about what kind of mattresses the different sexes prefer. You can read the snippet Here but what it is basically says (it is a very short article) that sharing a bed can disturb sleep and that because of their different body shapes women need a softer mattress while men need a firmer one. The article quotes Dr. Neil Stanley as the person who is putting forward this piece of advice. Now I know Dr. Stanley and I am surprised he has come up with such a prescriptive one size fits all piece of advice on this. I am pretty sure Dr. Stanley has a similar view to me that we are all individuals and when it comes to sleep there isn’t a one size fits all solution.

On this basis I talked to a friend of mine who is a Physiologist and he felt the stereotyping all men’s bodies as being similar and all women’s bodies being similar is just plain wrong. My friend stated that men and women marathon runners will have body shapes that are similar and obese men and women will have more in common with each other that the marathon runners of the same sex. Dr. Stanley sure knows his stuff when it comes to sleep but I am not certain he is the best person to be commenting on the right mattress types for us. My advice is to try your mattress before buying it and do not go in with pre conceived ideas of what you think you need. The mattress should ensure that your spine is straight, that the heavier parts of your body are supported right and that you feel comfortable. I know people who just cannot stick a firm mattress while others feel a soft one is just not right for them. As long as you are supported don’t let ANYONE tell you what mattress you should be buying!

The Hand Test

A good tip whe trying mattreses is to use the Hand Test. Lay on your back or side, whichever you sleep on and try and get your flat hand between your body and the mattress. On your back do it at the bottom of your back and on your side do it at your hip. If it is difficult to get your hand in then the mattress is supporting you well. If your hand slips in easily then the mattress is not supporting you well enough.

Now move on to part 2 for my thoughts on Sleeping separately

Posted by: thesleepgeek | March 6, 2011

National Bed Month- New Mattress? Sometimes but not Always

Buying a MattressHello lovers of sleep. Today is the end of the first week of National Bed Month the Sleep Council’s celebration of all things beds and mattresses, and it has left me a little underwhelmed. Encouraging people from replacing their mattresses a little bit sooner is not really going to fundamentally change the way Great Britain sleeps.

Their campaign is based around “Toxic Sleep” and the fact that although many of us find we are not getting enough sleep we do not link it to the age and quality of the mattress.

I agree that there is a problem with what they describe as Toxic Sleep (I am not convinced by this description, it sounds like a concept someone in PR came up with to scare people with) but from my experience, and I talk to people with sleep problems every day, the reasons are often more complicated than just that their mattress is too old.

For starters they state that 67% of people suffer from neck and back problems when they wake up. Now back problems are often caused by your mattress, or the chair you sit in all day, but I find that neck problems are usually caused by having the wrong pillow. If you do suffer from neck problems my advice would be to replace your pillow first, as it is a more affordable purchase. Remember when buying a pillow that, however you sleep (on your back or side); you need to be making sure your spine in straight. Additionally demand that you are able to try the pillow before you buy and if you are buying on line remember legally you can send it back within the first 7 days and get your money back if it is not right for you.

Secondly we find that people who replace their mattress often need additional help to get back into a healthy sleep routine. Sleep is in theory easy, in that we need to be comfortable and relaxed. Replacing your mattress (and don’t forget a pillow, duvet and bedding that is right for you as well), sorts out the being comfortable bit but we find our customers often need help in feeling relaxed. The stress of having a mattress that is uncomfortable goes from being a physical problem to being a mental one, in that they get used to worrying about falling asleep. I give these customers tips and techniques to help them relax. If you would like some easy tips and techniques to help you relax please get in touch

Thirdly I find that stress and lifestyle issues are as big a reason for poor sleep as a knackered mattress. People struggle to sleep because of worrying, a poor diet during the day, not being relaxed enough before sleep, consuming too many stimulants such as alcohol or caffeine and generally not showing enough respect for sleep. These issues can often be addressed easily and for free and I would never sell a new mattress to someone who didn’t need it. I always encourage people to try the most affordable solution first

So my advice? If you are waking with a bad back think about changing your mattress, especially if it is over 7 years old, but don’t forget that good sleep needs you to be relaxed as well and you need to address any lifestyle issues that may be stopping you sleeping.

Sweet Dreams zzzzzz

Posted by: thesleepgeek | January 27, 2011

Air, Water, Food and SLEEP!

Can't Sleep

Clock Watching can stop you sleeping

Above are the four things we need to live. So why is it when we do not get enough of the last one we are not able to get the help we need? Today I wish to discuss something very close to my heart, namely the sleep problems many of us deal with on a day to day basis and how the medical profession doesn’t really address our sleep problems very well at all.

The Mental Health Foundation, with the help of the Great British Sleep Survey from  have put together a report that highlights the lack of help we get (read it here )from the medical profession when it comes to sleep problems. They have come up with a list of suggestions which could help us as a nation address our sleep issues.

Many of the things they discuss are issues I have been shouting about for a couple of years. I believe that sleep should be taught in schools (Iam starting to work with Newfield School as their Entrepreneur in Residence and as part of this I want to help their students sleep better) and that people should be made more aware of the lifestyle changes and easy techniques that can be used to help your chances of sleep. Additionally GP’s need to have extra training on sleep and how their patients can address the issues they have. This then has to be part of a wider strategy within the NHS to address the sleep problems we have. At the moment they only have sleeping tablets in their armoury, which often work in the short term , but only mask the patients issues and due to them being extremely addictive can only be used for a small amount of time. Often the relationship between an insomnia sufferer and their GP become a war of attrition, with the patient eventually giving up. It really shouldn’t be like this

Many GP’s recognise their inability to get to the root of their patients sleep problems and we are in discussions with a local GP at the moment for his patients to be given our details as we can give them an hour and a half to give them a full in depth consultation and then give them the tips, tools and products that can help them overcome whatever issue it is that is preventing them from sleeping.

For many people what prevents them from sleeping is stress and anxiety. As I am so lovely I have put together some easy to use tips that can have a real benefit on your sleep.

Try cutting caffeine (and also alcohol) out of your diet. It is a stimulant and not only does it prevent you from sleeping, but it makes the sleep you get really poor quality
Eat Breakfast no later than half an hour after you get up
Stay hydrated during the day. Drink water at regular intervals, sipping small quantities each time as dehydration really affects our ability to sleep
Before you go to bed make sure you relax. Do not do something that stresses you out and then go straight to bed. The amount of people I talk to who work until late, jump straight into bed and then toss and turn for a couple of hours is amazing. Make sure you spend half an hour relaxing before bed. I use Yogic breathing techniques. Breathing from your stomach (your stomach should dome out as you breathe in and pull back to your ribs when you breathe out). This activates your Vagus Nerve which stimulates the production of serotonin and helps to relax you. The Nightwave Sleep Assistant is popular with our customers to help them relax.
If you are tired during the day try and have a nap. Sleeping through the night would be more preferable but napping can help replenish your energy levels. However make sure it is less than 30 minutes or over two hours because if you have anything in between you run the risk of waking during the deepest stage of sleep. This will leave you feeling groggy and lethargic when you wake up.
• If you have been to your doctors and you are not happy with the response you get then get a new GP
Make sure you cannot see your clock. Clock watching is such a problem for people who come and see me and removing the clock removed the worry when you wake in the night that you will not get enough sleep

Hope this Helps!

Posted by: thesleepgeek | November 24, 2010

Some Tips for staying awake during the ashes

Good evening my fellow sleep worshippers. I was asked to put together some tips on staying awake during th night to watch the ashes today and I thought I would share them with you. Honestly I cannot understand why anyone would not want to have beautiful, delicious sleep, but I suppose needs must from time to time. enjoy!

To get the best out of watching the Ashes, my advice would be to take the days off work and treat them as if you are working on a night shift.

This means sleeping during the day, having a black out blind in your bedroom to replicate nighttime darkness and using a daylight alarm clock that mimics the sun rising and falling to help you go to sleep and wake up. Having full spectrum light bulbs in the room where you are watching the cricket will help to keep you awake during play – they mimic the sun and your body will assume that it’s daytime and therefore feel more awake.

If it’s impossible for you to take the days off work, as it will be for most people, then follow the tips below. However remember that you will have to catch up on the missing sleep somehow, and the advice below will not prevent you feeling tired and lethargic during the day.

1. Grab some sleep where you can. So, try to sleep for 2-3 hours before the cricket starts. Also plan to take 20-30 minute naps during the breaks in play at lunch and tea. If you can, go into work late and have 2-3 hours of sleep after the day’s play has finished. Also build in time to catch up on your sleep, for example at the weekend.

2. Steer clear of sugar. It will give you a short-term rush and you’ll feel awake, but then you’ll go on a downer and you’ll be likely to fall asleep in this time.

3. Caffeine does help to keep you awake, but it will affect your ability to nap during play. Too much can also have an effect on your ability to sleep after the test has finished.

4. Convince your body that it’s daytime by using full spectrum light bulbs (mentioned above).

5. Keep the room you are watching the match in cool.

6. If you feel sleepy, get up and walk around – walking outside works best. Or splash some water on your face to stop you nodding off.

I hope this helps!!

Posted by: thesleepgeek | November 11, 2010

The Art of Buying a Pillow & Radio Sheffield

Latex Pillows

Our lovely Latex Pillows

Hello fellow sailors on the good ship sleep. This morning I appeared on the Breakfast show on BBC Radio Sheffield to talk about sleep and also the art if buying the right pillow. If you would like to listen to what I had to say you can do so Here , the item starts after 1 hour and 33 minutes.

It was an interesting experience and highlights the importance of pillows to your sleep environment. One of the things that was mentioned was that John Lewis sell a £150 pillow, (which by the way I don’t think it is that good, but that is just my opinion) and how expensive that is. A pillow normally last two years, although ones that use materials such as cotton, Alpaca Wool or Silk last longer, and over that time a £150 pillow will cost you only 20p per night. When you think about how long you spend laid on that pillow (if you slept an average of 7 hours per night it would be for 5110 hours) then it doesn’t seem too much for a good night’s sleep, yet the majority of us would baulk at paying that price.

My theory on this is that because generally we are not able to try pillows in retail outlets, (try going into a shop and ask them if you can try the pillow. They will look at you as if you have just asked if you can defecate on their floor!) so we have the mentality that we will buy as cheap a pillow as possible just in case it doesn’t work. This why we end up with cupboards stuffed with pillows that were not quite right.

At We Love Sleep we don’t take that approach, we want you to come and try our pillows, to work out which one is best for you and go home happy and ready to sleep soundly. If you do go somewhere else, and I wouldn’t recommend it, DEMAND to try the pillow before you buy and if they refuse don’t buy from them!

My tips to remember when buying a Pillow are

  • When using a pillow you are trying to keep your spine straight, no matter what your sleep position is
  • The depth of pillow or pillows you need is dictated by the width of your back. Generally a person with a narrow back will need a shallower pillow while those with deeper back will need a deeper pillow or more pillows
  • If you get hot in bed try the Chillow or a pillow made from Alpaca Wool
  • The next consideration is how you sleep. If you sleep on your front (which we wouldn’t recommend) or your back you will need a shallower pillow than if you sleep on your side


Good Night!

Posted by: thesleepgeek | October 26, 2010

Our Sleep Solutions Centre-How It Works

Well you may have noticed that We Love Sleep (the company that I am chief Sleep Geek for) have taken a giant step in our aim of getting the UK (then Europe and then the World!!) sleeping better with the opening of our first Sleep Solutions Centre. As it is taken a little longer than expected to get the page up on our website I thought I would try and explain exactly what a Sleep Solutions Centre is and what we do there.

The Sleep Solutions Centre offers a unique opportunity to:

• receive FREE tailored sleep advice and tips from me

• test our collection of high quality, innovative sleep products in complete privacy.

At our Sleep Solutions Centre we provide tailored sleep advice, tips and product recommendations to those with sleep problems. For example, we frequently help those whose sleep is disturbed by the following:

• Stress /Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Back/Neck/Hip Problems
• Allergies
• Hay Fever
• Eczema/Sensitive Skin
• Snoring and/or Sleep Apnoea
• Overheating in Bed
• Too Cold in Bed
• Old/Uncomfortable Mattress, Pillow, Duvet or Bedding

Appointments are private and FREE but prior booking is required.

How to book your FREE private appointment at our Sleep Solutions Centre
Our Sleep Solutions Centre is open for FREE private appointments 7 days a week. You can come and see me whenever is convenient for you. So, if you would prefer to come and see us before or after work or on a Sunday evening, for example, just let us know.
To book your FREE private appointment simply call us on 0800 170 7288 or 0114 272 2613 or email us at

What to expect
Once you have booked your appointment, we may ask you to complete a Sleep Questionnaire. Where possible, we ask that you complete the Sleep Questionnaire and return it to us no later than 24 hours before your appointment. You can complete the Sleep Questionnaire, just give us a call on 0800 1707288 or e-mail us and we will get one across to you.
The information you provide in your Sleep Questionnaire will enable us to prepare for your appointment and advise you during your appointment with us.

If you simply wish to test one of our sleep products, you will not be required to complete a Sleep Questionnaire.

In most cases, your appointment will last approximately 30 minutes to one hour and will involve a consultation with me and an opportunity to test our collection of sleep products.

If you require any further information, or have any questions, just give us a call on 0800 170 7288 or 0114 272 2613 or email us at

How to find us
Our Sleep Solutions Centre is located in the heart of Sheffield city centre, just off West Street, at the following address:
Unit 10 Devonshire Business Park
78 Eldon Street
S1 4GT
To view where we are on Multi Map click Here

Free customer parking is available. Our Sleep Solutions Centre is also served by the Supertram on West Street and buses that travel along Moore Street and Charter Row.

To find out more about what We Love Sleep do check out our website

Can't Sleep

Don't Suffer in Silence. Come and visit us and we can help you start sleeping soundly

Posted by: thesleepgeek | October 21, 2010

Sleep Better by Breathing Better

Just BreatheIt is so so so so late but here is the promised update on my Just Breathe sessions. Firstly how it worked. I went to Greens Gym in Sheffield every week day for 3 weeks, giving me 15 sessions. Each session takes 40 minutes and it works by you wearing a mask that regulates the amount of oxygen in the air that you are breathing. You are on the machine for 7 minutes then you have 3 minutes off to recover. It is basically a form of altitude training and the way that it helps you sleep better is that your body is fed less oxygen so learns to become more efficient with the Oxygen that is taken in. This means your body runs slower, relaxing you and leading to better quality sleep.

Initially I was finding that I was yawning a lot, I was not particularly tired but my body was obviously adjusting to the lack of oxygen the Just Breathe system was giving me. I didn’t find it a chore to visit Greens Gym every night and Chris Hale who runs it was really good at keeping me focused on the sessions and my breathing.

However in the last week of the sessions I really started to feel the difference. I was feeling really energetic during the day and at night I was falling to sleep on the dot at 11 and sleeping really well until I woke up at about 6.30. When I woke I felt alive and ready for the day ahead. Even now 3 weeks on, I feel that my sleep is of a better quality and I feel more energetic in the day. Every two months or so I will be going for a top up to make sure my sleep patterns stay good and I keep snoozing deeply.
Two months on from using the Just Breathe I am still feeling the benefit. I have not struggled to sleep since I did it and an added bonus is that I do feel a lot fitter! I even managed to play a full game of Sunday League football with 30 minutes of extra time 2 weeks ago and felt really good. We won by the way 5-3 on penalties.

Organic Mattress

One of our lovely Organic Mattresses

Firstly an apology; I have been very quiet for the last month, busy sorting out our new Sleep Solutions Centre, which will give people who are struggling to sleep somewhere to visit to get advice and try the products that can help solve their sleep problems. If you are missing out on some sleep reading and are desperate to read practical advice, reviews and opinions about sleep why not check out my colleague Amy’s Blog. She is in charge of telling the world about us and is very very good at her job.
This leads me on to our appearance in The Sunday Telegraph this weekend, which Amy organised. The article, written by Sarah Lonsdale was a well thought out piece going Organic in the bedroom. Two of our lovely customers were used as case studies including Jess Allen who suffers from psoriatic arthritis. It caused swelling in her toe and finger joints and after turning away from the cocktail of drugs she was prescribed (Jess has a PHD in biochemistry so knew what she was talking about) she set about minimising the toxins in the environment she lived in. Part of this was buying one of our Organic Mattresses as she also noticed that good sleep led to a the symptoms of her condition becoming less. The combination of no chemicals and a very comfortable mattress has helped her deal with her condition. As Jess says in the article “My condition has improved hugely although I can’t say for sure whether it is down to fewer chemicals or just getting a better night’s sleep.”

Jess is one of our all time favourite customers and she is currently walking from wind turbine to wind turbine in Wales, charting the landscape around her as she does so. You can read all about her journey on her blog


Yesterday I started a 3 week trial of a service we are hoping to offer called Just Breathe. It is a system of altitude training that gets our heart and lungs working more efficiently and therefore means the quality of sleep you get is far better. I will be keeping you updated on my thoughts over the next three weeks. At the moment I can struggle to get the good quality sleep I need, especially with the stress of setting up our Sleep Solution Centre. Also I suffer from a lethargic period after dinner, (or lunch if you are not from Sheffield!) which Just Breathe will hopefully address. Keep checking back to find out my latest thoughts!

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