Areas of expertise
Sleep and biological rhythms
I have a PhD in Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, Nutrition, and Metabolism from the University of Leeds. My research on sleep has been featured in dozens of media outlets worldwide, including the BBC, The Washington Post, TIME Magazine, and Reuters. I spend a substantial amount of my working life educating people about sleep health through public speaking, podcasting, writing, and I’ve appeared as a Sleep Expert on TV and radio.
Sleep influences everything from your mood and energy levels to when you feel hungry, how much you eat, the strength of your immune system, and your body's ability to exercise (and recover after exercise). The duration, quality and timing of your sleep will affect every aspect of your health. This means the worse your sleep is, the worse you’ll feel, and poor sleep can make you feel anxious, down, irritable, frustrated and unfocused.
Your sleep is influenced by your body's internal clock (known as the circadian system), which generates roughly-24-hour rhythms in many of your body's processes. This allows your body to optimise itself for different activities at different times of the day. While your sleep-wake cycle is the most obvious output of your body's clock, your body temperature, exercise performance, digestion, metabolism, hormones, and brain function are also affected by your clock. Because of this, if you disrupt your clock — for example, by doing shift work — how you feel and function are bound to be compromised.
The good news is that many physical and mental health problems will improve dramatically as soon as body clock function and sleep improve. Therefore, I help people improve their clock function and sleep, optimising their mental and physical performance.
I can help you with a variety of sleep problems, such as:
- Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Jetlag: When your body's internal clock is out of sync with your new time zone.
- Nightmares: Vivid and frightening dreams that disrupt your sleep.
- Shift work-related sleep problems: Difficulty sleeping and daytime sleepiness due to changing work schedules.
- Advanced sleep-wake phase disorder: Falling asleep very early in the evening and waking up very early in the morning.
- Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder: Only being able to fall asleep very late at night and waking up late in the morning.
- Irregular sleep-wake rhythm disorder: Being unable to wake up and sleep at consistent times.
- Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder: Having a sleep-wake cycle that is out of sync with the 24-hour day.
When it comes to improving sleep, people are often unaware of what strategies will work for them or how to implement them consistently. My approach to treating sleep problems focuses on understanding your needs, goals, lifestyle, and routine before recommending a treatment approach. This allows me to create a personalised treatment plan tailored to your individual circumstances that’s feasible for you to maintain independently after coaching finishes. I usually combine several treatment strategies to ensure your sleep improves quickly, which is particularly helpful if you’re struggling with multiple sleep problems (such as insomnia, nightmares, and difficulty waking up).
Some of the treatments I use include:
- Behavioural approaches: For example, stimulus control therapy to to strengthen your association between your bed and sleep.
- Psychological approaches: For instance, diaries to help you identify unhelpful sleep-related thoughts.
- Metacognitive approaches: For example, mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises.
- Chronotherapies: For instance, bright light therapy and timed physical activity to regulate the timing of your circadian rhythms.
- Other lifestyle changes: For example, improving your sleep hygiene by changing your caffeine intake.
As a PhD-qualified Health and Performance Coach, my expertise is helping people optimise their physical and mental health and performance. Over the past 10 years, I've helped hundreds of individuals tackle complex issues, overcome challenges, and achieve peak performance. My clients range from business executives and elite athletes to individuals with chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson's, anxiety, and depression. My coaching approach is grounded in my academic background (MSc in exercise physiology; BSc in sports science) and is informed by my qualifications as a personal trainer, sports massage therapist, and coach.
When coaching a client, I implement numerous evidence-informed interventions that recognise the many variables that influence how you feel and function. These variables include your genetics, age, physical activity, sleep, nutrition, social life, mindset, environment, and many more factors. Despite the complex interactions between these variables, I'll work with you to keep things as simple as possible.
My aim is to understand your unique needs, goals, and context before implementing lifestyle changes that effectively move you towards your target. The changes I recommend are relatively easy to implement and sustain, are low-cost when necessary, and are likely to positively affect other aspects of your health and performance.
When it comes to exercise, I guide people through changes to their daily movement patterns based on a careful analysis of their physical function and goals. By working together, we can improve many of your physical capacities, including strength, speed of movement and physical power, endurance, mobility, coordination, and balance. A well-rounded approach like this is particularly important for your well-being as you age. It can substantially improve physical function, self-esteem, and quality of life.
My experience coaching athletes includes helping a sprinter win four gold medals at the European Championships, assisting two men in breaking the World Record rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, and working with Pip Hare on her strength, conditioning, sleep, and nutrition during her preparation for the Vendée Globe. At age 47, Pip was the first British skipper to cross the finish line in this competition in which competitors single-handedly sail around the planet.
What and when you eat are key to your overall health and well-being. Your brain needs a steady supply of appropriate building blocks since brain cells are continually being turned over. Ultimately, these building blocks come from your diet. Your nutrition also influences other consequential aspects of your health that affect your brain, such as your cardiovascular system, gut function, and body composition. Eating better can enhance your mood and brain function through many direct and indirect pathways.
As a coach, I guide people through simple dietary changes that focus on what and when to eat. This involves a series of small, sustainable changes that positively affect other health behaviours, such as sleep. I also have a special interest in nutritional interventions to support brain function. I previously co-founded a nutrition company where I led the development of new products, including a drink to enhance mental and physical performance for people under duress.
Conditions I treat
- Sleep problems
- Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders
- Overweight and obesity
- Metabolic syndrome
- Cognitive impairment
- Health optimisation
- Cognitive optimisation
- Physical fitness optimisation
My approach to treatment
I understand that it can be daunting to make changes in your life, but it's great that you’re here and you’re reading this – it means you want to take action to address something that’s challenging you right now. I want to reassure you that it’s very common for people to struggle with their physical and mental health now and then. Even we health professionals struggle sometimes! Regardless of the problem, I’m here to guide you through it.
As your coach, I’ll provide a comfortable and non-judgmental environment where we can better understand the source of your difficulties. My main goals are to put you at ease, to understand what you want to achieve, and to identify what will be most helpful for you in your current situation. From there, we can develop personalised interventions and strategies that will enable you to create healthy habits and thought processes to improve your long-term psychological and physical health.
In my experience, many mental health issues stem from a mismatch between the environments in which humans evolved to thrive and the modern world we live in. Humans evolved in small, close-knit groups where they lived as part of nature. Our bodies and minds are still wired for a lifestyle that involves strong social connections, physical activity to acquire food and water, and exposure to the natural light-dark cycle. But nowadays, we often find ourselves in socially isolated, sedentary circumstances, with disrupted sleep patterns and exposure to harmful environmental factors, such as air, land, water, noise, and light pollution.
My approach involves identifying the underlying factors contributing to your health challenges and teaching you simple interventions. By comprehensively addressing each individual's needs, I help people feel and function better and achieve their health and performance goals. The interventions I use are designed to improve your psychological and physical health in the long term by drawing on a range of evidence-based approaches. Some of the things we might work on together could include changing your beliefs and habits around sleep, modifying your physical activity, improving your nutrition, learning self-regulation practices like meditation, and altering your environment to make it easier to enact these new habits.
Before your first consultation
To ensure that our time together is as productive as possible, I may ask you to complete brief questionnaires before our first session. During our initial meeting, you will have the opportunity to share anything that’s on your mind. Working at a pace you feel comfortable with, we'll dive deeper into your current difficulties and work together to create a personalised plan to address them. Together, we will review treatment options that I believe will be most beneficial for you and select the best approaches to integrate into your daily routine. We'll take things one step at a time, with small changes that add up to big results on the path to achieving your long-term goals.
Personalised treatment plans
I'm committed to helping you develop a treatment plan that's tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. To get started, we'll explore what really matters to you at a deep level — your values — and set intentions that will help you stay aligned with these. We'll also identify any barriers that might be standing in your way, and work together to create an environment that makes it as easy as possible for you to stick to your new habits.
Throughout our sessions, we'll consider a wide range of factors that could impact your health and well-being including:
- Your goals, preferences, motivations and long-term goals.
- Your current health and fitness levels.
- What approaches you’ve tried previously to improve your health (what has worked and what hasn’t).
- Your social support and hobbies.
- How much time you have available for creating new habits (for example, when you have opportunities to exercise or make a cook meals).
- Your capabilities (for example, whether you currently have any physical limitations due to injury).
- How many sessions you would like to work together to achieve your goals.
To create your personalised treatment plan, I'll select from a variety of well-studied and effective interventions. For example, we might explore:
- Behavioural sleep interventions: This might involve restricting the amount of time you spend in bed and improving sleep regularity, for example. These changes can significantly reduce insomnia symptoms and improve your mood and overall health.
- Cognitive sleep interventions: If you tend to ruminate about your sleep, we might work on increasing your awareness of these worries and help you respond differently to such thoughts.
- Metacognitive interventions: Mindfulness exercises like meditation can help you learn to pay attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. This can be particularly helpful for people who tend to react reflexively to their experiences.
- Exercise training: Combining resistance and endurance exercise can have a powerful impact on long-term health outcomes. Recent research has also shown that exercise is a potent mood booster.
- Changes to diet composition: Certain foods (such as oily fish and berries) have been shown to improve brain health. Cocoa, for example, can improve memory by improving blood flow to parts of the brain important to memory.
- Changes to diet timing: Restricting food intake to a regular 8- to 10-hour window each day can reduce food intake, weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Well-timed food intake can also minimise the negative effects of substances like caffeine and alcohol on sleep quality.
- Changes to exposure to daylight and darkness: A lack of daylight and night-time exposure to artificial light can disrupt your body clock. Getting enough sunlight can improve your sleep quality and timing, lift your mood, and even boost immune function.
Although I’m not a medical doctor and do not prescribe medications, I strongly advocate the responsible use of medications when necessary. In fact, many of the interventions I incorporate into my treatment plans are designed to work hand in hand with medication. To ensure that we are all on the same page, I’m happy to collaborate with your doctor to establish a unified approach to your care. Additionally, if you and your doctor decide to discontinue the use of a sleep medication, I can guide you through a gradual tapering process to minimise potential withdrawal symptoms.
Education & Training
I’m a Health and Performance Coach with a PhD in Sleep, Nutrition and Metabolic Health, and an MSc in Exercise Science. Since 2010, I have been coaching individuals with chronic health conditions, including mental ill health, sleep disorders, metabolic disorders, obesity, and autoimmune diseases. I’ve also coached elite athletes from various sports, helping people break World Records and win gold medals.
Regarding my education, I completed my undergraduate degree at Loughborough University, graduating with a first-class degree in Sport and Exercise Science. During my undergraduate degree, I experienced scientific research through an internship with the Physiological Society. I also qualified as a personal trainer and sports massage therapist and gained coaching qualifications in athletics and strength and conditioning.
I then returned to Loughborough University for my Master's degree in Exercise Physiology, graduating with distinction. In 2014, I started my PhD at the University of Leeds, where my research focused on the connections between sleep, diet, and cardiometabolic health. My academic research was featured in numerous media outlets worldwide, including the BBC, TIME Magazine, and Reuters.
Since finishing my PhD in 2018, I’ve worked as a director at three health companies, including serving as Chief Science Officer of an app designed to automate health coaching throughout the day, across the lifespan. Later, as Chief Science Officer at Resilient Nutrition, I led new-product development, formulating the first nutrition product (Switch On), designed to offset the adverse consequences of poor sleep on various bodily systems.
In addition to this, I have contributed expert opinion to various large media outlets, written a book chapter on how the body clock links depression and diabetes, published three e-books (including The Principles of Resilient Nutrition), and created online courses for several companies (for example, Health Masters Live). I have been a guest on approximately 100 podcast episodes, appeared on television as a sleep expert (How to Lose Weight Well), provided expert commentary on popular YouTube channels (such as What I've Learned), given talks at events (such as the Health Optimisation Summit) and to companies (such as Oracle), and communicated scientific ideas through numerous articles for various websites (for example, humanOS and the Fine Bedding Company).
Outside of work, I love exploring new environments and different cultures. I've been lucky to visit many extraordinarily beautiful places, such as the Galápagos, Madagascar, and Raja Ampat. I've always been drawn to nature and particularly enjoy hiking and scuba diving.
I enjoy everyday activities too — seeing family and friends, meeting new people, reading interesting books and research, listening to music, exercising, and watching the sun rise and set. I love delicious food and good coffee (I'm now officially a coffee snob!) and learning new skills (my latest project is learning some Python coding basics).
Finally, since 2015 I've been particularly interested in effective altruism, a movement that uses reason and evidence to do as much good as possible with one’s life.