The Sleep Council Advisory Board

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‘The Sleep Council’ is our voluntary advisory board. The Advisory Board helps to shape the future of sleep support nationally and plays a vital role around providing advice, challenge and scrutiny on key issues and programmes.

The professionals’ expertise spans across sleep, sport science, nutrition, menopause, mental health, sleep research, primary care, public health, sensory processing, CBTi and medical sleep disorders.

Simon Blake OBE  – Chair of The Sleep Council Advisory Board

Simon Blake is CEO of leading mental health social enterprise, Mental Health First Aid England. Our mission is to train 1:10 of the adult population in mental health knowledge, awareness and skills. Simon is vice chair of Stonewall the LGBT charity, a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute and a Champion of Pride 365. Prior to joining MHFA England Simon was CEO of the National Union of Students and Brook – the young people’s sexual health charity. Simon is a campaigner, trainer and writer. He has written over 50 practical guides and resources on all aspects of Personal, Social and Health Education. He is a keen runner, horse rider and loves sleeping.

Dr Ruth Kingshott – sleep physiologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Ruth has worked in the field of sleep physiology since 1994. During this time she completed her PhD in Sleep Disorders and their effect on daytime function and her RPSGT qualification. She has previously worked at sleep centres in Edinburgh and New Zealand and has now been at Sheffield Children’s Hospital since 2003. Ruth has worked in sleep physiology in both clinical and research roles in both adult and paediatric settings. Ruth has been a trustee of The Sleep Charity since 2018. Her interests include running; walking in the Peak District and catching up on sleep after her permanent night shifts.

Dr Mike Farquhar  – sleep medicine consultant at Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Mike Farquhar is a sleep medicine consultant at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which provides comprehensive assessment and management across the whole spectrum of paediatric sleep disorders. He and his colleagues worked with the PSHE Association to include teaching about sleep in the English school curriculum. Mike works to improve education of healthcare staff about the impact of sleep deprivation/fatigue on the provision of 24/7 NHS care. He also works to raise awareness of issues and challenges faced by LGBT+ people, and is a lead developer of the Rainbow NHS Badge project.

Dr Sarah Gilchrist  – specialist in sleep and athletic performance

Dr Sarah Gilchrist spent over 20 years working in the high-performance sport industry, latterly as Technical Lead for the English Institute of Sport and Senior Physiologist with British Rowing. Her doctorate specialised in sleep and athletic performance and it is her knowledge of sleep health that she now brings to the world outside of elite sport where sleep, downtime and managing your energy are key pillars of daily life. Dr Gilchrist is a Fellow British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences and is a High-Performance Sport Accredited practitioner.

Dr Roxane L. Gervais  – chartered psychologist

Dr Roxane L. Gervais is a Chartered Psychologist providing consultancy services to organisations. Her expertise focuses on addressing occupational safety and health issues using an evidenced-based approach, to promote safe and healthy practices. Her professional and research interests include the well-being of individuals within the work environment, inclusive of job stress and strain, mental health, job satisfaction, work-life balance, inclusive of contributing factors to these, such as sleep, exercise and recovery. Roxane’s work and research experience cover also diversity, leadership, communication, behaviour change, flexible working and organisational change. She is an invited speaker at conferences and has led projects internationally.

Nathalie Winn – nutritionist at Waitrose & Partners

Nathalie has a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Southampton and MSc in Nutrition from King’s College London. Previous experience includes working as a University Lecturer for the undergraduate and postgraduate nutrition degree programmes; managing health education and outreach programmes for the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) UK, and various freelance roles such as writing for health publications and leading community weight management courses for the Primary Care Trust. She’s worked as a nutritionist for Waitrose & Partners since 2011, where she has delivered a number of talks on nutrition and wellbeing for sleep to employees and customers. Nathalie is passionate about helping people to make healthier choices and enjoy a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Dr Neil Bindemann  – director at Innervate, Exec Director of P-CNS and Community Therapists Network

Following the completion of a Neuroscience PhD in 1993, Neil moved into the field of medical education and communication. He has worked in various healthcare fields and stimulated a number of initiatives, including the setting up and running of Primary care and Community Neurology Society in 2004. Then in 2015, after a period of disturbing neurological symptoms, Neil was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which following urgent brain surgery, was found to be a benign, but growing tumour. Thankfully, by instigating a few lifestyle related changes, his scan in 2020 confirmed that the tumour, a pineocytoma, had stopped growing.

Rachel Wallbank  – Specialist Occupational Therapist

Rachel works clinically as a Specialist Occupational Therapist in the field of Neurology, largely with individuals managing long-term autoimmune and inflammatory neurological conditions. On a daily basis she works with individuals in managing their sleep difficulties that arise from, and exacerbate, the physical, psychological and environmental barriers of living with a long term condition. She advocates strongly for using lived experience and co-production in treatment and education interventions. Rachel has had a long and varied career as an Occupational Therapist working in adult and children’s’ services across neurological rehabilitation. Prior to becoming an OT she also worked as a Respiratory Technician involved in sleep disorder assessment.

Dr Alanna Hare  – consultant in sleep and respiratory failure at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Alanna Hare is a consultant in sleep and respiratory failure at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the National Heart and Lung Institute. She is the Secretary of the British Sleep Society, Chair of the British Thoracic Society Education and Training Committee and sits on the Board and Council of the British Thoracic Society. Dr Hare graduated from Selwyn College, University of Cambridge in 1999, and completed her postgraduate training at Imperial College London in 2002. She holds a master’s in clinical education and was awarded a distinction for her work on the assessment of clinical competence. As part of the prestigious Darzi Fellowship scheme, she has also undertaken postgraduate training in medical leadership and management.

Dr Elizabeth Pal  – Community Paediatric Registrar, Bradford Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Elizabeth’s background is as a Paediatric Registrar with 9 years’ experience working in the NHS. Liz has a Diploma in Child Health, is a member of the ‘Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’ and the ‘British Association of Community Child Health’. She currently works with a range of stakeholders including public health, the voluntary and community sector and the NHS to influence the strategic development a number of areas of child health, including childhood sleep provision, maternity services, infant mental health, and adverse childhood experiences.

Jessica Alexander  – executive director of the National Bed Federation

Jessica is the Executive Director of the National Bed Federation. Jessica started her career as a journalist before setting up her own PR & Communications business in 1987, working with many leading furniture brands and the industry charity the Furniture Trades Benevolent Association (FTBA). She also began working as PR consultant for the National Bed Federation (NBF). In 1995 she set up The Sleep Council, funded by a levy paid by bed manufacturers and retailers, which started to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of a good night’s sleep. It ran as an independent entity until 2004 when the NBF took over its funding. Over the 25 years Jessica has been involved with The Sleep Council, she has run many awareness campaigns, supervised a number of sleep research projects and conducted numerous TV and radio interviews.

Dr Rob Meadows  – Professor at University of Surrey

Rob has researching the sociological aspects of sleep for nearly 20 years – focusing largely on (i) couples’ sleep; (ii) inequalities in sleep; (iii) recovery from addiction and sleep; and (iv) technologies and sleep. He has published widely and is (co)author of five papers reprinted in an international volume on critical concepts in sleep. Rob is committed to public engagement and has been elected to the executive committee of the British Sleep Society (twice) and was part of the team which developed the Substance Use Sleep Scale. This is now part of the SURE Recovery app. His current work focuses on new agendas for a new public health and sleep.

Jenny Featherstone  – physiotherapist, specialising in paediatric neuro-disability

Jenny qualified as a physiotherapist in 2000 and has practiced in the NHS for the last 20 years, specialising in paediatric neuro-disability. She is passionate about enabling children with disabilities to achieve their potential and participate fully in life. For the last 10 years Jenny has managed the Community Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Service at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and is extremely proud of her role in the recent commissioning of a joint health and education Sensory Service. Jenny sees sleep as a key component in the health and wellbeing of everyone and take great pleasure in lecturing on sensory processing and its links to sleep on The Sleep Charity’s sleep practitioner training course.

Dr Theodora Kalentzi  – specialist in women’s health and menopause care

Theodora qualified as a doctor in Greece in 1992 and came to the UK in 1996. She was trained as a GP and became a member of the RCGP in 2001. She subsequently undertook a Master’s Degree in Health Management at Imperial College London and embarked in a busy portfolio career. Theodora has a particular interest in women’s health and the menopause care. She holds a postgraduate diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and she is an accredited Menopause Specialist by the British Menopause Society. She enjoys travelling, snowboarding, swimming, wine tasting, continuous learning and working towards making a difference.

Dr Karen McDonnell  – occupational health and safety policy adviser at RoSPA

Karen is Occupational Health and Safety Policy Adviser at RoSPA and Head of RoSPA Scotland. She is a highly motivated advocate for OSH, skilled in partnership working , with a track record of working with key stakeholders across the world. A broad range of strategic and operational experience gained over 30 years whilst working for RoSPA, a registered charity at the heart of accident prevention encouraging the adoption of a ‘wholeperson wholelife’ approach to prevention, putting people at the heart of sustainability. Focussing on the working age population and key issues including fatigue she has the ability to influence and motivate others. As a volunteer she supports IOSH and ADHD+ Perth to achieve their respective visions.

Shaun Fenton OBE  – headmaster at Reigate Grammar School

Shaun is the Headmaster at Reigate Grammar School – a multi-award winning; School of the Year for Pastoral Care (TES) and School of the Year for Community Outreach (ISP) and more – and recently awarded an OBE for his services to education. He believes children deserve the very best pastoral and academic care to enable great life chances. Shaun has been board member of examination board AQA; a National Leader of Education; is an ISI Inspector. As Chair of HMC he led two national conferences and spoke out on the importance of partnerships, wellbeing, pastoral care, community outreach and more. Shaun’s passion for education is equalled by his love of sport, drama and music.

Dr Simon Durrant  – director of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Lincoln

Simon Durrant is Director of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Lincoln where he also leads the Sleep and Cognition Laboratory and is Director of Research in the School of Psychology. Trained as neuroscientist and psychologist, Dr Durrant holds a PhD from the University of Sheffield and a DPhil from the University of Sussex. Dr Durrant is a research scientist focused on the relationship between sleep, cognition and well-being, but with a research portfolio covering a variety of areas from clinical sleep disorders to sleep engineering. He is currently Honorary Treasurer of the British Sleep Society where he also a member of the Executive Committee and the Research Subcommittee.

Dr Sophie Bostock  – specialist in sleep and CBTi

Sophie is a Sleep Evangelist on a mission: to help millions of people to improve their lives by unlocking the science of sleep and performance. Following an early career in research, Sophie joined the team at Sleepio, and spent several years promoting the uptake of digital medicine for insomnia within the NHS. An accident caused by sleep deprivation was the trigger for Sophie to launch to champion sleep help for the wider population. Sophie now provides keynote talks, performance training and consultancy for clients in business, the military and elite sport. Sophie also features as a media sleep expert for ITV This Morning, and has delivered talks for TEDx and Talks@Google.

Dr Jonathan Sunkersing  – GP with specialist interest in sleep

Jonathan is a GP with a specialist interest in sleep medicine and has a Masters in Sleep Medicine from the University of Oxford. Jonathan also worked as a registrar in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, which sparked his passion for sleep medicine. His interests include classical music, skiing and cooking.

Dr Clare Simon  – lead and founder of The London Dental Sleep Clinic

Clare qualified from King’s College London dental school in 2010. Since then she went on to gain her Membership of the Faculty of Dental Surgery in 2012. Dr Simon has over a decade’s worth of experience in general practice and now chooses to dedicate her time solely to dental sleep medicine. She was one of the first UK dentists to attend the British Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine masterclass awarded by the British Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Dr Simon currently serves on the board for the British Society of Dental Sleep Medicine. She is also a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and continuously furthers her education in this field.