Dr. Els van der Helm

Dr. Els van der Helm

Sleep Neuroscientist, Performance & Leadership Expert

why book els?

  • Dr. Els van der Helm holds a PhD in Psychology from UC Berkeley, specialising in sleep’s impact on brain performance
  • She has improved sleep quality by up to 50% and lowered stress by 30% for leaders at major companies like McKinsey, Facebook, and AWS
  • Dr. Els has demonstrated ability to enhance performance by 21% through sleep-focused training programs for high-performing teams


Dr. Els van der Helm is a sleep neuroscientist, ex-McKinsey consultant and focused on improving the performance of organisations by improving the sleep of leaders and teams through sleep training. Clients include top firms in consulting, tech and banking such as McKinsey, BCG, PwC, Facebook and AWS. She has shown to improve sleep quality by up to 50%, improve performance by 21% and lower stress by 30%.

Dr. van der Helm started her career in wellbeing and performance with her Master’s in Neurosciences, where she investigated the effect of sleep on cognitive performance (the Netherlands Institute of Neurosciences) and emotional processing (Harvard Medical School).

She went on to study the effect of sleep on the brain and performance during her PhD in Psychology (UC Berkeley) before working at McKinsey as a management consultant and becoming Adjunct Professor at IE University in Madrid.

Her publications have been featured by Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, McKinsey Quarterly and many others.


Power of Sleep

The Power of Sleep addresses the fundamentals of the science of sleep. Learn everything about why we sleep, what the consequences are of sleep deprivation, how you build up your sleep debt but also what you can do to repay it. Walk away with tips & tricks on how to start improving your sleep tonight and get crystal clear insights on how your daily activities influence your nights. Unlock your potential by harnessing the Power of Sleep!

Sleep & Mental Health

A good night’s sleep is key to good mental health. Sleep makes you more resilient and provides you with the energy to stay on top of things instead of becoming overwhelmed with everything that is happening in these weary times. Gain insights in how sleep affects your mental health and get clear tips & tricks on how to protect it. 

Women’s Sleep

Women often struggle more with their sleep than men: Women are for instance more likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This can increase the risk of chronic diseases, mental health problems but also hurt performance. In this session we discuss some of the biological reasons underpinning this difference (e.g., how your menstrual cycle impacts your sleep) and what you can do to improve your sleep and ensure you leverage the power of sleep for your performance and health.

Stress & Sleep

In the Stress & Sleep Session you not only learn about how stress influences sleep but how you can use sleep to combat external stressors. Break the vicious circle of feeling stressed and not sleeping well by learning what stress is, how it affects our entire physiological and physical being and why you respond the way you do. Sleep is the key to feeling less stressed. 

Leadership & Sleep

Science shows that team leaders sleep better than their team members. This leads to a false expectation on what good sleep is and maybe not even the right sleep culture in a team or company. This session focuses on how to remove any taboos around the topic of sleep, what a good expectation on sleep is for teams and its members as well as how to establish a healthy company culture in which sleep has a place.

Els van der Helm, Dr.


You may want to go deeper with your audience. Masterclasses can be tailored and developed to suit your audience needs, be it a 90-minute Masterclass, a half-day or full-day workshop or a full online or face-to-face programme. Please contact one of our expert team to discuss.


“Els hosted a dynamic and energetic sleep and leadership session that was filled with science-based content. For me, the real differentiator was how she integrated personal learnings from her lived experience finding good sleep while in the cauldron of intense client-facing consulting engagements at McKinsey & Co., where we were colleagues. This combination resonated well, leading me to adopt her strategies for the years since that session through today. I attribute greater focus, ease if access to flow states, and resilience to better sleep. I would recommend Els’s sessions to any senior leader in a high-pressure environment seeking a competitive edge, i.e., productive, high-quality sleep.”

Michael Bazigos, PhD – Managing Director, Strategy Consulting Group, Talent & Organization / Human Potential Practice, Accenture

“The sleep masterclass has changed my mindset to prioritize sleep and implement the tips on the evening routine which has made me feel a lot better during the day and lowered my stress levels. The recommendations led to drastic changes in my evening habits allowing me to disconnect from work in the evening and I can tell it’s positively affecting my decisions running my business. I can highly recommend this program to any business leader!”

Victor van Tol, CEO, Snappcart

“The sleep session had more impact than any other workshop I’ve done. One year later, I still think of it at least 2-3 times a week. In my work, having enough sleep is crucial. I walked away with very practical tips that have become part of my daily routine.”

Yves ter Huurne, Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company

“A good night of sleep is the most critical element in maintaining a healthy mind and positive energy. Els and her team conducted a very insightful session around this topic with my senior leadership team. This session provided us with valuable insights and gave effective tools that helped us understand and improve our sleep cycle. I believe this had a very positive effect on the team energy during the very testing times of the pandemic.”

Yuneeb Kahn – Global President at NielsenIQ

“Els creates an impact on a personal level for employees as well as at scale in an organization that often resists change. The result of working with her is a more present, better connected, and cognitively better-performing workforce. Her personal experience in high-intensity work environments, coupled with deep scientific expertise, really changed mindsets and behavior.”

Filippo Rossi – Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company