Ellie Land in collaboration with Professor Peter Oliver

Sleep. Do we get enough? The latest developments in circadian biology research are uncovering the detrimental effects that a lack of sleep can have to our well-being.

Sleepless is the result of a two year conversation between artist Ellie Land and scientist Professor Peter Oliver about the links now being discovered between sleep and mental health. Its rhythm is inspired by the circadian cycle and displays visual icons rooted in the science of sleep, whilst featuring the voices of a group of mental health service users who share their experience of disrupted sleep/wake patterns.

Ellie Land

Ellie Land is an award-winning animation director and is Senior Lecturer in Animation at Northumbria University. Her practice and research is in the field of animation and documentary.

Ellie’s work is renowned for its boldness in portraying difficult subject matters using animation. She often uses innovative collaborations with the people her films are about.

Her films have been showcased around the world at festivals such as Ottawa International Animation Festival, Canada; Fantoche, Baden, Switzerland; and Hiroshima International Animation Festival, Japan, and have been curated at exhibitions in venues such as the V&A and ICA. Her awards include Best Non-Factual from the Royal Television Society, UK and Best Animation from Scinema International Festival of Science Film, Australia.

Ellie recently worked on Iain Cunningham’s part-animated feature documentary Irene’s Ghost, which was supported by the BFI and the Wellcome Trust.

Professor Peter Oliver

Professor Peter Oliver holds a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Bath and received a PhD in mammalian genetics from the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research, London. In 2000, he joined Professor Kay Davies’ group in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at the University of Oxford, where his research focused on understanding novel gene function in the brain, using the mouse as a model system. He was recently awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant and has established his own group in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford.

Peter’s research involves gene function in the brain and the consequences of gene dysfunction in disease, with focus on the relationship between sleep and mental health.


Hear from the artist and scientist about their collaboration, their individual interests, and the science behind the collaboration.



Find out more about the science behind the collaboration, with glossary terms, activity sheets and information about the research that inspires the film.