From our patient letter  "Pain Free News"

Last updated on January 27, 2021

When Keith Richards (guitarist in the Rolling Stones) was younger, he had one strange habit.

He would often stay awake for days on end.

Regularly 3 or 4, sometimes a week. His record, if I remember right, was 12 days without sleep!

During recording sessions, he remembers feeling sorry for those around him who had to go off to bed every night. They were wasting their time sleeping, while Keef worked on. He was fond of calculating how much extra life he was experiencing due to his extending waking hours.

His regime is an extreme example. However the mindset behind it is, I think, quite common. We tend to nibble away at our sleeping time because we make everything else in our lives more important.

Going without sleep in some jobs is taken as a sign of commitment. Rest can always wait until the pressure is off.

But, perhaps this is wrong.

Do we underestimate how important getting enough sleep is to our health? While Keith Richards is undoubtedly still alive, he not exactly a picture of health.

Sleep deprivation is known to cause low immunity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and many other problems.

Poor sleep is often a factor in back pain and other problems we treat.

There is much advice out there on how to improve sleep. My top tip is to get up at the same time every morning. Your body clock doesn't have holidays or weekends. You confuse it by varying your sleep pattern from day to day. Try keeping the same waking time, and you'll be amazed by how more rested you feel.

Philip Hambly