How to make sure you’re getting enough sleep in Ramadan

Sleep is a key ingredient of one’s wellbeing as our cells repair themselves, thus it is important to find the right balance, especially during the holy month.

Getting enough hours of shut-eye at night during Ramadan is a struggle for many Muslims that continue to work or study while fasting. In fact, sleep becomes a hot commodity for so many due to waking up at dawn every morning to eat and pray – in fact, more challenging than the fast itself. Sleep is a key ingredient of one’s wellbeing and functioning during the day. Our cells repair themselves during sleep, thus it is important to find the right balance, even during the holy month of Ramadan.

Sleep Quantity
 Here are some tips for ensuring that a balance can be found:
Sleep straight after the last prayer of the day, Isha, until waking up for the morning meal, suhoor. After praying the Morning Prayer, Fajr, return to sleep until your alarm goes off in the morning to get ready for work. For the average person, this may be 7am. Again, this translates to another three to four hours of sleep. With this routine alone, one can expect to have slept for at least six to seven hours. In fact, this is the recommended length of sleep that a person should have per night.

Sleep Quality

As well as maintaining sleep quantity over the 24-hour period, it is equally as important, if not more, to ensure that the sleep you do get is of good quality.

  • Ensure your sleep environment is quiet and dark. Earplugs and eye masks work wonders for getting into and staying in a deep sleep.
  • Diet is also important for sleep quality. Many people consume heavy, calorie-loaded and sugar-rich foods at iftar. These food types will significantly disrupt the quality of your sleep as your body will be trying to digest it when it needs to be sleeping and resting.
  • Avoid very spicy foods. The stomach lining is sensitive post-fasting. Subjecting it to spicy food while breaking the fast will cause gas and heartburn, leading to disruptive sleep during the night.

Again, moderate how much you catch up with sleep as it becomes important to keep a solid sleep routine that will follow you into the following weeks. The key to ensuring a good night’s sleep in Ramadan is to be consistent and to regulate your diet to ensure a more wholesome healthy routine.

Establishing Regular Sleeping Patterns in Ramadan

Establishing and maintaining regular sleeping patterns during Ramadan is an important step to “re-adjusting” after the holy month. Due to the unique nature of Ramadan, many people experience frequent and irregular sleeping times during the day because they stay awake during the night to perform acts of worship or sometimes to socialize.

The problem is comparable to circadian rhythm (a daily rhythmic activity cycle) sleep disorders usually experienced by those traveling eastwards or across several time zones where a passenger may suffer from circadian dysrhythmia, commonly known as jet lag.This is usually caused by the change in their bedtime and wake-up schedule, which can increase the risk of developing biological clock disorder such as delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) or melatonin secretion rhythm disorder.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland (a small endocrine gland) in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour ‘clock’ that plays a critical role when we fall asleep and wake up. When it is dark, the body produces more melatonin but its production drops when it is daylight. Being exposed to bright lights or watching TV in the evening can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin cycles and causes insomnia.

However, a person can strike a balance between sleeping and performing religious duties or socializing during Ramadan by adjusting their sleeping time schedule.

People who have a history of poor sleeping patterns may suffer insomnia and chronic biological clock disorders after Ramadan, in addition to difficulties in adjusting their reversed sleeping pattern, thus hindering their normal work or study time schedules.

When people change their sleeping and waking up pattern, they may also suffer sleepiness, headache and mood swings. Overeating, particularly eating high calorie sugary or fatty foods, weight gain, dyspepsia (indigestion), gastro-esophageal reflux or colon disorders can also increase the risk of developing sleep disorders during Ramadan.

People should gradually re-adjust their sleep and wake-up schedule over several days, especially within the last days of Eid holidays, ahead of their return to work or school to help re-synchronize the body’s biological clock.


Talking in your sleep? Here’s why!

Almost all of us have at some point been told that we were talking in our sleep the night before. It can be a disturbing thing to hear. “Did I say anything embarrassing?” we might wonder, or, “Did I spill the beans?” There’s also the possibility that our words revealed some deep subconscious desire of which we are normally unaware. In any case, we are morbidly curious: “What did I say?”

Usually, nothing interesting. Studies have found that most sleep speeches are brief, nonsensical utterances lasting just one or two seconds rather than noteworthy ruminations.

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, may occur during both the REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep phases. When it happens during REM sleep — the stage during which we dream — it’s caused by “motor breakthrough” of dream speech: One’s mouth and vocal cords, usually inactive when we’re sleeping, briefly get switched on, and words spoken by one’s character in a dream are spoken out loud. Sleep talking may also occur during “transitory arousals,” when a sleeper becomes half-awake while transitioning from one stage of non-REM sleep to another. In both cases, it happens when certain aspects of wakefulness intrude during our sleep time, allowing us to talk (but preventing us from making much sense).

It’s hard to gauge how common it is for people to talk in their sleep, because we usually sleep through the experience, and (unless we’re screaming) so do our bedfellows. Estimates vary, but studies have found that almost every child while growing up probably delivers the occasional somniloquy, however, the behavior becomes less common as we age. Other types of parasomnia, such as sleepwalking and teeth grinding, follow the same pattern. Chronic sleep-talking in adulthood is considered to be a sleep disorder, and may result from stress and other factors.

Because sleep-talking occurs during momentarily overlapping states of consciousness, it usually lasts just one or two seconds. And even when it lasts for longer, and people listening to the sleep talker hope for some deep subconscious secrets to be disclosed, it is mostly gibberish. According to the National Sleep Foundation, science and the law both consider sleep speech not to be the product of a conscious or rational mind, and it is therefore inadmissible in court.

How is talking in your sleep treated?

It is a good idea to see a sleep specialist if your sleep talking occurs suddenly as an adult or if it involves intense fear, screaming, or violent actions. You might also consider seeing a doctor if unconscious chatter is interfering with your sleep — or that of your roommates.

If you think your child has sleep problems, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

A sleep specialist will ask you how long you’ve been talking in your sleep. You’ll have to ask your bed partner, roommate — even your parents — this question. Keep in mind, you may have started sleep talking in childhood.

There are no tests needed to diagnose sleep talking. However, your doctor may order tests, such as a sleep study or sleep recording (polysomnogram), if you have signs of another sleep disorder.

Sleep talking rarely requires treatment. However, severe sleep talking may be the result of another more serious sleep disorder or medical condition, which can be treated. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

How can someone reduce his or her amount of sleep talking?

There is no known way to reduce sleep talking. Avoiding stress and getting plenty of sleep might make you less likely to talk in your sleep.

Keeping a sleep diary can help identify your sleep patterns and may help your doctor find out if an underlying problem is causing your sleep talking. Keep a sleep diary for two weeks. Note the times you go to bed, when you think you fell asleep, and when you woke up. You’ll also want to write down the following:

  • The medicines you take, and the time of day you take them
  • What you drink each day and when, especially caffeinated drinks such as cola, tea, and coffee.
  • When you exercise


Talking in your sleep can be a funny thing. Perhaps you chitchat unconsciously with unseen associates at the midnight hour. Or maybe a family member unknowingly carries on nightly conversations. We hope this article answered some of your questions if not all!



Strange but effective therapies for sleep!

Anyone who’s ever Googled “how to fall asleep” knows about the endless supply of sleep hygiene advice: tips, like “take a shower before bed” or “don’t eat after 6 p.m.”, that are meant to help clean up your bedtime routine and enhance sleep quality. Though some might be helpful, people who often suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia, need to cultivate a completely different lifestyle that pushes them towards a healthier sleep routine.

Although you might find great tips online that help you fall asleep, when you think about it these tips don’t end the root problem.  So, to understand the condition before you go on to fix it would be the first step. One must always be open to the idea of incorporating a lifestyle change that can reverse the condition because of close supervision.

Below are some of the strange-sounding, sleeping pill-free therapies a doctor may prescribe for people who can’t sleep.

Stimulus control: People tend to do stimulating things in bed that have nothing to do with sleep, like reading and watching TV. Try adopting a “bed = sleep” mantra. “When you’re in bed, you’re asleep,” says Grandner. “If you’re in bed and you’re not asleep, you get out of bed.”

The goal is to strengthen your body’s association with the bed as a place you only sleep. As we have mentioned in earlier articles as well, the bed is a sanctuary. In some cases, people may feel a bit sleep deprived in the first few weeks of practicing stimulus control, since they may have to get out of bed a few times. But it’s a core part of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which targets a person’s thoughts and behaviors for better sleep, and Grandner says the therapy is simple and powerful.

Sleep restriction: Ironic, right? “This is the worst name for an insomnia treatment, but it’s shockingly effective,” says Grandner. In sleep restriction, another CBT-I practice, a person limits the amount of time they spend in bed not sleeping.

Imagine trying to sleep eight hours a night, but only succeeding for five of them, spending three hours lying in bed awake. Using this technique, a doctor may tell you to only spend five hours in bed and then get up. Reducing the amount of time spent in bed causes some sleep deprivation, which can help a person feel more tired the next night. As sleep improves, more time in bed is added.

Paradoxical intention: It’s a fancy phrase for tricking yourself into trying to stay awake. “This is a technique used for people who are very worried about not sleeping,” says Grandner. “If you need to obsess about something, don’t obsess about trying to be asleep. Instead, obsess about trying to stay awake.” Getting rid of the frustration may help people relax and drift off.

Polyphasic sleep: The idea behind it is that humans don’t naturally sleep in one big chunk. “Traditionally, humans took naps, and even at night, sleep was often broken into 2-3 bigger chunks,” says Grandner. Some people may go to sleep early, wake up, do a task, then go back to bed—and Grandner says that’s totally normal and possibly beneficial.

Polyphasic sleep has caught on among those who think they can “hack” their sleep for more productivity by only taking short naps throughout the day. This can be very dangerous for the mind and body in the long run.

Thought challenging: Some people lay awake and convince themselves that if they don’t fall asleep soon, something horrible—like a car crash or a layoff—will happen to them the next day. One way to challenge those thoughts is to ask people how many times that has actually happened, Grandner says. By making the case that those possibilities are very unlikely, people can let them go. “It arms you with some ammunition to combat irrational thoughts,” he says.

Meditation: Relaxing through imagery, meditation or breathing exercises can help the body ready itself for rest. Mindfulness mediation, which emphasizes focusing on breath and bringing your mind into the present has been linked to a host of different health improvements, and sleep doctors think it can work for insomnia symptoms, too. “It’s all about creating some distance between you and feelings that can have a mind of their own,” says Grandner.

These are just a few unique, not tried and tested by many, ways you can experiment with if you suffer from a sleep problem.


Food or Sleep? How About Both!

What’s the first thing you’d think you need for survival? Food and water, right? Well, sleep might just be more important than food and water combined to meet the bare minimum requirement for, well, living. Today, the value of quality and quantity of sleep has been replaced by a need for accomplishing more with one’s time. Simply put, sleeping is seen as a waste of time. Although there has been raging awareness in staying healthy by maintaining a wholesome and nutritious diet, what we fail to understand is the part sleep plays in achieving that healthy lifestyle.

Say you decide to go on a fast, and so you effectively starve yourself for a week. At the end of seven days, how would you be feeling? You’d probably be hungry, perhaps a little weak, and almost certainly somewhat thinner. But basically you’d be fine.

Now let’s say you deprive yourself of sleep for a week – the result would not be the same as starving yourself. After several days, you’d be almost completely unable to function. That’s why Amnesty International lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture. Sleep deprivation attacks the mind — which is the master of our bodies. Starvation plays the long game, breaking down vital organ functions until the body simply can’t go on. Sleep deprivation robs the brain, the primary source, of the ability to execute these functions in the short and long run. So those symptoms you may suffer from in the short term transform into real conditions that impact other bodily functions as well.

So then why is sleep one of the first things we’re willing to sacrifice as the demands in our lives keep rising? Such growing demands that our placed on our lives due to work, family, and social obligations, how significant are they if your life span to perform all the same is shortened? We tend to bargain with ourselves in order to feel as if we are making the most of the 24 hours we have in each day and continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, however, research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.

Many of the effects we suffer are invisible. Insufficient sleep, for example, deeply impairs our ability to consolidate and stabilize learning that occurs during the waking day. In other words, it wreaks havoc on our memory.

So how much sleep do you need? When researchers put test subjects in environments without clocks or windows and ask them to sleep any time they feel tired, 95 percent sleep between seven and eight hours out of every 24. Another 2.5 percent sleep more than eight hours. That means just 2.5 percent of us require less than 7 hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested. That’s 1 out of every 40 people.

With sufficient sleep, we tend to feel better, work with more focus, and manage emotions better, which is good for everyone around us. It’s important to start making a conscious effort to dislike having even a single day where you haven’t gotten enough sleep, because the impact is immediate and unavoidable. On the rare days that you don’t get enough, try hard to get at least a 20-30 minute nap in the afternoon. It helps more than you can imagine.

Here are a few other tips to improve your quantity and quality of sleep:

  • Go to bed earlier — and at a set time. Sounds obvious right? The problem is there’s no alternative. You’re already waking up at the latest possible time you think is acceptable. If you don’t ritualise a specific bedtime, you’ll end up finding ways to stay up later, just the way you do now.
  • Start winding down at least 45 minutes before you turn out the light. You won’t fall asleep if you’re all wound up with responding to work mails, or doing other work. Create a ritual around drinking a cup of herbal tea, or listening to music that helps you relax, or reading a dull book.
  • Write down what’s on your mind — especially unfinished to-do’s and unresolved issues — just before you go to bed. If you leave items in your working memory, they’ll make it harder to fall asleep, and you’ll end up ruminating about them if you should wake up during the night.


Bottom line is, if you have started eating healthy to have a healthier body, it is perhaps time you start prioritizing your sleep to witness incomparable results!



From where a sleep specialist stands…

Did you know that scientists believe that anything less than seven hours of sleep can be categorized as sleep deprivation? Well, most of us, especially in Asian countries will compromise on sleep hours and sleep quality to achieve set out goals, personal or professional. However, what we do not realize while we sacrifice sleep hours and sleep quality is that sleep deprivation can result in long term chronic illnesses such as Cancer, Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s.

Everyone has that one friend in a group that barely gets any sleep because he or she might have too much to do in one day. And the way they function, quick and active, makes you believe that perhaps sleep does not affect us after all. Although in many cases the symptoms of sleep deprivation do not surface until one starts to witness continuous, long term symptoms but it is recommended by all sleep specialists that the younger generation take preemptive measures to avoid it from getting worse.

A sleep Scientist in the US spent four and a half years writing a book Why We Sleep, a complex but urgent book that examines the effects of this epidemic close up, the idea being that once people know of the powerful links between sleep loss and, among other things, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, they will try harder to get the recommended eight hours a night. But, in the end, the individual can achieve only so much.

“No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation,” he says. “It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families. When did a doctor prescribe, not sleeping pills, but sleep itself? It needs to be prioritized”.

In today’s day, time is short. So what people do is try to fit in sleep hours within their daily schedules, and if there isn’t enough time, then they simply skip it. You can see the manifestation of this on a flight, where ten minutes into the air and almost everyone is knocked out.

Why, exactly, are we so sleep-deprived? What has happened over the course of the last 75 years? In 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep a night; in 2017, almost one in two people is. The reasons are seemingly obvious. “First, we electrified the night,” Walker says. “Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish, but longer commuter times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead. And anxiety plays a part. We’re a lonelier, more depressed society. All these are the enemies of sleep.”

But Walker believes, too, that in the developed world sleep is strongly associated with weakness, even shame. “We have stigmatized sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honor. When I give lectures, people will wait behind until there is no one around and then tell me quietly: ‘I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours’ sleep.’ It’s embarrassing to say it in public. They would rather wait 45 minutes for the confessional. They’re convinced that they’re abnormal, and why wouldn’t they be? We chastise people for sleeping what are, after all, only sufficient amounts. We think of them as slothful. No one would look at an infant baby asleep, and say ‘What a lazy baby!’ We know sleeping is non-negotiable for a baby. But that notion is quickly abandoned [as we grow up]. Humans are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.” In case you’re wondering, the number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without any impairment, expressed as a percent of the population and rounded to a whole number, is zero.

The world of sleep science is still relatively small. But it is growing exponentially, thanks both to demand (the multifarious and growing pressures caused by the epidemic) and to new technology (such as electrical and magnetic brain stimulators), which enables researchers to have what Walker describes as “VIP access” to the sleeping brain.

Less Sleep = Less Life

The evidence Walker presents, however, is enough to send anyone early to bed. It’s no kind of choice at all. Without sleep, there is low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health. More than 20 large scale epidemiological studies all report the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. To take just one example, adults aged 45 years or older who sleep less than six hours a night are 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime, as compared with those sleeping seven or eight hours a night (part of the reason for this has to do with blood pressure: even just one night of modest sleep reduction will speed the rate of a person’s heart, hour upon hour, and significantly increase their blood pressure).

Other Conditions

Getting too little sleep across the adult lifespan will significantly raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The reasons for this are difficult to summarize, but in essence it has to do with the amyloid deposits (a toxin protein) that accumulates in the brains of those suffering from the disease, killing the surrounding cells. During deep sleep, such deposits are effectively cleaned from the brain. What occurs in an Alzheimer’s patient is a kind of vicious circle. Without sufficient sleep, these plaques build up, especially in the brain’s deep-sleep-generating regions, attacking and degrading them. The loss of deep sleep caused by this assault therefore lessens our ability to remove them from the brain at night. More amyloid, less deep sleep; less deep sleep, more amyloid, and so on. (In his book, Walker notes “unscientifically” that he has always found it curious that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, both of whom were vocal about how little sleep they needed, both went on to develop the disease; it is, moreover, a myth that older adults need less sleep.) Away from dementia, sleep aids our ability to make new memories, and restores our capacity for learning.

And then there is sleep’s effect on mental health. When your mother told you that everything would look better in the morning, she was wise. Walker’s book includes a long section on dreams (which, says Walker, contrary to Dr. Freud, cannot be analyzed). Here he details the various ways in which the dream state connects to creativity. He also suggests that dreaming is a soothing balm. If we sleep to remember (see above), then we also sleep to forget. Deep sleep – the part when we begin to dream – is a therapeutic state during which we cast off the emotional charge of our experiences, making them easier to bear. Sleep, or a lack of it, also affects our mood more generally. Brain scans carried out by Walker revealed a 60% amplification in the reactivity of the amygdala – a key spot for triggering anger and rage – in those who were sleep-deprived. In children, sleeplessness has been linked to aggression and bullying; in adolescents, to suicidal thoughts. Insufficient sleep is also associated with relapse in addiction disorders. A prevailing view in psychiatry is that mental disorders cause sleep disruption. But Walker believes it is, in fact, a two-way street. Regulated sleep can improve the health of, for instance, those with bipolar disorder.

Steps every individual suffering from sleep deprivation needs to take

So what can the individual do? First, they should avoid pulling “all-nighters”, at their desks or on the dance floor. Second, they should start thinking about sleep as a kind of work, like going to the gym. We should start thinking of midnight more in terms of its original meaning: as the middle of the night. Schools should consider later starts for students; such delays correlate with improved IQs. Companies should think about rewarding sleep. Productivity will rise, and motivation, creativity and even levels of honesty will be improved. Sleep can be measured using tracking devices, and some far-sighted companies in the US already give employees time off if they clock enough of it. Sleeping pills, by the way, are to be avoided. Among other things, they can have a deleterious effect on memory.