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.
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.
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.