The Effect of Fasting on Sleeping
Tips on Sleeping Well for a Better Ramadan
Ramadan brings plenty of uplifting experiences—the awareness of God in meeting the challenge of fasting throughout the day, the joys of breaking our fast with family and friends, the increased sense of community, and the spiritual highs of more prayer and reading the Qur’an. Out of the grace of God, good deeds are easier to do, the mosques are packed, and even fasting can feel easier as our bodies become accustomed to it as the month progresses.
Persevering throughout the month requires us to take notice of our body’s needs so it can serve our spiritual needs better. Just as we should pay attention to when and how we consume in the month, we need to do the same with our sleep.
1. Get enough hours in a consolidated block of sleep
The longer we are awake, the more we accumulate sleep debt or the pressure to fall asleep. Everyone has a different physiologic need in terms of the total sleep hours they need. Generally it is recommended to have a consolidated block of sleep at night and a short nap in the afternoon if you get sleepy (if that afternoon nap does not affect your ability to fall sleep at night). Getting in a consolidated block (e.g 4-5 hours) of sleep at night could make it easier to wake up for suhur and salatul-Fajr.
2. Get daylight to strengthen your circadian rhythm
Increase your exposure to sunlight, especially in the first half of the day. Even as little as 10 minutes can help and the early morning is the best. This will help re calibrate your body clock to a more natural rhythm and better sleep pattern.
3. Avoid artificial light at night, including electronic devices and entertainment
Avoiding or decreasing exposure to artificial light will also strengthen our circadian rhythm. Make sure your bedroom is dark when you sleep.
Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom. The easiest and most effective way to prevent this is to keep your bedroom gadget and screen free. Make the last hour before bed an electronic curfew/digital-free time to allow your body to prepare for sleep.
4. Eat right
A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can also interrupt sleep.
5. Do Wudu (Ablution) before you sleep and sleep in a state of dhikr (Remembrance of God)
Performing wudu may also aid in falling asleep as it may cause a shift in body temperature. Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature. This is the same reason a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can also be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again.
6. Sleep in the right position
It is recommended to sleep on the right side while facing the Qiblah if possible and keeping the right hand placed under the right cheek as per the practice of the Messenger ﷺ. From a medical standpoint, people sleep better on their side and worst on their back if they have sleep apnea. Side sleeping can improve the quality of sleep by reducing sleep apnea and snoring.
7. Take the short mid-day nap (Qaylulah) of the Sunnah
The risk of heart disease is shown to be greatly reduced by regular 30 minute naps. The Qaylulah can be about 15 to 30 minutes in duration. A 15 minute nap is enough time to turn the nervous system off and can recharge the whole system. For those who work, using the lunch break to find a spot or the car to catch a half hour nap will go a long way in improving productivity.
8. Have a regular bed and wake time, even on weekends
One of the best ways to train your body to sleep well is to go to bed and get up at more or less the same time every day, even on weekends and days off. This regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your body something to work from.
9. Have a sleep ritual
You can develop your own rituals of things to remind your body that it is time to sleep. Some people find it useful to do relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15 minutes before bed each night, or sit calmly with a cup of caffeine-free tea.