For devout Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is a blessed time of year to draw closer to God. It is also a time of year to reassert close ties to family and friends through get-togethers for iftar (fast breaking meal) or tarawih evening prayers, after abstaining from food and drink all day during this blessed time of year.
The challenges of getting quality sleep
However, cramming meals and social engagements in the evening, at a time when you start winding down to sleep, can be a challenge. This factor, as well as the interruption to continuous sleep due to religious rituals during Ramadan like the sahur (predawn meal) and the dawn or subuh prayers, can make getting the 8 hours of continuous sleep that you need more difficult.
Sleep experts, among them healthline.com, highlighted the links between quality sleep and ritual fasting that is observed during Ramadan.
“Fasting puts your body on ‘standby’ so it can repair itself. Fasting is also a normal part of sleep,” said the website of the links between fasting and quality sleep in attaining a healthy life. “Since fasting happens naturally during sleep, it may help you doze off. Plus, your body continues to burn calories during sleep.”
The Al-Jazeera network added that the need for quality sleep is just as essential during Ramadan as the rest of the year. “A good night’s sleep is vital for good health. As the benefits of high-quality sleep become better understood, many scientists now feel sleep is just as important to good health as nutrition and exercise,” said the Qatar-based media outlet in its website aljazeera.com .
“Lack of sleep also promotes hunger hormones to go into overdrive, something you can do without when you are fasting.”
Finding ways to get more sleep
Al-Jazeera acknowledged that sleeping for an average of 8 continuous hours is a challenging, but not impossible, task.
“If you are struggling to get your usual amount of sleep during Ramadan, you can make up for the lost hours through the day. This may involve taking naps or being creative,” Al-Jazeera noted. “If you find yourself getting sleepy during the day, then take a 20-30 minute nap in a darkened, quiet room for the best effects”
The Gulf News media outlet reiterated Al-Jazeera. However, they observed that you should proceed with caution when napping. “It is important that people regulate their naps properly to get [their] benefit,” it said on its website gulfnews.com. “People [should] limit their naps to 20 minutes by setting an alarm, as sleeping for longer than this can be counterproductive,” and make you feel “more tired and groggy than before.”
The British Council said the key is in scheduling your sleep at night and between sahur and subuh prayer. “If you have a habit of sleeping late [at night], you better change it. Try to sleep early as you will also need to wake up earlier than in months other than Ramadan,” observes the cultural organization on its website britishcouncilfoundation.id.
“It may be better if you don’t continue sleeping because it might cause you feeling lethargic afterwards. It’s better to continue with exercise or other energizing activities.” The British Council also suggested leaving the house immediately if you have to get to the office early between 7 to 9 in the morning.
On its part, Gulf News suggested that those observing fasting and other Ramadan rituals from the early morning “should aim for at least one long block of four hours of sleep at night, ideally before waking up for suhoor [sahur], and then get a few more hours after the dawn prayer before waking up for the day.”
The outlet also of sleep deprivation, obstructive sleep apnea, and the adverse effects of smartphones and other gadgets on quality sleep in particular, and a healthy life in general.
For Muslims, Ramadan is a sacred, yet challenging time of year. Meals during the evening instead of throughout the day, as well as rituals unique to the month, interrupt the 8 hour-cycle of continuous sleep that you need for a healthy life.
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