Sleep is a huge issue during Ramadan, with people sleeping less and having worse sleep quality, due to fasting, changes to mealtimes, socializing and more.
“During the Holy Month of Ramadan, many people find that their sleep is disturbed by late-night prayers, pre-dawn meals, social gatherings and work,” says Dr Ruhil Badiani, a family physician at Dubai’s Cornerstone Clinic.
“People can often find themselves losing up to 90 minutes of sleep a night. So how can you manage the reduction in sleep?”
Here, Dr Ruhil gives us her top tips on getting quality rest during Ramadan, from avoiding spicy food to ditching TV and video games.
Sleep for longer
According to experts, the longer you spend in the land of nod, the better-quality rest the body receives as it moves into the deeper stages of sleep. During deep sleep, the body repairs muscles, bones and tissues, while promoting immune system functioning.
Typically, the body moves into deep sleep within 90 minutes of drifting off, repeating in cycles that shorten as the night goes on.
“Shorter naps are not as good as longer sleeps so try to get at least four to five hours uninterrupted every night and go back to sleep for a couple of hours after your pre-dawn meal,” says Dr Ruhil.
“Plan an adjusted sleep routine and aim to sleep and wake around the same time every day to allow for a more restful sleep.”
Take a nap
Though nothing compares to quality consolidated sleep, naps are a useful way to boost energy in the short term and are an effective tool for passing the time between meals.
Nap timings are also very important for maximizing consolidated sleep between iftar and suhoor.
“Naps are useful through Ramadan and 20 minutes can help you to feel recharged if you are flagging,” says Dr. Ruhil.
“Try to have your nap around midday is possible as later on in the afternoon can also disrupt sleep.”
Avoid heavy food
Overindulgence at iftar should be avoided at all costs to avoid sleep disruption, according to Dr. Ruhil.
“Heavy, fatty foods that are spicy or sugary can affect your sleep as well as carbonated drinks,” she says. “Have smaller lighter meals for suhoor and iftar to avoid feeling lethargic after eating.
“Try not to eat just before you sleep to allow your body enough time to digest food as this can affect the quality of your sleep. Caffeine should also be avoided for several hours before bedtime.
“Finally, make sure you stay very well hydrated through the night as lack of hydration can lead to a disturbed sleep.”
Avoid blue light
As well as a good diet and the right timing, the sleeping environment is also key to achieving a good night’s sleep in Dr. Ruhil’s experience.
“Screens should be avoided for at least an hour before bed,” she says. “The light from our screens can delay the transition to sleep, even if it is a soothing activity. Texting, television shows and video games further stimulate the brain which can negatively impact sleep.”
“If you must use the screen, make sure to turn down the brightness but if possible, avoid them completely in the evenings. Consider reading a book, taking a bath or taking part in any other relaxing activity that will lead to a better quality of sleep.”