As Ramadan approaches, many will embark on a spiritual journey and inculcate compassion, sacrifice and virtues of giving, within themselves. However, it is essential to remember that the body system is used to a particular routine and fasting brings in sudden changes to the sleep patterns and diet that could potentially have huge health and social impacts. The London Sleep Centre in Dubai have a few tips on sleep techniques for everyone who will be fasting.
Avoid heavy, sugary and rich foods at Iftar
Loading your plate with calories will significantly disrupt the quality of your sleep–a heavy meal means that the body will be trying to digest whilst it needs to be sleeping and resting. Try and stick to a healthy balance of protein, fruit and vegetables, avoiding processed sugar and carbohydrates (pasta, white bread, biscuits, cake) as much as possible – or have in small amounts.
Get the same amount of sleep
Try to ensure that you get the same amount of sleep over the 24 hour period. Usually most people would sleep during the night for 7-8 hours in one block, but during Ramadan this is not possible, however try and ensure that you make up for the lost night time sleep. Take time to make a plan which you stick to as best as possible during the holy month. This may involve going to bed earlier than normal. For example, try to go to bed by 11pm and have 4 hours following Iftar, wake up at 3.30am ready for Suhoor and Fajr and return back to sleep at around 5am for 2 hours. If you are working reduced hours then this sleep can be a little longer. If not then a nap after work before IFTAR can make up for the last 1-2 hours of lost sleep. This new routine may mean sacrificing or reducing time spent socializing or on leisure activities, but your body will thank you for a new routine ensuring enough sleep. Sleep deprivation also affects hormones in the body which control appetite. When sleep deprived your appetite increases, to make fasting even more difficult.
If your energy levels are low during the working day, a power nap can be helpful. Find a quiet place away from the work station such as your car, and take a 20 minute nap. Set an alarm to ensure you do no oversleep. Try not to sleep for longer than 20 minutes during this daytime nap as your body will go into deep sleep and you will wake from this feeling tired and groggy.
With thanks to The London Sleep Centre.