Getting enough sleep is important in maintaining our everyday health, wellbeing and general ability to function well throughout the day. During the Holy Month, our normal sleep schedule can be disrupted by social gatherings and activities, which often can run late into the night - altering our sleeping and eating habits. This can upset our biological clocks and affect our general health in a number of ways.
Some of the most common effects of lack of sleep are as follows:
- Headaches and mood swings
Our body maintains a circadian rhythm – an internal 24-hour clock that plays a critical role when we fall asleep and wake up. Any changes in our sleeping pattern can disrupt this rhythm, often resulting in mood swings and short-temperedness, and for some, making them more susceptible to headaches and migraines.
- Impact on cognitive function
Getting proper rest helps us to think clearly, retain and recall information, and aids our decision-making. When we don’t get enough sleep, it becomes more difficult to concentrate and pay full attention, our reaction times slow down, and even our creative and problems-solving abilities can be impacted.
- Weight gain
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Program Lead for Caregiver Wellbeing, Dr. Muneer Alobeidli, says, “Sleep deprivation causes changes to the hormones that control appetite and hunger. In addition to hunger pangs, lack of sleep can affect your decision-making when it comes to what to eat, often leading to giving in to cravings for fatty, sugary junk food, and making weight gain more likely.”
Tips for better sleep during Ramadan
- Try to get consolidated sleep
Longer blocks of sleep are more beneficial than multiple short naps for getting sufficient rest. Try to sleep for at least 4 hours at night after Iftar, before waking for Suhoor and Fajr – and return to sleep for a couple of hours before getting up for the day ahead.
- Try to regulate your sleep pattern
Try planning an adjusted sleep routine for Ramadan so that you’re sleeping and waking at around the same time every day. This will help your body get into a rhythm for more restful sleep.
- Grab a power nap
A 20-minute power nap in the afternoon can revive flagging energy and focus levels. Set an alarm as over-sleeping can make you feel groggy and even sleepier than before your nap.
- Watch what you eat and drink
Avoid eating heavy, fatty or sugary foods at Iftar – your sleep can be disrupted as your body works overtime to digest your meal. Very spicy foods can also be bad news for restful sleep as they can cause gas and heartburn.
Avoiding caffeine for several hours before bedtime can also aid a restful sleep.
- The right sleep environment
A quiet and dark space is ideal for falling and staying asleep. Avoid using electronic devices such as your mobile phone, laptop and TV close to bedtime as studies suggest that the blue light from screens can interfere with quality sleep.