Ramadan Hack: Don’t short sleep during Ramadan
Hydrate, don’t eat before bedtime, and avoid caffeine.
Sleep shouldn’t fall down our list of priorities during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Sleep deprivation can impair the ability to think effectively, focus, react, and control emotions.
Adequate sleep — seven to eight hours of continuous sleep — is important for our overall health and well-being.
— Ghada Al-Habib, manager of Clinical Nutrition Services at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH).
Maintaining healthy sleeping patterns is one challenging aspect of Ramadan. Shifts in meal times, exercise times, and working schedules can conspire to disrupt schedules your body sets for sleeping, significantly affecting your circadian clock. Understanding all this can help you eliminate some things from your daily routine to improve sleep quality and boost productivity during the Holy Month.
Eating before bedtime
Al-Habib recommends foods such as bananas, tomatoes, almonds, walnuts, pineapples, dates, figs, honey, low fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, Laban, and whole-wheat bread for the last meal before bedtime, noting, “These foods support the body to secrete sleep hormones.”
Also, try to avoid a heavy meal right before bedtime. Such meals can cause indigestion and reflux that interfere with sleeping quality, and they can adversely increase your body temperature, which can make it difficult to fall asleep right away.
Caffeine can make it hard for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get a good night’s sleep.
Try drinking caffeine in moderation, as Ramadan offers an excellent opportunity to reduce your caffeine intake. Also, because caffeine is a diuretic, it causes kidneys to dispel more water than usual, and could make you lose water and vitamins; avoid it during Suhoor.
Ensure your water intake is distributed evenly after Iftar, and avoid drinking too much before bedtime. Water increases blood flow and maintains energy levels, but drinking too much water before bedtime can disrupt sleep. If you struggle to remember to drink water throughout the night, try setting a scheduled reminder.
Avoid exercise before bedtime
Exercising benefits body and mind, and engaging in moderate aerobics can improve your sleep. However, high-intensity exercise before bedtime triggers a higher heart rate and increases your core body temperature — both of which interfere with sleep. When your core temperature rises, it tells your body it’s time to be awake.
Make sure you don’t exercise at least 90 minutes before bedtime, as body temperature takes that long before falling after exercise, making you sleepier.
Good quality sleep is essential to our health and well-being, and following these tips — in addition to taking a short nap during the day and creating a comfortable sleeping atmosphere — can help you unwind and prepare for a good night’s sleep.