Ramadan 2021

How to manage your sleep during Ramadan

Dr Supriya Sundaram/Dubai
Filed on April 21, 2021

(Reuters file)

Getting good quality sleep during Ramadan is a major challenge for many.

Sound sleep is essential to our health and our day to day functioning. However, in the holy month of Ramadan, getting the right quantity and quality of sleep is not easy.

Studies have shown that lack of sleep can reduce alertness, cause mood disturbances and increases one’s risk of injury.

The effects of intermittent fasting in Ramadan affecting sleep has also been extensively studied. Sleep has various domains in its architecture. Falling asleep when lying in bed is called sleep latency and this tends to increase during the holy month. Total sleep time is also decreased. Another important change seen during Ramadan is the sleep-wake hormone Melatonin. While Melatonin levels showed the same wave during the holy month, their levels significantly dropped from baseline. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep duration, which is deep sleep, is also reduced. All these changes are attributed to a change in drinking and meal patterns rather than altered energy intake.

Lack of sleep is seen to impact workplace efficiency. Coupled with daytime tiredness, an increase in road traffic accidents also have been reported due to lack of sleep.

Getting good quality sleep during Ramadan is a major challenge for many.

Some suggestions include taking a power nap during the day. The nap should not be longer than 20-25minutes as one may go into deep sleep and wake up feeling even more tired.

A nap is usually helpful if you are driving a long way home before Iftar. Going to bed early after Iftar and making sure the environment is quiet and dark is also helpful.

Diet is also crucial for sleep quality. If the Iftar meal is high in calorie and volume, the brain and body will remain active as the food gets digested. Avoiding fried foods and spicy meals will certainly help. This goes for Suhoor too. Since the caffeine cycle is altered during this time, avoiding too much Caffeine will preserve the quality of sleep. Drink plenty of water instead.

Lastly, shift workers and emergency service workers need special mention. They are probably the hardest affected during this time. Keeping the faith and being efficient at work can be difficult. So they need our support and understanding.

Careful planning of your sleep schedule around your work schedule will ensure a successful and healthy Ramadan.

- Dr Supriya Sundaram is a sleep medicine consultant at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi. She was actively involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and has been a Royal College Tutor for Medicine

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These prayer timings are for Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. For Abu Dhabi, add four minutes. Deduct four minutes for Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain, and six minutes for Fujairah.

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