Getting enough sleep can be tough all year round, and the challenge only gets harder when it comes to Ramadan, when late night prayers and waking early for pre-dawn suhoor makes getting a healthy eight hours almost impossible.
Lasting from the first observed crescent moon to the next, Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, lasts twenty nine or thirty days.
So how can you ensure that you sleep well and continue waking refreshed right through to Eid? Is it possible to enjoy peaceful and happy Ramadan nights without missing out on family feasts and late night prayers? Read on for our tips for your most restful Ramadan yet.
What is Ramadan? Ramadan Facts and Figures
Observed by most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims(i), Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Celebrating the Islamic Prophet Muhammed’s first revelation and the start of what would become the Qur’an, Ramadan is a time during which Muslims come together for prayer and reflection. A key component of this religious observance is fasting, or sawm, which takes place from dawn to sunset each day.
- Ramadan’s dates are dictated by the moon. Because the Islamic lunar calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan occurs eleven days earlier each year
- Ramadan days are shorter or longer depending on where in the world you live. In countries experiencing midnight sun or polar night, Muslims observe Ramadan along with Mecca or according to the fast observed in the next closest country(ii)
- The holiest night of the Islamic year Qadr (sometimes called the Night of Decree or Night of Power) is the night when the Qur’an was first sent from Heaven. Qadr is celebrated by most Muslims on the 27th night of Ramadan (iii)
- In the Middle East and North Africa, the working day is often reduced during Ramadan, however in other areas Muslims continue to go to work and school as normal
So why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
Speaking of which, you might have read about the possible health benefits of intermittent fasting (iv). There are also spiritual benefits too. Ramadan gives Muslims the opportunity to enjoy spiritual reflection and experiencing hunger during fasting is one way to do this. By reducing food consumption throughout the period of Ramadan, Muslims find they can empathise with less fortunate people. In fact, as part of this reflection, Muslims are encouraged to increase their donations to charities during this period. Many Muslims choose to give the 2.5% Zakat (another one of the five pillars of Islam) during Ramadan too. Zakat is a form of obligatory charity giving, which sees followers of Islam giving 2.5% of their savings to charitable causes.
How Ramadan Can Affect Sleep
The lifestyle changes of Ramadan have long been linked to increased tiredness, with some people reporting that they find day-to-day functioning more difficult during this period. In fact, a study into the effects of Ramadan observance on athletes showed that even in the healthiest among us, the fasting and altered sleep times of Ramadan doesn’t just reduce the duration of sleep but may also impair sleep quality (v).
We all know that not getting enough sleep can make us grouchy, reduce our productiveness and cause us to be less alert. But worst of all? A lack of sleep can impact our hormone levels, increasing appetite and may make Ramadan fasting even tougher.
Sleeping Well During Ramadan: The Best Ways to Rest
Now we know how a lack of rest can affect us during Ramadan, let’s look at some ways to maximise sleep:
Make a schedule
A realistic sleep schedule may involve going to bed earlier than usual or working more sleep into your morning after suhoor. Be realistic and keep in mind those things you’ll need (and want) to make time for.
A quick snooze after work and before iftar could make getting through the evening just that bit easier. Power napping works for many people and requires just twenty minutes out of your day.
While you might be ready for bed at 11pm during Ramadan, your family may not be. Invest in good earplugs and an eye mask to block out light and noise.
Prepare your bedroom
Being organised is a real time saver. Be sure you have a comfortable bed and all the bedding you’re likely to need – extra blankets or a lighter duvet to suit sleep at different times of day – ready before Ramadan begins. It’s also sensible to make your bed or change bedding in the morning so you won’t be faced with a chore when all you want to do is sleep.
Ask for support
Let friends and family know about your sleep schedule before Ramadan begins to minimise the need to explain those early exits. It’s also worth giving bosses or teachers a heads up so they can give you any support you might need.
Sleeping Well During Ramadan: Food, Drink and Exercise
Sleeping well is about more than timings. Here are some ways your lifestyle can support better sleep:
Opt for oily fish, rice and nuts
Certain foods are thought to aid sleep. Among those are fatty fish(vi), certain types of nuts(vii) and white rice(viii). Opt for these when eating late at night to help your body ready itself for a good snooze.
We don’t need to tell you that caffeine will keep you awake. Drinking black coffee may not break the Ramadan fast but it could keep you up at night with its stimulant and diuretic effects lasting for several hours (ix).
Limit spicy, sugary and fatty foods
We know it’s especially hard at this time of year but try to limit your intake of spicy foods which can inflame the sensitive post-fast stomach lining. Sugar-laden and fried Ramadan favourites like samosas or stuffed dates can also disrupt sleep so keep consumption to a minimum.
Work exercise into your day
Keep exercise gentle when you have less fuel for it. During Ramadan, swap slogging it out on the treadmill for brisk walks or short yoga routines, both of which can give you a boost without blowing precious energy reserves.
Protect your mental health
Meditation and prayer won’t only support important Ramadan reflection, they may also help you to feel grounded and calm when times are tough. Those quiet moments can also prepare a stressed body and mind for better sleep.
Prepare for Ramadan at Bensons for Beds
Make sure you’re getting the best night’s sleep possible right through to the end of Ramadan and beyond by consulting the bed experts at Bensons for Beds. Whether it’s in your local store or online we can help you to choose the right mattress for you and your room with in-depth guidance on sizing, comfort ratings and much more. We’ve also got plenty of advice for getting a great night’s sleep at any time of year in our Sleep Hub.
To talk beds or to place an order from the comfort of home just give us a call on 0808 144 6160.