3 Ramadan Sleep Secrets to Have Your Best Ramadan Yet

If you’ve ever felt sleep deprived or exhausted in Ramadan, it’s time to think seriously about fixing your sleep! We all know that Ramadan nights are blessed, and a time to make the most of. However, with late-night prayers and early morning suhoor, it can feel impossible to get in a proper night’s sleep to recharge your body! 
Ramadan is a “chrono-biological phase shift” for your body’s eating and sleeping patterns. This makes us feel sluggish, low energy and irritable. (Watch this video to learn more about the shift.) However, with some clever sleep hacks, you can help your body adjust to a new sleep schedule to supercharge your energy this Ramadan!
Here are three Ramadan sleep hacks to help you make the most of this Ramadan: 

1. Know your Ramadan nighttime priorities and DON’T become nocturnal:

In Ramadan, sleep opportunities are limited depending upon where you live in the world: 
Given short nighttimes between Isha and Fajr, it makes sense to squeeze in as much rest as possible at night in Ramadan. Right? However, one study found that 60% of Muslims who stayed up past 11:00pm during Ramadan — resulting in feeling tired and exhausted — stayed awake in order to socialise and watch TV. 
The Prophet ﷺ said: Whoever stands in the night prayer during Ramadan due to faith and seeking reward, then all of his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Muslim)
Ramadan nights are a special opportunity to seek forgiveness and set up your entire year for spiritual success. Prioritize worship and sleep, and avoid wasting time at night to allow your body time to recharge and ensure sufficient energy to power through this special month! 
Many Muslims self-reportedly adopt a nocturnal sleeping schedule and spend their nights eating or socializing, while sleeping during the day in an attempt to make their fasts feel “easier.” However, forcing your body into a nocturnal schedule is detrimental to your overall health and increases your risk for sickness. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the negative health effects shift-workers experience from adopting a nocturnal sleep cycle, including increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems and obesity. 
To sum it up: Don’t become nocturnal! It’s seriously bad for your health longterm. Instead, prioritize worship and sleep at night.

2. Keep a missed sleep diary in Ramadan: 

Longterm sleep deprivation is bad for your health and can lead to worsened memory and cognitive function, increased blood pressure, increased cortisol, and also makes you more likely to overeat and gain weight. So how do you deal with lost sleep in Ramadan? 
Sleep researcher Kurt VonRueden suggests keeping a “sleep diary” in which you keep track of your hours of sleep missed. Use this sleep chart from the National Sleep Foundation to figure out approximately how many hours of sleep you need per night. In Ramadan, keep track of how many hours of sleep you actually get per night. 
The difference between the number of hours you are supposed to get, minus the hours of sleep you actually get in Ramadan is your “sleep debt.”
Just like a real debt, your sleep debt continues to grow — every hour of missed sleep is added onto your debt! Researchers believe that after missing out of 20 hours of sleep, you essentially are forced into “sleep bankruptcy,” and may not be able to repair the negative effects of sleep deprivation. 
Luckily, sleep researchers argue that you can “repay” missed sleep to reverse the negative effects of sleep deprivation! This is called “repaying your sleep debt” and is most effective when you repay missed sleep quickly and in small “installments.”
Here are some tips to repay your sleep debt throughout Ramadan:
  • Use “power naps” to fill in your sleep debt. 
  • Aim to go to sleep 15 minutes earlier by taking steps to get home faster after Taraweh. 
  • For women, catch up on your sleep by 1-2 hours during your week of menstruation when you do not have to wake up for fajr.
  • Add 1-2 extra hours of sleep on the weekend when you don’t have work.
Use your sleep diary to stay on top of your sleep debt this Ramadan and avoid sleep bankruptcy! 

3. Clean up your “sleep hygiene” to improve your sleep quality in Ramadan:

“Sleep hygiene” is a medical term referring to the quality of your sleep environment. With limited time during Ramadan to sleep, sleep quality can make a huge difference!
Does your environment promote deep, restful sleep? Or does your environment take away from your sleep and make you feel more exhausted? 
One of the reasons we feel so tired during the day and we have trouble sleeping at night is because we aren’t matching our sleep and wake times with the naturally occurring environmental cues. These cues are called Zeitgebers, and they tell our bodies when to feel alert vs. when to feel sleepy.
Some examples of powerful Zeitgebers are:
  • Light
  • Social interactions
  • Eating/Drinking patterns
  • Exercise
You can think of these as “clues” that tell your body if it’s time to feel alert, or if it’s time to feel sleepy. In this article, I outline five common “sleep thieves” in your bedroom that detract from your sleep every night. Assess your bedroom environment and make appropriate changes to remove these sleep thieves before Ramadan! 
Be sure to read my full article series on Ramadan Sleep Science secrets for more practical tips on how to feel your best this Ramadan! If you have any other sleep questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram — a bit of planning goes a long way towards improving your sleep in Ramadan!
With your fitness and sleep under control, you’re ready to meet Ramadan with your best energy! Go get it! 

Author bio: Amina Khan is an award-winning fitness specialist and Founder of Amanah Fitness, dedicated to restoring health in the global Muslim community. She has been named Canada’s Top Fitness Professional of the Year for her work promoting weight loss and fitness for Muslim women around the world. Her goal is to inspire Muslims to revive the Sunnah of healthy active living! She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Health Psychology. Get her Ramadan workouts and a full fasting meal plan in her popular Ramadan Reset Guidebook and subscribe to her YouTube page for her latest Ramadan fasting fitness video series!