Every year, in the month of Ramadan, healthy Muslims are obliged to fast. Dietary changes and activities during Ramadan can affect the biological hours and metabolism of our bodies. As a result, you may often be sleepy during fasting.
Why are we often sleepy during fasting?
The sleepy during fasting is caused by a change in circadian rhythm aka the biological clock of the body. The circadian rhythm itself is the work schedule of the various systems and organs of the human body. For example, body organs should work hard at present and should rest within a certain period.
The circadian rhythm that regulates the wake-up cycle in humans is the most readily observable cycle of everyday life. This rhythm is governed by the hypothalamus nerve located in the human brain. Various studies show that the body needs sleep to stay healthy and maintain physical and social functions, therefore sleep patterns are connected to how people perform during the day.
The month of Ramadan requires Muslims to fast during the day. This could have an impact on changing sleep patterns. Activities such as eating, drinking, social interaction, and sports are often suspended until the night, reducing bedtime and sleep quality during Ramadan. This change, although not severe, can cause a person to be sleepy or not concentration during the day.
Why does the circadian rhythm of the body change during fasting?
Dietary changes from the beginning three times a day to two times a day at night, accompanied by increased activity at night, can alter the metabolism of one’s body, such as the body’s core temperature and sleep patterns. The coincided Ramadan month with summer in a country near the pole can cause a fast time to increase compared to the dry or cold season, therefore changes in life patterns can be more felt.
Some studies have shown that fasting can lead to changes in circadian rhythm. While fasting, the body’s core temperature and the production of cortisol hormone during the day decreases, and melatonin hormone production is also reported to decrease during fasting. Keep in mind, melatonin is the primary hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles by changing the core temperature of the body, whereas cortisol called ‘ stress hormones ‘ helps us to stay awake during the day.
From 2 to 4 pm is a time of sleepy prone to fasting
In Ramadan, Muslims often delay their sleep to have more time to eat, drink, chat and do other activities at night. Also, in the fasting month, there is also tarawih worship that can add to the suspension of sleep for some people. Eating habits and snacking on the night during fasting, as well as physical activity or exercise, can increase the body’s core temperature which leads to sleep disturbances at night.
The above things eventually resulted in a change of sleep patterns in the month of Ramadan. Research shows that on average there is a delay of one hour of sleep in the fasting month, and the sleeping time decreases by a total of 30-60 minutes which eventually causes the person who fasting drowsiness during the day.
Examination using the EEG-based Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) indicates that drowsiness is mainly felt in hours 14:00 to 16:00 in the fasting person. This leads to an increase in the frequency of NAP to threefold in the month of Ramadan, although this condition usually returns to normal in 15 days after fasting. The absence of caffeine and nicotine intake during the day can also increase the drowsiness in some people.
How to get around the sleepy during fasting?
Fasting should not be a reason for us to decrease work performance or at school during Ramadan. We must thus make a challenge to improve our next performance. Here are some tips that can be done to keep it fresh during the day during fasting.
- Create a fixed sleep schedule at night and try to make it during Ramadan. Lack of sleep can cause the body to have a “sleeping debt” so we are sleepy during the day.
- Try to exposure to sunlight during the day to strengthen the circadian rhythm of the body.
- Avoid the light from the gadget screen or television before sleeping a night.
- Keep the diet, because the balanced diets can make you sleep well. Some people can not sleep with an empty stomach, so a small snack can be recommended, but a large meal can interfere with sleep. Some sources recommend drinking milk because the content of tripcyclone in milk can trigger drowsiness.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks at least 4 hours before bedtime.
- Nap if needed, sleep for 15-30 minutes enough to rest the body to keep it fresh during the day.