For A Fresh Fast | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 10, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 10, 2015

For A Fresh Fast

Coming back home around 10 or 11 at night, after a heavy iftar, a world full of shopping, traffic and human stampedes, one's mind may wander into the thoughts of sweet, sweet slumber. That thought is soon interrupted by a worse thought- 'sleeping now will only make me feel groggy and ill-willed for the much important meal- suhoor.'

Attempts at staying awake till suhoor (usually taken around 2:30-3am) will include dosing off in front of the television, computer screen, cell phone, forcedly opened eyes facing the pages of a book, or sometimes bugging the rest of the family and chit-chatting the night away. Then it's finally time for suhoor and it only takes about 15 minutes. 3.15 am– can't sleep now either. One must be awake till Fajr azaan- not just for prayer, but also to make sure you get those final sips of water in before you begin fasting again. Once that's over with, it's finally time for the sleep we've been waiting for. We then wake up next morning, already late for work, with the sleep still comfortably nestled in our eyes. “It's going to be another groggy day.”

During Ramadan, keeping your sleep cycle on track is one of the most difficult tasks. And as the fast makes us hungry and fatigued, the sleeplessness makes it ever so worse. Throughout the month, we must try and adjust ourselves into a brand new sleep cycle; one we can easily get out of once Ramadan is finished.

Sleep is nothing but a reversible state of reduced awareness, motor activity and metabolism. On an ordinary night, we go through 4 to 5 cycles of sleep, each lasting 90-120 minutes. But during Ramadan, this cycle gets affected. In addition, daylight fasting during the summer months results in several issues. Among them is a reduced level of mental activity or daytime attentiveness, because of which working hours are cut short by schools and offices. Studies have shown that daytime sleepiness, which is common during Ramadan, peaks between 2pm and 4pm. If someone who is fasting does not rest enough, it can have a serious impact on health and social life, leading to heightened anger, irritability, arguments and even road accidents.

The key lies in adjusting to the changed routine. It is acceptable to take a nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon, during weekends, but not in the morning. At night, it is recommended that those who are fasting go to bed by 11 pm. 11 pm to 3 am will give one four hours of proper sleep. An hour can be easily given to suhoor and prayer. After which, once in bed by 4 am (excuse the habit of caffeine after suhoor if you have one), till 8 am will be another 4 hours. And 8 hours of sleep should be enough to keep us going through the day.

The sleeplessness in Dhakaites is one of the reasons for hearing loud, angry curses on the roads during this month. Even after knowing that we must refrain from anger now, it is very difficult when the mind and body are both so fatigued. With this new sleep routine, it will be easier for everyone to keep a sane mind and fast with the best and freshest of spirits!

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