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Sleep and Ramadan: Optimizing Recovery During the Holy Month

Ramadan is a time of spiritual devotion, but for athletes, it also presents unique challenges. Maintaining peak performance while fasting requires careful planning and adjustments. One crucial aspect often overlooked is sleep.


Girl not able to go to sleep.
Sleep difficulties may arise during Ramadan period due to changes in routine, especially for athletes needing to optimize training during the holy month.


Why Sleep Matters More During Ramadan

Sleep is a cornerstone of physical and mental recovery. During sleep, the body repairs tissues, replenishes energy stores, and consolidates memories. For athletes, quality sleep is essential for optimal muscle growth, improved reaction times, and enhanced focus.

However, Ramadan disrupts the body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Early morning Sahur meals can fragment sleep, leading to reduced sleep duration and quality. Additionally, changes in eating patterns and increased thirst can contribute to sleep disturbances.

Research suggests that athletes experience decreased sleep duration and quality during Ramadan [1]. This sleep deprivation can negatively impact athletic performance, reaction times, and increase injury risk [2].

Prioritizing Sleep Hygiene for Ramadan Athletes

Here are some science-backed tips to ensure a good night's rest during Ramadan:


  • Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Wind down before bed with calming activities like prayers, meditation, or light stretching. Avoid screens and stimulating activities for at least an hour before sleep.

  • Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains, earplugs, and a comfortable mattress.


Dark bedroom with lights on.
Optimizing your bedroom environment helps you to go into sleep faster.

  • Sahur Strategies: Avoid heavy meals and sugary drinks close to bedtime during Sahur. Opt for easily digestible foods rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. Stay hydrated by consuming water throughout the pre-dawn meal.

  • Post-Iftar Considerations: Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy meals close to bedtime after breaking the fast. Allow enough time for digestion before sleep.

  • Power of Naps: Short naps (20-30 minutes) during the day can help combat fatigue and improve alertness. However, avoid long naps that can disrupt nighttime sleep.


Food during Ramadan period.
Managing our food nutrients and quantity during sahur and iftar can be beneficial to maintaining sleep

Conclusion

By prioritizing sleep hygiene practices and making strategic adjustments throughout Ramadan, athletes can mitigate the impact of fasting on sleep quality. Remember, a well-rested body and mind are essential for maintaining optimal performance and achieving long-term training goals during the holy month. Sources:

  1. Sleep Quality and Performance in Professional Athletes Fasting during the Month of Ramadan https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8295756/

  2. Sleep Restriction and Athletic Performance https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29135639/

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