Establishing and maintaining regular sleeping patterns during Ramadan is an important step to “readjusting” after the holy month, according to a consultant of Hamad
Medical Corporation (HMC).
Dr Abul Aziz al-Hashmi, consultant of pulmonary diseases and sleep disorders, said, “Due to the unique nature of Ramadan, many people experience frequent and irregular sleeping times during day as they stay awake during the night for worship or socialising.”
He said the problem is comparable to circadian rhythm sleep disorders usually experienced by those travelling eastwards or across several time zones where a passenger may suffer from circadian dysrhythmia, commonly known as jet lag.
Dr al-Hashmi said this is usually caused by the change in their bedtime and wake-up schedule, which can increase the risk of developing biological clock disorder such as delayed sleep phase syndrome or melatonin secretion rhythm disorder.
“When people change their sleeping and waking-up pattern, they may also suffer sleepiness, headache and mood swings,” he said.
“Overeating, particularly eating high calorie sugary or fatty foods, weight gain, dyspepsia, gastro-esophageal reflux or colon disorders can also increase the risk of developing sleep
disorders during Ramadan.
“Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour ‘clock’ that plays a critical role when we fall asleep and wake up,” he said, adding: “When it is dark, the body produces more melatonin but its production drops during daylight. Being exposed to bright lights or watching TV in the evening can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin cycles and causes insomnia.”
However, Dr al-Hashmi said a person can strike a balance between sleeping and performing religious duties or socialising during Ramadan by adjusting their sleeping time schedule.
“People who have a history of poor sleeping patterns may suffer insomnia and chronic biological clock disorders after Ramadan, in addition to difficulties in adjusting their reversed sleeping pattern, thus hindering their normal work or study time schedules,” he said.
Dr al-Hashmi advised people to gradually readjust their sleep and wake-up schedule over several days, especially within the last days of Eid holidays, ahead of their return to work or school to help re-synchronise the body’s biological clock.