Let’s start to think of ways we can feel happy and energized this Ramadan. There are many things that interrupt the balance in our body and hormones that impact how we feel – which includes sleep, sunlight, fresh air, activity and stress. Improve each one of these factors today, and use them to your advantage this Ramadan!
Many people replied to my “What Challenges do You Face during Fasting” question by mentioning lack of sleep. All Muslims have to change their schedules to be able to get up for Sahoor at dawn. Based on the National Sleep Foundation our body needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Even if we don’t give ourselves this much time, we won’t feel back to normal unless those hours are made up – our body carries a sleep debt.
The majority of our body functions wait until we go to sleep to start their important job of digesting, improving memory, cleansing and repairing any damages (including damages from bad foods, pesticides, smoke and other pollutants). Not giving our body this precious time to heal and repair itself will only make our health worse. Pay off your sleep debt immediately – within a day or week – by catching up with your 7 to 9 hours/day whenever you can. Learn more
“Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves” [Al-Ra’d 13:11]
We don’t usually think about sunlight because it is always there. But did you know how important it is for our well being? Not getting enough sunlight can make you depressed. Sun exposure has many benefits (and some harm) to us, but the best benefit comes from the vitamin D that is made in our body because of it. Vitamin D has hundreds of health benefits and disease preventing properties which researchers are continuously discovering!How much do we need? Unfortunately very few foods have this Vitamin and our best source is always the sun or supplements. Vitamin D is made through direct skin contact with the sun, and does not cross through windows, clothing or sunscreen. It is good to develop a habit of light sun exposure for 5 to 15 minutes (for lighter skin) or up to 30 minutes (for darker skin) for 2 days in a week. The time of day should be when the sun is not too sharp, ideally before Zuhr prayer or before Sunset. The amount of time you need to expose your skin to make enough Vitamin D depends on the colour of your skin (darker skin needs more sun exposure), your age, genes and body fat.
Be cautious: do not expose too much or very strong rays of the sun – because this can cause sunburn or further problems. It is a safe practice to regular wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or more) at other times to protect from skin cancers (especially for people who have light colored skin).
Between work, iftaar, sahoor, sleeping, meal prep and hopefully ibaadat (Quran, Taraweeh etc.) we tend to find ourselves sitting more than we need to. What you can do is get out of your seat every hour – set a reminder or stop watch on your phone to remind you every hour. Take 120 steps, count these out loud or use a steps tracker app.
Start practicing from now so it happens naturally for you when Ramadan starts
- Take a few minutes (10 – 20 minutes) to walk after Dinner and before going back to bed
- Schedule your sleeping time so that you will complete the 7 to 9 hours within 24 hours.
- Go outside to move after Sahoor or before Iftaar – you will automatically expose yourself to sunlight, but also get some fresh air and some exercise
- Make sure you do NOT go to bed right after you had your meal – this will prevent you from sleeping and give you heartburn. It may help to read Qur’an for about 20 minutes to allow time for digestion before walking.
- Follow the Sunnah and meet relatives and friends, and enjoy family time, it is proven that social interactions improve overall happiness and wellbeing.