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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Sleep well during Ramadan or risk serious health problems, say UAE doctors

A lack of sleep can weaken the immune system’s defences and raise the risk of developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes

One way to better sleep is to try and avoid stimulants such as coffee, fizzy drinks and chocolate. Getty
One way to better sleep is to try and avoid stimulants such as coffee, fizzy drinks and chocolate. Getty

Doctors have warned people about the importance of getting good quality sleep during Ramadan or face an increased risk of developing serious health problems.

Studies show that up to 90 per cent of people in the UAE are not getting enough sleep, with less than half of residents getting seven hours a night.

A lack of sleep can weaken the immune system’s defences and raise the risk of developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, say doctors.

During Ramadan, people’s sleep cycles are disturbed as many people stay awake for long periods at night that result in physiological changes in the body – leaving them even more at risk of health problems.

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Read more:

Fasting in Ramadan: 'Don't break your fast with salty processed food'

Everything you need to know in Ramadan in the UAE

Workplace Doctor: Do non-Muslims have to work full hours during Ramadan?

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“We usually do more deep sleep in the beginning of the night and more dreaming at the end of the night,” said Dr Hady Jerdak, Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine at Medcare Hospital.

But during Ramadan, the normal sleep cycle is disturbed by waking early for suhoor, eating heavily before sleep and then sleeping in late, he said.

However, there are a number of steps people can take to ensure a better quality of sleep, he says – and many of them centre around what you eat before you sleep.

it is important that people avoid eating heavy, calorie-loaded and sugar-rich foods at iftar, as it can affect the quality of sleep.

“Also avoid very spicy foods and fried foods,” said Dr Jerdak.

Coffee and caffeine-containing products are also a bad idea, as they are stimulants and can interfere with sleep.

And processed and salty foods should also be avoided as they are high in sodium and will cause dehydration.

Dr Jerdak suggests that people try to sleep at least two hours after Iftar and that they avoid having a don’t have a heavy suhoor if they plan to sleep after it.

“Sleeping in a way to ensure that we stay awake after suhoor is beneficial since sleeping after a heavy meal is not healthy,” said Dr Jerdak.