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As Ramadan approaches, doctors say it is essential to remember that the body is used to a particular routine and fasting brings in sudden changes to the sleep patterns and diet that could potentially have huge health and social impacts. It has been reported that three hours prior to Iftar are the most dangerous on UAE roads, as lack of food, nicotine and sleep causes people to drive erratically and with a lack of concentration.

Here are some tips to counter sleep deprivation:

Avoid heavy, sugary and rich foods at Iftar Loading your plate with calories will play havoc with your sleep. A heavy meal means that the body will be trying to digest while it needs to be sleeping and resting. Try and stick to a healthy balance of protein, fruit and vegetables. Avoid processed sugar and carbohydrates (pasta, white bread, biscuits, cake) as far as possible.

Get the same amount of sleep Try to ensure that you get the same amount of sleep over a 24-hour period. Usually most people sleep 7to 8 hours in one block during the night, but during Ramadan this is not possible. Doctors advise making up for the lost night time sleep. This may involve going to bed earlier than normal. For example, try to go to bed by 11pm and sleep 4 hours following Iftar, wake up at 3.30am ready for Suhoor and Fajr and return to sleep at around 5am for 2 hours. If you are working reduced hours then this sleep can be a little longer. If not then a nap after work before Iftar can make up for the last one to two hours of lost sleep. This new routine may mean sacrificing or reducing time spent socializing or on leisure activities, but necessary for your body. Sleep deprivation also affects hormones in the body which control appetite. When sleep deprived your appetite increases, which makes fasting even more difficult.

Power naps If your energy levels are low during the working day, a power nap can be helpful. Find a quiet place away from the work station, and take a 20-minute nap. Set an alarm to ensure you do no oversleep. Try not to sleep for longer than 20 minutes as your body will go into deep sleep and you will wake from this feeling tired and groggy.

Information courtesy: The London Sleep Centre, Dubai