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Just in Time: A Homebody’s Guide to Beat Ramadan Hibernation

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Guest Post (edited version) by Bint Abdullah

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I’ll be spending Ramadan at home this year, since I’ve finished school, and haven’t met success in my job-hunting yet. So, I have entered a totally different routine. While school’s tight study schedule, academic hustle-bustle kept me occupied, helping me avoid the Ramadan slack, what’s worrying me most now is the recurrence of evil ‘It’ – the dreaded weakness to oversleep.

Digital-Alarm-Clock

Perhaps, others share in this with me. Perhaps mothers who send off their kids to school and are pretty much done with the morning chores, when the unkempt bed in the middle of the room fogs the brain of the beholder to call them once again to itself. And the poor home-maker is deceived, “Just this bit of tiredness off me and I’d be up like a spring board to carry on from there…” But does that bit of time ever arrive except until late morning or early afternoon?

From a personal perspective, I’d wake up all swollen-eyed, with only half of my head functioning, and the other half aching. And when fasting, the food from the morning Suhoor, inflating and burning my insides– bloating me. What a loss of a day and fruitful hours! Then one is too demotivated and overcome to move beyond that point; matters worsen as one bashes himself/ herself to further inability. Precious hours reduce to dust and period of inactivity – a blessed time of the day that could have well been utilized reading the Quran, seeking knowledge, doing charity work, etc. If the demotivation becomes reactionary then the number of hours multiply into days– a thought too horrific to imagine!

Putting it in discrete terms, there are two aspects of this issue 1) How to wake up early? 2) How to stay awake after waking up?

Resolving Issue 1

Alhamdulilah, issue 1 is addressed quite intelligently by popular personal development blogger Steve Pavlina here. Plus, our very own Sheikh Muhammad al-Shareef has left us all revved up and jolted with his practical tips and wise advice in this recent ilminar session.

Go to bed when the body is too tired to stay awake, but automate your wake up times so that you get up the same time every day. Of course, we’re all too familiar with snooze and excuse, but enter now the subconscious realm and train the mind to catapult you out of the bed and that’s just what the alarm means and nothing else.

A few tips on this – keep your alarm at a place where you know that its ringing will spur havoc, where you’d have to walk ten steps to shut it, and where your bed, the sucking monster disappears in the background. Shut it and keep walking, till you reach that place of ease – the bathroom.

Now, would you want to undo all that you achieved a minute ago? Certainly not! So go ahead, go inside splash some cool water on your face and make wudu. That’ll cause some activation of the brain, and you’d be a step up in sense-making.  It’s the prayer in a semi-loud voice that unties the final knot – go ahead accomplish that and you’re a free man/ woman! This is only day one; the practice has to continue for a few weeks more to lock in.

Resolving Issue 2

So, why is staying awake after Suhoor in Ramadan different from wakefulness in other days? Simply because, stimulants that typically chase away sleep such as a cup of tea/ coffee, a treadmill run, a chewing gum, etc. aren’t there to stimulate! There has to be other forms of effective energy boosters to serve as substitutes??

Before moving on, let’s consider some reasons why we want to crawl back to bed on a Ramadan morning?

–          Self-pity: “I’m not getting enough food or sleep.”

–          Self-indulgence: “Too much food has made me sick/ dizzy.”

–          Self-weakness: “My nocturnal self took the better of me.”

… and the list goes on.

I now present an amateur’s scribbles, some tips to confront the situation. At the psychological frontier the battle is on, it’s you against yourself minus the Satanic lulls.

–          Treat Suhoor as breakfast and not dinner, so that la-la-land is the last thing on your mind.

–          Refrain from entering a dark room until daybreak, and avoid proximity with sleeping individuals.

–          Read/ listen to the Quran in high volume, to stimulate your mind.

–          Expose yourself to some sunlight and witness ‘the resurrection of nature’

–          Proceed with your daily activities as normal – you know it, don’t you? Nothing’s different.

–          If you work out in the mornings on a regular basis, don’t break off the habit. Of course you have to be moderate but a 15 minute mild to brisk walk is enough to get you sweating and liven up those last lazy bits.

–          Make your Ramadan plan engaging: everybody plans Ramadan differently, just make sure you’re not passive, so if you’re planning to finish a series of lectures, make sure you’re taking down some notes to keep yourself engaged. There’s a lesson in this – the ears don’t shut for sleep.

–          If you’re reading a book, read it out aloud, pace the room up and down from time to time.

Lastly and humbly, it’s always a good idea to give one’s fasts a test try – the pre-Ramadan, Sha’baan training for discipline to avoid startling the body and to build the spiritual momentum for a jump start and just in time for Ramadan. Too late for that now, but a tip for next Ramadan :)

Wishing you a happy Ramadan!

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    BrownS

    September 6, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    Jazakillahu khair for this article, and especially for the links on managing sleep and wakeup times. It links to another one of his posts that describes a solution I’ve never seen before (actively conditioning yourself to wake up on hearing an alarm). Every now and then I have issues with sleep and productivity so I’ll definitely be trying this out inshaAllah.

  2. Avatar

    'Uthmaan

    September 6, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    JazakAllahu Khayran. This was very well-written and contains some very useful tips!

  3. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    September 6, 2009 at 1:55 PM

    these are some good practical common sense tips that we need..

    From myself I’ve noticed the same thing written as far as going to sleep is just a natural thing…you can’t FORCE it. However, waking up i something that you CAN force to do type of thing, it just sucks doing it when you super tired…which seems to be always<—-Shaytaan.

    Walking to the Masjid/riding bike to the masjid is a great way of waking you up (b/c of biological activity that is excited), as well as running from the car back into the house type of thing. Staying up in your own house is the worst, especially when everybody else is sleep b/c you feel like you the only one living at the time, and it’s quiet etc. Staying in well lit room, and not your bedroom is some great advice as well.

    Anyways, good post. Jazakomullahukhair.

    • Avatar

      UmFulaanah

      September 9, 2009 at 2:38 PM

      What a sweet Topic..

      “Staying up in your own house is the worst, especially when everybody else is sleep”

      For some people this isn’t entirely the case…=D
      I, for instance LOVE it when my family is asleep after suhoor… I Just feel like I have a few hours to accomplish something… but obvoiusly with the thought of going to bed for several more hours when the world is awake around me… BAD BAD HABIT.. But a start..

      In-Sha-Allaah.. I’ll relate to this article for kicking away that silly habit..

  4. Avatar

    Sarah

    September 6, 2009 at 4:29 PM

    Wow…I just fell asleep in the library while cramming for an exam. Annoyed with myself and seeking stimulation, I went online to read something productive and not related to Molecular Cell Biology…and came across this! Lets see if I have any success with these tips…

  5. Avatar

    DI

    September 6, 2009 at 11:21 PM

    Salam aliekum,

    When Ramadan comes around, I don’t get all weak…or hibernate like a bear…I turn myself into a “spiritual animal” or an “angelic animal”…juggernauting and eating up the baraka, no concessions or holding back or being “moderate.” This lion doesn’t know anything about being moderate in ibada! :D

    One of the better solutions I have found is to take a shower as soon as you get up. This will wake you up, give you a boost in spirits and energy and really get rid of the sleepiness stuck in your eyes.

    Drink lots of water at suhoor too–like CHUG IT!

  6. Avatar

    Asad

    September 7, 2009 at 6:38 AM

    SubhanAllah! One of the most useful posts I have read on MM (Well, it relates directly to my situation :p). JazakAllah for posting and I will work to implement this without restraint. Ramadan is my perfect chance for change isA!

    JZK for the article once again and GREAT sources used!

  7. Avatar

    Sara

    September 8, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    JazakAllah! I can totally relate! I am in the same situation as you; graduated from college, and now sending out resumes/cover letters like crazy. And, in the process, my sleeping pattern has completely changed. A few things that help me stay up: First, I drink a strong cuppa chai (yes, chai works better for me than coffee, and doesn’t have many side effects). This helps me stay up after Suhoor. And, like someone else suggested, taking a shower early in the morning takes care of laziness/sleepiness and all. Second, listening to tilawat helps. Here’s an amazing website: http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/ArabicScript/sindex.htm It’s at a good pace, so you can keep up with it. Third, after a couple of days of staying up after suhoor, inshAllah, one can start sleeping early at night. Usually, after taraveeh prayers, I am exhausted, and I just crash. Hopefully this helps! :o)

    Happy fasting.

  8. Avatar

    UmmQ

    September 8, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    mashaAllah so beautifully written!

  9. Avatar

    BInt Abdullah

    September 9, 2009 at 2:29 AM

    JazakAllahu Khair everyone for your valuable feedback :) The post was published just when I needed my own nasiha to myself…the tawfiq to implement is from Allah SWT

  10. Avatar

    Sarah

    September 9, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Awesome article. I know that I’ve definitely been guitly of Ramadan hibernation….the bed just gets too alluring! Some days I fnd myself getting up for Suhoor, comforting myself with the thought that I can hit the sheets again soon..bad bad! This article’s really given me the kick up the behind I need to make the most of those beautiful Suhoor hours. InshAllah I’m gonna add some more sunrises into my life…

  11. Avatar

    Bismillah

    September 10, 2009 at 1:55 AM

    Bismillahirrahmanirrahim

    What a wonderful article. Mashallah. Its simple and lucid english, combined with its thoughtful ideas, show the great mind of the author. I will recommend this book to anyone I see sleeping after Suhur. This book grasped my heart and shook it like a 9.8 magnitude earthquake shakes the land, it destroyed the barriers between me and my Lord, shattered the towers of sloth, uprooted the slime of sluggishness and left the land and waters of my heart feeling anew, pristine and alone in their natural setting.

    Wassalam,
    the undersigned

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