Gateway to all Ramadan related posts on MM
Guest Post (edited version) by Bint Abdullah
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.
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!