LONDON: Muslims endure headaches for a variety of reasons during Ramadan, the most prevalent of which are usually: Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, caffeine withdrawal and sleep deprivation.
Many people believe that eating a large sugar-packed meal around sahoor time will help their blood sugar levels throughout the day, but it won’t. Eating a large, sugary meal will spike your insulin levels so much so that you will overproduce insulin, which leads to your body feeling hungry soon after. Once your blood sugar levels drop, you will “crash” and feel rubbish, tired and likely have little energy. This fluctuation in blood sugar levels can be avoided by opting for slow release (low glycemic index) energy-rich foods that keep your blood sugar levels stable.
On to dehydration, it is difficult to consume enough water during Ramadan to combat fasting hours, but it should be your main focus to keep a bottle of water nearby and consume little and often when you can during your non-fasting hours. Dehydration and the loss of sugar and salts in the body can cause a myriad of problems: Headaches, lethargy, weakness in muscles, dizziness, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever and in severe causes you can end up losing consciousness. The key to avoiding these issues is to keep on top of your water intake and only drink water. Stay away from high sugar and caffeine-filled sodas that will only dehydrate you further.
Caffeine withdrawal is often overlooked when trying to combat headaches during Ramadan but you will likely be surprised how much a sudden reduction in caffeine can affect you. Caffeine consumption causes blood vessels to narrow, which is why your heart rate increases. Reducing caffeine intake allows blood vessels to open up and increases blood flow to the brain. This sudden change in blood flow can cause painful withdrawal headaches as the brain adapts to the increase in blood flow. A gradual reduction of caffeine use in the weeks leading up to Ramadan, as well as a cup of strong coffee immediately before the fast begins, may help reduce headaches. And remember, as the month of Ramadan goes on, your body should start to regulate and the headaches should subside.
Sleep deprivation is another factor that can cause many harmful effects, including headaches. Regulating sleeping hours during Ramadan, avoiding staying up late and making sure to take a nap during the day will definitely help. Stay in cold places during the day and avoid the sun or hot places as and where possible. Reducing time spent on electronic devices will help you get off to sleep easier and will also help aid in the quality of your sleep. Lack of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is linked to more painful headaches, so it is vitally important that getting a good night’s sleep is focussed on.
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