30 Days of Ramadan, Day 4: Ramadan Brain

Y’all, Ramadan Brain is real.

We are just four days in and I am lethargic and forgetful.

Today, for instance, I forgot my supplies and computer charger at home – which meant I was utterly useless for half the day.

Even writing this post has my brain trying to trudge out of the fog.

Believe it or not, it’s not even the lack of food and water (although of course that’s part of it).  It’s the schedule. Remember the schedule? That schedule is crazy.

Ideally if you plan it, you can make it happen.  But the ideal doesn’t take into account random bouts of insomnia we may face with a shifting sleep and diet schedule.  The ideal doesn’t take into account the tedium of Houston traffic and the bright sun.

The ideal…is a LIE!

Dramatics aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re wondering, “then why do it?”

The simplest answer: Allah SWT.  We abstain from food and drink not for ourselves, but for God.  We go to late-night Taraweeh prayers, come home past midnight, and force ourselves to function again at 4 a.m. not because it’s a picnic – it’s for the sake of Allah SWT.

The self-discipline, the stern schedule, the stumbling and bumbling from Ramadan brain, it’s all a form of worship.  And truth be told, after the first week you just kind of fall into it. But until then, I get to dramatize the struggle!

Just kidding, it’s all caused me to think a lot (which is surprising, but a few decent thoughts actually do make it out of the fog).

For example, I am amazed every year by the ease of the discipline. Sure I get hungry, but I have no sense of lost control in the presence of food. *If you know me, you know this is definitely not the norm for me. Outside of Ramadan, you put food in front of me it’s because you don’t want to see it again.*

But during Ramadan, control is a non-issue.

Even the Ramadan brain isn’t an irritating factor, more amusing at this point (what millennial walks out the house without a charger?? I am a fail to my generation).

Another golden nugget of thought I had today: The unity of Ramadan astounds me. Right now billions of Muslims across the world are committed to enduring the same state of mind and hunger for the same reason.  We are all following the same off-chart sleeping and eating schedules, and we’re all reassessing ourselves from the last Ramadan to figure out how we need to improve from here.  I think about this every year and it amazes me every year.

Lastly, my final coherent thoughts were of what I can do to get out of Ramadan Brain. It’s understandable the first couple of days, it’s an adjustment. But Ramadan brain can’t persist throughout Ramadan.

A few things that have worked so far for me:
- half hour to one hour of light working out/yoga
- adapting to sleeping a handful of hours at a time, instead of fighting it
- eating high and slow release foods during suhoor and iftar such as bananas, granola, greens, and nuts
- cutting out something of the usual schedule. For me this is socializing. I love meeting up with friends and just breathing with like-minded people, but at this point all of my friends know that I’m not available to actually hang out during Ramadan. Even catching up on texts and messages are reserved for a specific times throughout the day to limit any kind of overwhelming feeling.

May all of our brains find their way through the Ramadan fog and start re-functioning before the next 10 days start!

Internal struggle of the day: Easy – leaving my charger at home. WHO DOES THAT NOW?!

Internal affirmation: There are some truths to be found floating around in that brain fog.

The 30 Days of Ramadan blog is written by Sobia Siddiqui, CAIR-Houston’s Operations Coordinator.

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