Daytime sleepiness during Ramadan intermittent fasting: polysomnographic and quantitative waking EEG study

J Sleep Res. 2003 Jun;12(2):95-101. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2869.2003.00341.x.


During the lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset. We reported previously that Ramadan provokes a shortening in nocturnal total sleep time by 40 min, an increase in sleep latency, and a decrease in slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep duration during Ramadan. During the same study, the effects of Ramadan intermittent fasting on daytime sleepiness were also investigated in eight healthy young male subjects using a quantitative waking electroencephalograph (EEG) analysis following the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) procedure. This procedure was combined with subjective alertness and mood ratings and was conducted during four successive experimental sessions: (1) baseline (BL) 15 days before Ramadan, (2) beginning of Ramadan (R11) on the 11th day of Ramadan, (3) end of Ramadan (R25) on the 25th day of Ramadan, (4) recovery 2 weeks after Ramadan (AR). During each session, four 20-min nap opportunities (MSLTs) were given at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00 h and were preceded by rectal temperature readings. Nocturnal sleep was recorded before each daytime session. Subjective daytime alertness did not change in R25 but decreased in R11 at 12:00 h, and subjective mood decreased at 16:00 h, both in R11 and R25. During the MSLT, mean sleep latency decreased by an average of 2 min in R11 (especially at 10:00 and 16:00 h) and 6 min in R25 (especially at 10:00 and 12:00 h) compared with BL. There was an increase in the daily mean of waking EEG absolute power in the theta (5.5-8.5 Hz) frequency band. Significant correlations were found between sleep latency during the MSLT and the waking EEG absolute power of the fast alpha (10.5-12.5 Hz), sigma (11.5-15.5 Hz) and beta (12.5-30 Hz) frequency bands. Sleep latency was also related to rectal temperature. In conclusion, Ramadan diurnal fasting induced an increase in subjective and objective daytime sleepiness associated with changes in diurnal rectal temperature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / epidemiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Fasting*
  • Holidays / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Islam*
  • Polysomnography / instrumentation*
  • Rectum
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wakefulness / physiology