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The Prophetic Sleep Routine

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This week, I am going to help you earn rewards while you sleep, bi’idnillah!  

It really is an excellent way to earning reward as a third of our lives are spent in bed. 

As long as the following conditions are met, you will be rewarded:

  1. Sleeping with the right intention 
  2. Following the Sunnah of the Prophetic sleep routine

The Power of Good Intention

It’s true, most of us are not aware of the power of having the right intention. If you set your intention correctly, you may receive more rewards from this than from your own deeds. 

Incredibly, just by maintaining good intentions, you can earn as many rewards from worldly activities as well as acts of worship. 

When Muad ibn Jabal (RA) was asked to describe his night prayer, he said, “I expect Allah to reward me for my sleep, just as much He rewards me for my tahajjud.” 

When he would go to sleep, he would intend, “Oh Allah, to worship you perfectly, I have to rest my body. So thank you for this blessing of sleep, and I’ll wake up to pray thahajjud for you.”

So before you sleep, remember to set your intention. Perhaps you may earn more rewards then while you are awake. 

The Prophetic Sleep Routine

Before I discuss this, I would like to point out that we don’t have a recorded sleep routine for our Beloved Prophet (PBUH). So, in actual fact, we cannot claim that he was doing precisely these steps every night before he slept.

But we do have many sleep-related authentic narrations from him. This is just a construe based on those authentic narrations.

We know from the Sunnah that the Prophet (PBUH) would go to sleep early, soon after ‘Isha. He disliked engaging in conversation after ‘Isha. He (PBUH) used to dislike sleeping before ‘Isha and speaking afterwards. (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet’s (PBUH) day ended soon after ‘Isha. He wouldn’t spend his time socializing or engaging in any worldly matters. He would spend some time with his family and then would get ready to go to bed.

So when it was time to sleep:

1. He (PBUH) would make wudhu before going to bed

Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whenever you go to bed, perform ablution like that for the prayer, and lie on your right side” (Saheeh Muslim)

2. He would switch off the lights before sleeping

It is narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Put out lamps when you go to bed, shut the doors, and cover water and food containers” (Saheeh Al-Buhari)

This may correspond with the current scientific understanding that it is essential to maintain a dark environment during sleep so as not to disrupt the circadian rhythm and assist in the production of melatonin. 

3. He would dust and clean the bed before sleeping

Prophet (PBUH) said, “When anyone of you goes to bed, he should take hold of the edge of his lower garment and then should clean (his bed) with the help of that and then should recite the name of Allah” (Saheeh Muslim)

4. He would make loads of dhikr and recite a part of the Quran before sleeping

Here you will find a list of all the supplications and Surahs he (PBUH) recited just before sleep.

5. He would sleep lying on his right side, placing his right hand under his cheek

He (PBUH) said, “Whenever you go to bed, perform ablution like that for the prayer, and lie on your right side” (Sahih Muslim). In another hadeeth in Sahih Muslim, it is narrated that when he wants to go to sleep, he (PBUH) would place his right hand under his cheek.

And we Muslims know that following the Sunnah in all spheres of our life leads us to great glory in both worlds. Scientists now testify that this simple act of lying on the right is good for your heart! Subhanallah!

So let’s try to follow this beautiful Sunnah and make our sleep a means of ‘ibadah!

Did the Prophet (PBUH) Sleep Eight Hours a Night? 

In What Islam Says About Sleep, we discussed that Quran and Sunnah emphasize the importance of sleep. So you may wonder, whether or not Islam also instructs us how many hours to sleep. 

When worldly matters are concerned, Islam provides us with the framework on how to live a successful life but doesn’t force us with any details. 

For instance, Islam says “eat halal and good food, but don’t overeat”. The objective of this general framework is to help you preserve and maintain good health. So anything that potentially harms your health (for instance, consuming too much sugar) should be avoided to one’s best of ability. 

Similarly, the goal of sleep is to rest well and recuperate. A good night of sleep improves all sorts of health markers. However, sleep deprivation does harm to your health. From the past articles, we discussed how science confirms that sleeping less than seven hours a night on a regular basis harms your health. 

Based on the general Islamic framework and the scientific confirmation of the hazards of sleep deprivation, I would argue it’s Islamic to sleep at least seven hours a night. 

Now coming back to the question, whether the Prophet (PBUH) slept for eight hours a night regularly, we don’t have a definitive answer. I do have a rough number in my mind based on some calculation, but that’s just my calculation. What we know for sure about his sleep routine is this: 

  • He used to sleep soon after Isha
  • He used to pray in the last third of the night. It was obligatory for him.
  • He used to be very regular with day time naps. His naps helped him to be awake during night prayer. 

What Muslim Scholars Say About Sleep 

I was keen to know what Muslim Scholars say about sleep. I found the following passage from the Madaarij al-Saalikeen of Imam Ibn Al-Quyyum to be very profound. 

Here is a small summary of what he said about sleep (the bullet and formating are mines): 

The fifth corrupter is: sleeping too much, for it deadens the heart, makes the body heavy, wastes time, and generates a great deal of carelessness and laziness. Some of it is very makrooh, and some are harmful and brings no benefit to the body.

Here are some of his top recommendations: 

  • The most beneficial of sleep is that which comes when the need for it is greatest. 
  • He recommends going to bed early and to rise early. He said, “sleeping at the beginning of the night is better than at the end, and sleeping in the middle of the day is better than sleeping at the beginning or end of the day.”
  • Sleeping after sunset and after ‘Asr is less beneficial and more harmful. He says “Among makrooh kinds of sleep in their view is sleeping between Fajr prayer and sunrise, because that is a precious time. This time is of great benefit for those who are devoted to Allaah; even if they had been worshipping all night, they would not allow themselves to stop at that time until the sun has risen, because it is the beginning of the day when provision comes down and is divided, and blessings are bestowed. That is the beginning of the day and the whole day depends on what happens during that time, no one should sleep at that time unless he is compelled to.”
  • As for sleeping after Maghrib (straight after sunset until the twilight has disappeared), he says it’s makrooh, and the Prophet (PBUH) disliked that.
  • As for resisting and avoiding sleep, he says “it will lead to other problems such as bad moods, muddled thinking, and exhaustion that prevents one from understanding and working properly. And it can lead to many fatal illnesses, whereby a person will not be able to think properly and will feel physically weak. Creation is based on balance, and whoever adheres to moderation has achieved all goodness.

Then he sums up with the following passage: 

To sum up: the best and most beneficial of sleep is sleep during the first half of the night, and the last sixth, which is equivalent to eight hours. This is the best sleep, according to doctors. Anything more or less than that will have a proportionately detrimental effect on the body, in their view. 

Takeaway Lesson

  1. Sleeping with the right intention allows us to earn rewards while sleeping
  2. The way the Prophet (PBUH) slept is in line with modern scientific recommendations for good sleep
  3. According to Muslim Scholars, the best and most beneficial of sleep is sleep during the first half of the night, and the last sixth, which is equivalent to eight hours.

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