Recently I’ve started thinking about sleep in a different way which helped me resolve this dilemma; the answer seems to be the intention of sleep; if you’re sleeping for dunya (that is to be completely relaxed at work, home, family and to have a long healthy life), then sleeping would be very important to you and you would ensure that you sleep a minimum of 6-8 hours each night. Sleep will become sacred and the overruling factor in most of your decisions, e.g. Should I wake up for tahajjud or sleep? Sleep! Should I wake up early to work on this important piece of work or sleep? Sleep!
However, if you’re sleeping for akhirah, or sleeping for the sake of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), you’ll be sleeping just enough to give your due right to your body whilst not neglecting the fact that you’re here in this world for a temporary period and you’ll soon return to your Lord. You would try to minimize your sleep so that it doesn’t affect your worship – i.e. if you’re asking yourself whether you should sleep or wake up for tahajjud, you would choose to sleep less, you would choose the akhirah, where you would enjoy eternal rest. And this is the description that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) gives about His slaves:
They used to sleep but little by night [invoking their Lord (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope]. (Adh-Dhariyat, Chapter #51, Verse #17)
Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend (in charity in Allah’s Cause) out of what We have bestowed on them. (As-Sajdah, Chapter #32, Verse #16)
Having said that, I would like to emphasize that giving due right to your body is part of the concept of sleeping for akhirah. This is evident in the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him): (39) Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-’As: Allah’s Apostle said, “O ‘Abdullah! Have I not been informed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book #62, Hadith #127)
Subhan Allah, how balanced and practical is a true Muslim’s way of life! So you should “listen” to your body; some days you may feel energetic and happy to sleep 3-4 hours, and you’ll be fine. However, some days your body will want you to sleep for 6-8 hours whilst not neglecting your obligatory duties such as salah or tending to your parent’s and family’s needs and that’s fine.
Here are some practical tips regarding sleep:
- Always prepare for sleep, check out ProductiveMuslim’s sleep routine.
- If you can, have a nap before or after Zhuhr prayer to reduce the amount of sleep you need at night.
- Record your sleep time over a course of a week to understand your sleep pattern and how to optimize it.
Hope this helps! Have you been thinking about this issue? How did you resolve? What’s your sleep pattern like? And how can you make your sleep for akhira?