Prophet’s Guidance on Sleeping & Waking up – Tibb-e-Nabawi

Prophet’s Guidance on Sleeping & Waking up

اللَّهُمَّ إنِّى أسْلمتُ نَفْسِى إليكَ، ووَجَّهْتُ وجْهىِ إليكَ، وفَوَّضْتُ أمرى إليكَ، وألجأْتُ ظَهْرى إليكَ، رَغبةً ورَهبةً إليكَ، لا ملجأَ ولا مَنْجا منك إلاَّ إليكَ، آمَنتُ بكتابِكَ الذى أنْزَلْتَ، ونبيِّكَ الذى أرْسلتَ

Prophet’s Guidance concerning Sleep

Those who read about our beloved Prophet’s guidance concerning being awake & concerning sleep will find that his sleep was the best and most beneficial for the body, the organs & one’s strength. He used to sleep in the early part of the night and would wake up in the beginning of the latter part, use Siwaak, perform ablution and pray as much as Allah Permitted him. Consequently, the body, organs and one’s strength will acquire their fair share of sleep, rest & physical activity, along with acquiring the complete rewards from Allah. This method ensures righteousness for the heart and body, in this life & the Next life (Aakhirah).

Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam did not oversleep or deprive his body of necessary sleep, making his method in this regard the most perfect. He used to sleep when sleep is warranted and would lay on his right side and remember Allah in supplication until sleep overwhelmed his eyes. In addition, his body would not be burdened with overeating or overdrinking. He neither slept on the bare floor, or on high beds. Rather, he had mats made of leaves, used to lean on a pillow and would sometimes place his hand under his cheek.

We will now elaborate on the beneficial and harmful methods of sleep.

Sleep is a condition during which the body’s instinctive heat becomes idle, so that the body gets some rest. There are two types of sleep, normal and abnormal. Normal sleep entails resting the inner powers and the senses. When these powers are idle, the body refrains from its usual activity and thus the vapors and wetness that were moving and decomposing while awake would ascend to the brain which is the residence of these powers. The brain then becomes idle, and this is the normal type of sleep.

Abnormal (i.e. heavy) sleep occurs because of an accident or a disease. In this case, the excess wetness will take over the brain in a manner that prevents the person from waking up easily. Or, excessive amounts of vapor and moisture ascend to the brain, just as what happens in the aftermath of overeating and overdrinking, and cause the brain to relax and thus the person goes to sleep.

There are two benefits in sleep: the senses get to rest from fatigue that overtakes them, in this case, senses will rest from the tiresome activity that occurs when one is awake. The second benefit is digesting food and leading the various mixtures, conditions or temperaments to maturity (processing bodily wastes). While one is asleep, his instinctive energy or heat concentrates on the digestion process and this is why the body gets cold and needs a cover while a person is asleep.

The best type of sleep is to sleep on right side, so that the food sits in the stomach comfortably, for the stomach leans to left side as we have stated. One can also sleep on his left side a little, so that the digestion is made faster because the stomach leans on the liver. One should then turn again on his right side to help the stomach push the food down by this way; a person starts and ends his sleep while laying on his right side. Sleeping on the left side regularly harms the heart, because the organs of the body will exert pressure on the heart with their weight.

One of the worst types of sleep is on the back, although resting while lying on the back without going to sleep is not harmful.

Sleeping on the stomach is the worst way to sleep, Ahmad and Ibn Majah narrated that Abu Umamah Radi Allaho Anh said:

وفى “المسند” و”سنن ابن ماجه”، عن أبى أُمامةَ قال: مرَّ النبىُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم على رجُلٍ نائم فى المسجد منبطح على وجهه، فضرَبه برجله، وقال: “قُمْ أوِ اقْعُدْ فإنَّهَا نومةٌ جَهَنَّمِيَّةٌ”. (حديث ضعيف)

“Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam passed by a sleeping man in the Masjid who was lying on his face (stomach) and he touched him with his foot, saying: “Sit up, for it is a Jahannamiah (Hellish) sleep” (Weak Hadith).

Good habits of sleeping help the natural powers of body to fulfill their tasks and strengthen the psychological health of the person. Sleeping during the day is bad for health and causes humid ailments, makes the color pale, ails the spleen, softens the nerves, causes laziness and weakens desire, except during the summer time around noon. The worst type of sleep occurs in the early hours of the day and in the afternoon, Ibn e Abbas Radi Allaho Anh once saw his son sleeping in the early morning and said to him, “Wake up, do you sleep at the hour during which sustenance is being divided”?

نوم النهار ثلاثة: خُلقٌ، وحُرق، وحُمق. فالخُلق: نومة الهاجرة، وهى خُلق رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم. والحُرق: نومة الضحى، تُشغل عن أمر الدنيا والآخرة. والحُمق: نومة العصر. قال بعض السَّلَف: مَن نام بعد العصر، فاختُلِسَ عَقلُه، فلا يلومنَّ إلا نفسه

It was said that sleeping during the day is of three types; good habit, which entails sleeping around noon; careless habit, which occurs in the early morning and keeps one busy from matters of this life and the Next Life; and madness, which occurs after Asar prayer (afternoon). This is why some of our Salaf said, “Those who sleep after Asr prayer and lose their minds should only blame their own selves”.

Sleeping during the early morning prevents sustenance from coming, in that the early morning is the time when the creation goes out to seek their sustenance. Being asleep during this time in which sustenance is being divided causes one to skip this chance of gaining sustenance, except when one sleeps for a necessity or a need. This type of sleep is very harmful for the body because it causes numbness in the senses and spoils the stomach’s contents that are getting decomposed. Further, sleeping in the early morning hours causes numbness and a general weakness in the body, especially if one goes to sleep before relieving himself (using the toilet), moving about, performing physical activity and before having the stomach busy (by eating some food). This itself is a difficult ailment that even leads to more ailments.

Sleeping under the sun excites dormant ailments, and such is the case with sleeping while part of the body is under the sun and part of the body is under the shade. Abu Dawood narrated that Abu Hurayrah Radi Allaho Anh reported; that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) said;

وقد روى أبو داود فى “سننه” من حديث أبى هريرة، قال: قال رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “إذا كان أحدكم فى الشَّمْسِ فَقَلَصَ عنه الظِّلُّ، فصار بَعْضُهُ فى الشَّمْسِ وبَعْضُهُ فى الظِّل، فَلْيَقُمْ”

“If one of you was in the shade and then the shade recedes and exposes a part of the body to the sun, while the other part is still under the shade, let him move from that place”. (Al-Hakim)

Ibn-e-Majah & Abu Dawood also narrated:

وفى “سنن ابن ماجه” وغيره من حديث بُريدَةَ بن الحُصَيب، “أنَّ رسولَ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى أنْ يقعُدَ الرَّجُلُ بين الظِّلِّ والشمس”، وهذا تنبيه على منع النوم بينهما.

“The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) disallowed sitting between the shade and the sun”. This Hadith also indicates that it is not allowed to sleep while partially in the shade and partially under the sun.

Furthermore in the Sahihain, it is narrated that Bara’ Bin Aazib said that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) said :

وفى “الصحيحين” عن البَرَاء بن عازِبٍ، أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: “إذا أتَيْتَ مَضْجَعَكَ فتوضَّأْ وُضُوءَكَ للصَّلاة، ثم اضطَّجِعْ على شِقِّكَ الأيمنِ، ثم قل: اللَّهُمَّ إنِّى أسْلمتُ نَفْسِى إليكَ، ووَجَّهْتُ وجْهىِ إليكَ، وفَوَّضْتُ أمرى إليكَ، وألجأْتُ ظَهْرى إليكَ، رَغبةً ورَهبةً إليكَ، لا ملجأَ ولا مَنْجا منك إلاَّ إليكَ، آمَنتُ بكتابِكَ الذى أنْزَلْتَ، ونبيِّكَ الذى أرْسلتَ. واجعلْهُنَّ آخر كلامِكَ، فإن مِتَّ مِن ليلتِك، مِتَّ على الفِطْرة”.

“Whenever you go to bed, perform ablution like that for the Salaat (prayer), lay on your right side and say “O Allah, I surrender myself to You, turn my face towards You, entrust all my affairs to You and depend upon You for Your Blessings, both with hope (in You) and fear of You. There is no fleeing from You and there is no place of protection and safety except with You, O Allah, I believe in Your Book (the Quran) which You Have Revealed and in Your Prophet (Muhammad) whom You Have Sent. Make these words the last of your speech, because if you die on that very night, you will die on the Faith (i.e. on the religion of Islam)”.

In addition, Bukhari narrated that Aishah Radi Allaho Anha said:

وفى “صحيح البخارى” عن عائشة أنَّ رسولَ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، “كان إذا صلَّى ركعتى الفجرِ يعنى سُنَّتَها اضْطَّجَعَ على شِقِّه الأيمنِ”.

When the Messenger of Allah (Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam) would pray the two (voluntary) Rak’ah of Fajar (Dawn), he would lay on his right side”.

It was said that the wisdom behind sleeping on the right side of body is that the person does not oversleep. Since the heart leans towards the left side, then sleeping on the right side prevents the heart from residing in its normal place thus causing the sleeping person to wake up when he feels restless. Sleeping on the left side makes the heart more comfortable than its requirement and thus the person over-sleeps and misses out on the affairs of his life & religion.

Since sleeping is similar to death, it is not possible or suitable for the Ever-Living ALLAH Who Does not Die. Furthermore, sleeping is not suitable for the residents of Paradise. While asleep, people need to be protected from every type of harm or affliction, and since only Allah is Able to Fulfill this need, Prophet Muhammad Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam taught us to supplicate to Allah with words of reliance, fear and eagerness before going to sleep. With these valuable words, one invokes Allah’s prefect protection for himself and for his body. Prophet Muhammad Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam directed us to remember our faith in Allah and making such heavy words the last of our speech at night. Since one might die in his sleep, he then will enter Paradise if these words of Faith were the last words he uttered in this world.

Our beloved Prophet’s guidance in this regard has included the benefits of the heart, body and soul while awake and asleep and for this life and the Next Life. Allah’s peace and blessings be on Prophet Muhammad Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam; whose Ummah (Nation) has acquired all types of good through him.

The Prophet’s statement: “أسلَمتُ نفْسى إليكَ”

“I submit myself to You” means that I surrender myself to You just as the owned slave surrenders his freedom to his Master.

Further; turning the face towards Allah means directing one’s full attention to the Lord with sincerity & with the intention and while affirming being a slave, being humble and obedient to Him, Allah said:

فَإنْ حَآجُّوكَ فَقُلْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِىَ للهِ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ

“So if they dispute with you (O Muhammad), say: “I have submitted myself to Allah (in Islam), and (so have) those who follow me.” (3:20)

The face is the most honorable part of the body and the residence of the senses and awareness.

Referring matters to Allah means submission and contentment in the heart, while being pleased with what Allah Decides and Chooses of what He Wills and with what He is Pleased with. Referring all affairs to Allah is one of the honorable parts of slavery to Allah.

Leaning your back to Allah indicates your strength of dependence and trust in your LORD. He who leans his back to a firm foundation will not have fear of falling down.

The heart has two types of strength, seeking, which is eagerness, and running away, which is fear. The slave seeks his interest and runs away from whatever might harm him. Therefore, Prophet Muhammad Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam has joined both powers in this Hadith by saying “With eagerness and fear”. “رغبةً ورهبةً إليك”

Prophet Muhammad Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam then praised the Lord by stating that the slave has no refuge or resort from Allah except Allah. Allah is the One Whom the slave seeks refuge with, so that He Saves His slave from Himself. In another Hadith, Prophet Muhammad Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam said:

“اَللهُّمَ اِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِن سَخَطِكَ، وبمُعَافَاتِكَ من عُقُوبَتِكَ، وأعوذُ بِكَ مِنْكَ”

“O Allah, I seek refuge with Your Pleasure from Your Anger, and with Your Pardon from Your Torment, and I seek refuge from You with You”.

Therefore, Allah Alone Grants refuge to His slave and Saves him from His Torment, which so occurs by His Will. Torment and Favor are both from Allah Alone. Furthermore, the slave asks Allah for support against what he has (of torment and trials) and seeks Him Alone for his safety. He Alone is the Lord of everything and nothing occurs except by His Will.

وَإن يَمْسَسْكَ اللهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلاَ كَاشِفَ لَهُ إلاَّ هُوَ

“And if Allah Touches you with hurt, there is none who can remove it but He” (Surah An’aam, verse # 107) And:

قُلْ مَن ذَا الَّذِى يَعْصِمُكُم مِّنَ اللهِ إنْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ سُوءًا أَوْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ رَحْمَةً

“Say; who is he who can protect you from Allah if He Intends to Harm you, or Intends Mercy on you” ? (Ahzaab : verse # 17)

Prophet Muhammad Sallallho Alaihe Wasallam then ended the supplication by affirming faith in Allah’s Book and Messenger, which holds the key to the ultimate safety and success in this life and the Aakhirah (Next Life). This is our beloved Prophet’s guidance concerning sleep.

لَوْ لَمْ يَقُلْ إنِّى رَسُولٌ

لَكَانَ شَاهِدٌ فِى هَدْيِهِ يَنْطِقُ

If Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam had not claimed / declared himself as a Prophet, the perfection in his character, lifestyle, sayings & guidance for the mankind would have witnessed & spoken that he was a Prophet.


اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ جِبريلَ وميكائيلَ وإسْرَافيلَ، فاطِرَ السَّمواتِ والأرْضِن عَالِمَ الغَيْبِ والشَّهادَةِ، أنتَ تَحْكُمُ بَيْنَ عِبَادِكَ فيما كَانُوا فيه يَخْتِلِفُونَ اهْدِني لِمَا اخْتُلِفَ فيه من الحَقّ بإذْنِكَ إنَّكَ تَهْدِي مَن تشاءُ إلى صِراطٍ مُسْتقيمٍ.


Prophet’s Guidance on waking

وأمَّا هَدْيُه فى يقظته ، فكان يَستيقظ إذا صاح الصَّارخُ وهو الدِّيك ، فيحمَدُ اللهَ تعالى ويُكبِّره ، ويُهلِّله ويدعوه ، ثم يَستاك ، ثم يقوم إلى وضُوئه ، ثم يَقِفُ للصلاة بين يَدَى ربه ، مُناجياً له بكلامه ، مُثنياً عليه ، راجياً له ، راغباً راهباً ، فأىُّ حفظٍ لصحةِ القلب والبدن ، والرُّوح والقُوَى ، ولنعيم الدنيا والآخرة فوقَ هذا

Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam used to wake up when the rooster crowed and would then praise Allah, affirm His Greatness and Oneness, supplicate to Him, and he would use Siwak (natural toothbrush). He would then perform ablution and stand before his Lord reciting His Speech (The Quran), praising Him and hoping in Him with eagerness and fear. What actions can be more preserving for the health of the heart, body, soul and general strength and that acquires the favors of this life and the Next Life than these?