STUDENT HEALTH: The Etiquette of Sleep

SANA IQBAL

As human beings we strive to maximize our production. We desire to excel. We are defined by our accomplishments. We set schedules, make lists, and prioritize our responsibilities to expand our efforts in attaining success.

But how many of us use the time to sleep as a means to worship rather than a means to rest?

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (the Exalted and Glorified) created sleep for us so that we may derive rest from our day. According to the sunnah (path) of the Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings be upon him), even our sleep should be purposeful.

There are two aspects of beings: the physical body and the soul. The physical body is composed of bones, flesh, and skin. Our body is merely a vehicle for our soul. The natural tendency of our body is to be animalistic, whereas the natural tendency of the soul is to be connected to Allah (swt).

So how can we reduce our sleep to maximize on our life? There are three key components in gaining the blessing of Allah (swt) through sleep. First, in order to gain any type of barakah (blessings) in our sleep, it is important to restrict the body in order to elevate the soul. Thus, we must limit our interactions with this dunya (physical world). By limiting our interactions with this duniya, we will be able to increase our interaction with Allah (swt).

The best way to create this beautiful relationship is through the Tahajjud (vigil night prayer) Prayer. It is the prayer where Allah (swt) provides us with the ultimate opportunity to interact with Him.

Abu Hurairah radi Allahu anhu (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the prophet’s companions, narrated that Allah’s Messenger (swt) said: ‘In the last third of every night our Rabb (Lord) Allah (swt) descends to the lowermost heaven and says; “Who is calling Me, so that I may answer him? Who is asking Me so that may I grant him? Who is seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him?”’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith Qudsi).

When this beautiful opportunity exists for us to establish this relationship with Allah (swt), how can we allow ourselves to choose the comfort of our beds over the comfort of our foreheads in sujood (prostration)?

The second important aspect of sleep is following the sunnah (path) of the Prophet (saw). The sunnah is to sleep on the right side. The medical benefits of this act leave us in awe of our Creator.

The heart of a human being is located on the left side. So if a person sleeps on the left side, the heart and all the organs in the thoracic cavity (i.e. lungs) end up falling on top of the heart. In addition to pumping out blood throughout the entire body, the heart now has external pressure to deal with.

While sleeping on the left side, all the organs compress the heart. However, when an individual sleeps on the right side, the heart stays on top and the other organs are pulled downward towards the force of gravity resulting in minimal weight on the heart,which decreases the pressure This is just one of the Fawa’ed (benefits) of sleeping on the right side. However, the true benefit of this action lies in imitating the actions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Lastly, the most contemplative aspect of sleep is the time for reflection. When an individual lies down to sleep, it is an opportune time to reflect on our relationship with Allah (swt). This provides us with a special time in our day to reflect upon the immense blessings of Allah (swt).

Remembering Allah (swt) before sleep is something that will only increase our Iman (faith). It is a beautiful interaction that occurs. We should reflect about how sleep is the sister of death and remembering this should increase our humbleness and taqwa (God consciousness).

For Allah knows what is in our hearts while we walk through the day and lay in our beds at night. And He is the most Magnificent, most Merciful.
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SANA IQBAL is a third year Biological Sciences major at the University of California, Irvine
Photo by ERUM KHALILI

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