One of the most famous topics to affect probably all of us is the dear topic of sleep. One thing that is known is the UK has too much of it and some of us are thinking of how to get more. But how much sleep do we really need, 8 hours, 7 hours? Below is a small conversation, which I’ve had a poor attempt at recalling on this very topic.
Beloved Shaykh: Ya [Fulaan] I met your friend when I was in [such and such place].
Questioner: Ah MashaAllaah, Shaykh how is he?
Beloved Shaykh: He cannot sleep. He is missing his wife.
Questioner: [lol] Shaykh did you have trouble sleeping too??
Beloved Shaykh: [lol] La! Ya’ane I didn’t sleep much but not because of my wife ya’ane I had other work to do.
Questioner: Shaykh how many hours do you think the average person/student needs to sleep?
Beloved Shaykh: This is a very famous question [I don't think ‘famous’ was used but emphasis was made].
Beloved Shaykh: A person should push himself as much as he can before he goes to sleep.
Questioner: So how many hours, 5 hours?
Beloved Shaykh: La. Maybe 2, 3, 4 [But if you cannot do justice...]
Beloved Shaykh: It’s different for different people. Each person should push himself until he can’t go more. Exert himself. 2-3 hours sleep is enough. You will also find you have more energy and will do much more work.
Beloved Shaykh: Maybe at the end of the week he can make up some hours he missed.
Questioner: Shaykh how many hours do you sleep?
Beloved Shaykh: Maybe 2 hours.
One thing I remember and I can’t remember in totality was one saying and I think it was from the Salaf where it was quoted something like “they [salaf] cannot increase in reward”; beautiful is the explanation – It is not the case that reward was denied for them, but rather there was no good deed which they were missing out on hence they could not attain anymore reward. Allaahuakbar.
Work Through the Night
With respect to the recent death reminders, sleep has to be one of the most practical ways of reminding oneself of death. How is it possible one can sleep and relax without doing as much good as possible as if a guarantee is given that tomorrow another opportunity will arise? Indeed it is true, if one truly knew he would die tomorrow he would not be able to sleep – but is this not in fact the case, that tomorrow he is going to die?
Did the people of the towns then feel secure against the coming of Our punishment by night while they were asleep? [Al-'Araf 7:97]
Don’t Let it Have a Negative Effect
With all that in mind, a person should not stay up all night for the sake of staying up without benefitting himself, nor should it be the case a person stays up half-asleep. There are rights the body has and extremes to be avoided. Most importantly one shouldn’t stay up so late and sleep just before Fajr, as shaytaan would have him do. Sleep has its benefits and it’s a blessing from Allaah that He created the alternation of the day and the night.
And We have made your sleep as a thing for rest. [An-Naba 78:9]
One of the benefits of sleep is that it allows a person to restore energy for His worship, thus every person before he sleeps should always make a sincere intention that he is sleeping in order to regain strength to worship Allaah. It’s such a simple intention and in return you could pile mountains of deeds right, yet it’s commonly left out or forgotten. Our purpose in this life is to worship Allaah alone, with the correct intentions each individual has the opportunity to attain reward 24/7 subhanAllaah!
A person should also try his utmost best to sleep with wudhu reciting his athkar [see ‘Hisnul Muslim’], rather than counting tedious sheep or day-dreaming/night-dreaming/bed-dreaming.
I remember one of our teachers he mentioned one of the reasons why a person will not be able to wake up for Fajr is not the alarm clock not working but rather it is due to his sin. Allaah He doesn’t allow the sinful to wake up and pray, subhanAllaah. We ask Allaah to remove the diseases of our hearts and not increase them, Aameen. Our teacher then mentioned that one should sleep with wudhu and recite ayat al-Kursi, and that by doing so an Angel will be standing at his bed guarding him, through the night.
A final pointer and I’m sure each one of you are more aware of all of these than myself, and that is that one should remove all evil, anger, from himself before he sleeps, forgiving those who harmed him, as we know one of the companions was guaranteed paradise only by doing this very noble act of forgiving anyone who may have upset him.
I ask Allaah to allow to me to implement what I have written and allow us all to worship Him until we die. Aameen.