It might seem funny to devote an article to sleeping. But think about it. The average person spends around eight hours of a 24-hour day asleep. That is a third of a person’s lifetime.
Allah describes sleep as a blessing from Him. He says in the Quran:
And We made your sleep a rest for you. (78: 9)
It is Allah who has made the night for you, that you may rest therein, and the days as that which helps you to see. Verily Allah is full of grace and bounty to humanity, yet most people give no thanks. (40: 61)
Sleep is not only described as a blessing bestowed upon the people, but also as a testament to Allah’s creative ability. Consider where Allah says:
He it is who gathers up your souls at night and knows all that you do by day. Then He raises you up again, so that the term appointed for you (on Earth) may be accomplished. And afterward unto Him is your return. Then He will proclaim to you what you used to do. (6: 60)
Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, as well as (the souls of) those who die not, during their sleep. Then He withholds those on whom He has passed the decree of death and sends the others back until an appointed term. Most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. (39: 42)
Yes, sleep is His creation, and it has its marvels. A sleeping person drifts away from his consciousness and reason, only to be fully restored to his rational faculties upon waking, refreshed and revitalized.
He can see the strangest and most amazing things, things that a waking person could never possibly see.
We can appreciate the importance of sleep if we consider that Allah guided His Messenger (peace be upon him) regarding the etiquette of sleeping, like being in a state of purity and lying on his right side. (As for facing the qiblah, this is actually not established by the Sunnah.)
Likewise, a number of remembrances and supplications are prescribed for sleeping. The Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed Ali ibn abi Talib and Fatimah to say “Subhan Allah” 33 times, “Al-Hamdu Lillah” 33 times, and “Allah Akbar” 33 times. He informed them that doing so will remove their fatigue and revitalize them, and said:
It is better than having a servant. (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
Our generation is sometimes accused of being “the sleeping generation”. Most of us certainly do not need to sleep more than we already do.
Nevertheless, we must respect our need to sleep by observing the etiquette and approaches to sleep that will maximize the benefit that we get from it. This, in turn, helps us manage stress and makes our waking hours more productive.
It is a mistake to dismiss the importance of sleep. We all need it, and we all get our daily quota of sleep. Therefore, it is wrong that we make light of the subject of sleep and disdain reading or speaking about it, as if it were something superfluous.
In order to sleep better, we should first relax a bit. We need to unwind from the pressures, worries, and distresses of the day. And we need to end the day on a note of forgiveness and with a few moments of tenderness with our families.
We need to recite our remembrances of Allah and rid our hearts of all our animosities.
And we should not lay our heads down on our pillows with resentfulness in our hearts and angry thoughts in our minds. We should make our last thoughts of the day positive ones.