Sleep from an Islamic Perspective
Sleep medicine is a relatively new scientific specialty. Sleep is an important topic in Islamic
literature, and the Quran and Hadith discuss types of sleep, the importance of sleep, and
good sleep practices. Islam considers sleep as one of the signs of the greatness of Allah (God) and encourages followers to explore this important sign. The Quran describes different types of sleep, and these correspond with sleep stages identified by modern science. The Quran discusses the beneficial effects of sleep and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a pattern of light and darkness. A mid-day nap is an important practice for Muslims, and the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (pbuh) promoted naps as beneficial.
In accordance with the practice and instructions of Muhammad (pbuh), Muslims have
certain sleep habits and these sleep habits correspond to some of the sleep hygiene rules
identified by modern science. Details during sleep include sleep position, like
encouraging sleep on the right side and discouraging sleep in the prone position.
Dream interpretation is an established science in the Islamic literature and
Islamic scholars have made significant contributions to theories of dream
interpretation. We suggest that sleep scientists examine religious literature in
general and Islamic literature in particular, to understand the views, behaviors,
and practices of ancient people about the sleep and sleep disorders. Such
studies may help to answer some unresolved questions in sleep science or lead to new areas
Sleep medicine is considered a relatively new field of medicine, but mankind has
long been interested in sleep, and culture and religion influence attitudes and
beliefs about sleep. In particular, religious literature has many references to
sleep.[1,2] Islam emerged as a religion in the seventh century when the Prophet
Muhammad peace be upon him (pbuh) started receiving revelations from Allah (God),
known as the Holy Quran (610 C.E.).
Most Muslims, with a worldwide population of about 1.6 billion, view Islam as a way of life
and follow the instructions of Islam in all of their daily practices, including sleep.The
two sources of Islamic jurisprudence are the Quran and Hadith (Sunnah). Muslims believe
that Allah revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through the angel Gabriel
from 610 to 632 C.E., the year of the Prophet’s death [verse 17. 106]. The text of
the Quran contains 114 chapters (Sura). Hadith are a collection of narrations concerning the
words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). These were evaluated and gathered into a large collection, mostly during the eighth and ninth centuries.
Islam has great interest in sleep, and sleep is considered as one of the signs of the
greatness of Allah. Sleep is mentioned frequently in the Quran. For example, a well
– known verse says, “And among his signs is your sleep by night and by day and
your seeking of His bounty, verily in that are Signs for those who hearken” [verse
30.23]. Islam has clear instructions and guidance for followers about the nature of good sleep. In addition, Muslims have shown great interest in dreams and dream interpretation.
Types of Sleep in the Quran
The Quran frequently mentions sleep. There is ageneral Arabic word for “sleep” (Noum)
and other Arabic words for specific types of sleep. The word “sleep” and its derivatives
appear nine times in the Quran. In addition, different Arabic words are used to describe
sleep in the Quran, and these may correspond to the different sleep stages identified by modern sleep science:
This word has been defined as “slumber” or “dozing off for a very short
period”, during which there is prompt arousal following environmental stimulation.
This may correspond to stage 1 sleep identified by modern sleep scientists. A
verse in the Quran uses the word “Sinah” when describing Allah “No slumber (Sinah) can seize Him nor sleep” [verse2.255]. In the Quran, sleep implies a manifestation of weakness and bodily need for rest. Therefore, while the Creator (Allah) does not sleep or doze off, His creations, including mankind, need sleep every day.
2.”Nu’ass”: Two verses in the Quran use the word “Nu’ass”. One verse says
“Remember when He covered you with a slumber (Nu’ass) as a security from him”
[verse8.11]. This describes the fear and stress of the believers during the battle of Badr, when slumber (Nu’ass) provided them with a feeling of security and relief from stress. Nu’ass in this verse implies a short nap, which may correspond to stage 1 and stage 2 sleep identified by
modern sleep scientists. It was recently suggested that a short nap can reduce stress and
blood pressure (BP), with the main changes in BP occurring between the time of lights off and the onset of stage 1.
Based on the above, we suggest that the arrangement of sleep stages/states is
Sinah and Nu’ass, followed by Hojoo, and Ruqood and then Subaat.Importance of Sleep
Modern sleep scientists believe that sleep deprivation has deleterious effects on mental
concentration, memory, mood, and quality of life. In addition, recent data indicate that
sleep deprivation impairs endocrine and metabolic functions. Islam al
so emphasizes the importance of getting enough sleep. One Hadith by the Prophet (pbuh) in Sahih Al-Bukhari (SB) says, “If anyone of you feels drowsy while praying he should go to bed (sleep)
till his slumber is over” (SB 210). The Prophet (pbuh) told one of his companions (Ibn Amr)
who was praying the whole night “Offer prayers and also sleep at night, as your
body has a right on you” (SB 1874). Once the Prophet (pbuh) entered the Mosque and
saw a rope hanging in between its two pillars. He said, “What is this rope?” The people said, “This
rope is for Zainab, who, when she feels tired, holds it (to keep standing for the prayer.)”
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Don’t use it. Remove the rope. You should pray as long as you
feel active, and when you get tired, sleep”(SB 1099). Another Hadith narrated by Aisha
(wife of the Prophet [pbuh]) in Musnad Ahmed (MA) tells of a woman from the tribe of Bani
Asad, who was sitting with Aisha when Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) came to my house and said,
“Who is this?” Aisha replied, “She is so and so”. She does not sleep at night because she is
engaged in prayer. The Prophet said disapprovingly, “Do (good) deeds which are within
your capacity as Allah never gets tired of giving rewards till you get tired of doing
good deeds” [MA 25244].
Reference: Ahmed S. BaHammam