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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

22.5 SLEEP AND REST, nawm & raahat

By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.

22.5.1 SLEEP IN THE QUR'AN and SUNNAT

Sleep is a sign of Allah and is a period of rest. It is a form of relative physical inactivity and inattentiveness to the environment that are not compatible with divine attributes. Allah who has to look after the whole universe and its contents does not fall asleep. The Qur'an and sunnat described sleep as a type of death. Some who go into sleep may never wake up again. The Prophet taught special supplications, dua, on falling asleep and on waking up in view of sleep being a major transitional event. Sleep involves a temporary suspension of full sensory perception and interaction with the environment. A sleeping person is not legally accountable for the period during sleep. In the same way deep sleep abrogates wudhu because there is no way of telling what actions the sleeping person could have undertaken during sleep resulting in abrogation of wudhu. Sleep may prevent a person from performing salat at the right time. Shaitan tries his best to prevent a sleeping person from waking up at the time of salat.

 

22.5.2 PURPOSES and PHYSIOLOGY OF SLEEP

The day is light and was made for humans to seek sustenance. The night is a period Allah set aside for rest, sleeping, and ibadat. The change or alternation of day and night is among the signs of Allah. The following biological phenomena are affected by the diurnal variation or biorythm: sleep, cortisol excretion, and melatonin excretion. Sleep is a biological imperative. An adult needs 8-9 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle. The period of sleep is psychological rest (decreased anxiety and sensory stimulation) and biological rest (lower respiration and circulation). Sleep is an act of ibadat that is opened and is closed by special supplications, dua. Reorganization of brain architecture occurs during sleep. Homeostatic adjustments are easier to carry out during sleep because there are no concurrent new changes. Sleep is a recurrent reversible phenomenon. Some bodily functions are diminished during sleep (muscle inertia, basal metabolic rate, and sensory reactivity to the environment) whereas others are increased (hand mitosis and electrical activity in the brain). No functions ever stop completely. Sleep and wakefulness are a balance between the activation of the sleep system and the wake system. We know from studies of physiology and the evidence from the sunnat that sleep is not a passive activity. The Prophet was described as sleeping with the eyes but not with the heart. Thinking and memory take place during sleep. Mitotic activity is highest during sleep. Metabolism continues during sleep but at a lower rate.

 

22.5.3 ETIQUETTE OF SLEEPING, adab al nawm

Wudhu is made before sleep. Sleeping is on the right facing the qibla. Sleeping on the face is prohibited. Dua is made on sleeping, on being alarmed in sleep, and on waking up. Yawning and sneezing may occur during sleep or on waking up from sleep. Hands are washed on waking up. The face should also be washed to take away ocular, nasal, and oral secretions. Sleeping naked is forbidden. A human should take the adequate amount of sleep appropriate to the age and physiological condition. More sleep than this is offensive. Waking up for ibadat at night has special merit. Most sleep should be at night. The prophet recommended siesta, qailuulat, a period of sleep and rest in mid-day. Sleeping on the side nullifies wudhu. Sleeping before salat nullifies wudhu. Sleeping in salat is from shaitan. Night prayer should be abandoned if sleep is overwhelming.

 

22.4.4 DREAMS

All people dream in both REM and non-REM sleep but dreams during REM are forgotten. Remembering of dreams is not perfect. Dreams may be review of actual daytime activities with considerable distortion of the reality. Good dreams are from Allah and should be told. It is an offense to lie when reporting a dream. Bad frightening dreams are from shaitan and should not be reported. Dreams of prophets are always true and are part of revelation, wahy. Dreams of righteous people are a type of prophethood. We however can never tell for certain who is a righteous person in contemporary times because as humans we judge from outside appearances and only Allah knows what is inside humans. Only dreams of prophets can be interpreted correctly. Only prophets can interpret people's dreams correctly. Interpretation of dreams of ordinary humans who are not prophets by non-prophets should be discouraged.

 

22.5.5 DISORDERS OF SLEEP

Insomnia is a symptom for other illnesses. It is due to to activation of the reticular system by pain or emotional factors that causes activation of the limbic system. Somnambulum (sleep-walking) is dangerous because a person can harm himself and others. Bed-wetting (nocturnal enuresis) is normal in children. It stops with age as neurological and bladder functions mature. It may have a genetic basis. Narcolepsy is an irresistible urge to sleep. It may be part of certain disease syndromes. It could interfere with performance of salat. Shaitan can tie knots on the head of a person to make it difficult to wake up. It can also urinate in the ears to prevent waking up. This is part of shaitan’s strategy to prevent humans from remembering Allah.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004