Why do we need 8 hours of sleep?
Sleep is a great blessing bestowed upon us from Allah SWT and those who acquire it are very lucky indeed. There are some people who snooze off as soon as they hit the bed, whereas there are also some who keep changing their sides from right to left and left to right restlessly the whole night. The quality of our sleep directly affects our performance the following day. To add to this, just as the quality of sleep is important, it is equally necessary to enhance the quantity of our sleep. How many hours of sleep we need every night is a crucial question, especially so when we are consistently faced with a fast-paced lifestyle and almost no time to properly care for ourselves.
It has been generally assumed that having a good eight hours of sleep is the best way to rejuvenate ourselves. Lots & lots have been discussed on this 8-hour sleep quota, but as a matter of fact, there are very few people who really follow this rule religiously. Every morning of the weekdays we wake up drowsy-eyed, most probably, with a persistent headache to add to the trouble, sadly hoping that we would make up for the sleep loss on weekends. But according to a recent study, this kind of manipulation does not really help us in the long run and just one night’s good sleep is not enough to compensate for the whole week.
Researchers studying the human sleep cycle at the Walter Reed Research Institute and at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a research study to test dozens of people for their sleep patterns & analysis for a period of four years and published the results in 2003. Every volunteer in the study was tested in the controlled environment of a laboratory for fourteen days at s stretch. The participants were divided into three groups; each one for sleepers allotted with eight, six & four hours of sleep per night respectively. The performance of every group the following day was recorded and the conclusion was derived that those who slept for complete eight hours gave maximum efficient performance, whereas those who had a six to four hours sleep experienced a drop in reaction time & attention span. It was also noted that those who slept for four hours were comparatively more incapable of keeping up with alertness of mind on the successive days as compared to those who slept for six hours.[pullquote_right]Those who had a six to four hours sleep experienced a drop in reaction time & attention span.[/pullquote_right]
However, it was also observed that a small number of people (nearly 5%) were capable of delivering unaltered performance irrespective of their irregular sleep patterns. While according to the researchers, most of them lost it at the end of the two weeks and resembled “the cognitive equivalent of being legally drunk”, a few contestants managed to work effortlessly even after sleeping for a mere 4-5 hours every night. However, it has also been studied astonishingly in another research that people who have a sleep of around 6-7 hours regularly have a lower mortality rate, as against their other counterparts.
In Islam, it is recommended to sleep early at night and wake up during the wee hours of dawn. It is also advised to take a ‘power nap’ in the afternoon, not too long that goes on for hours, just for 15-30 minutes. Allah SWT says in the Quran in Surah al-Furqan, that, “And He it is Who makes the Night as a Robe for you, and Sleep as Repose, and makes the Day (as it were) a Resurrection.” As we are blessed with the night for resting by Allah SWT, we must ensure we utilize it for our best and avoid being awake for too long.
Also, there is a hadith on sleep mentioned in Sahih Muslim & Sahih al-Bukhari, which says,
“Shaytaan ties three knots on the crown of any one of you in your sleep. He says upon each knot that he ties: “You have a long night before you, therefore sleep”. But if you wake up and mention Allah, Most Exalted in remembrance one knot will be untied. If you then make ablution another knot will be undone. If you then proceed to pray the last knot will be disentangled. Thus, you will feel in the morning energetic and in good spirits. Otherwise you will feel in a despicable state, lazy”.
In relation to this hadith, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr RA explained that shaytaan tries his best to mislead people by inducing sleep and makes him lazy and inactive. But the one who escapes the temptation and waswaas of shaytaan could gain rewards for both the worlds. The hadith clearly indicates that we must not go overboard in sleeping, but turn towards Allah SWT & his ibadah.
To conclude, we could say that the bottom line is to hit the bed soon after finishing the isha salaat, sleep for around 7-8 hours & wake up afresh & rejuvenated to offer tahajjud & fajr salaat, for a healthy physique & spirit. Insha’Allah, following this routine could help you derive benefits in this life and in the hereafter.
Sumayya has a bachelor’s degree in Professional English (with distinction). Currently, she is about to pursue Masters degree in High level English. Interests include reading novels, writing articles and social activities.