The Holy Prophet (PBUH) prayed to Allah to grant abundance to the Ummah in their early mornings:"O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings (i.e. what they do early in the morning)" (Sunan Ibn Majah: http://sunnah.com/urn/1265550)
And Almighty Allah himself swears by the morning hours before cheering up his beloved Prophet (PBUH) at the beginning of Surah Al-Duha. As reported in Sunan Ibn Majah: "When the Prophet (PBUH) used to set out his army, he would send them at the beginning of the day. Sakhr Al-Ghamdi was a man engaged in trade, and he used to send his goods out at the beginning of the day, and his wealth grew and increased" (http://sunnah.com/urn/1265550)
The blessings which most of us keep deprived ourselves of because we prefer to be in the bed for long after the sun has already risen up. To grab our share from these blessings it is imperative for us to wake up early. And the only way to achieve this is 'To Sleep Early'.
Reviving a Sunnah
Our grandparents and great grandparents used to live a healthy and active life. One of the recipes for this was sleeping early and waking up early. Allah has provided us the night for rest as has been mentioned in the Qur'an
"And We have made your sleep as a rest." (Qur'an 78:9)
But the invasion of the smart phones, televisions into our bedrooms and addiction to PC games keeps many of us awake for late hours in the night. Thus we have neglected a sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He used to forbid his companions from sleeping before Isha prayers and indulging in conversations after that (except for seeking knowledge).
Abu Barzah (RA) reported: "... He (Prophet) would dislike sleeping before it (Isha prayers) or talking after it (Isha Prayers)." [Sunan Abi Dawud 398: http://sunnah.com/abudawud/2/8]
Wasn't this to encourage sleeping early? If we start practicing this, we would be reviving a sunnah Insha Allah. The Tahajjud (night) prayer is said to be the best prayer after obligatory prayers. If a person sleeps early he has a fair chance of waking up for sometime during the night to offer Tahajjud too.
Early morning comes to us with some obvious benefits - both spiritual and health.
The Spiritual Dawn blessings
Allah, Almighty says in the Qur'an:
"Perform the Salat (Prayer) from midday till the darkness of the night, and recite the Qur'an in the early dawn. Verily, the recitation of the Qur'an in the early dawn is ever witnessed (attended by the angels)." [Qur'an 17:78]
And the Holy Prophet also said about the dawn prayers:
The Prophet (PBUH) said, "The two Rak'ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains."[Sunnah.com reference: Sahih Muslim 725 a: (http://sunnah.com/muslim/6/118)]
Another narration goes: "The two Rak'ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are dearer to me than the whole world." [Sunnah.com reference : Book 9, Hadith 112]
There are several other health benefits which include:
1. Relaxed mind: A peaceful sleep in the night relieves physical and mental stress that is caused during the process of regular activities. It relaxes the body and mind. With insufficient sleep you are risking your health with heart strokes and other diseases.
2. Enhances memory: Sleeping early lets your mind arrange the thoughts well. Waking up early with a fresh mind will repossess all of it.
3. Gives time for breakfast: Breakfast is very important to kick start the day. And most of the times as we wake up late we miss it. To ensure food to our intestines waking up early in the morning and breaking the fast by 10 AM is very important.
4. Positive performance: Inadequate sleep will curb your ability to think creatively, cope up with stress and concentrate. All these stress factors will have a negative impact on your performance.
5. Helps metabolism: Our body needs to send away all the unwanted waste from within. We need to eat and sleep on time to maintain energy.
Personal benefits of Waking-Up Early
Increased productivity - The world is a much quieter place at 6AM in the morning. The kids are probably still asleep and businesses haven't opened yet. You can use this time to get a head start on the day. Plan out your day, work on your side business, catch up on emails, exercise, or take care of those annoying administrative things that tend to get overlooked during the workday.
Increased creativity - Many writers and artists find they're the most creative first thing in the morning. It's when your mind is fresh. They have learned to organize their days so that they work on tasks that require the greatest creativity - like writing - at the very beginning of the day.
Decreased stress - This can happen two ways. One, you get more done during the day with your extra time, thereby freeing your mind of psychological clutter. The other way waking up early can decrease stress is if you use the early hours to meditate and think. If your daily hard work is time bound, you can let it start at its own time, but use the extra time in the early morning for quiet contemplation. You could use the time to flesh out your thoughts in a personal journal. If you're a spiritual person, you could use the time for prayers, reading and understanding the Qur'an.
Increased fitness - If you're tired of your gut, but don't have time for a workout during the day. Or find that your motivation to go to the gym evaporates after work, set the alarm clock an hour earlier and exercise first thing in the morning. An early morning workout will leave you feeling full of vim and vigor and ready to take on the rest of the day. And it's a truly satisfying feeling to know you've already gotten it out of the way. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.
A good night sleep - a natural cancer vaccine!!
Allah (SWT) is Al-Wadood and He loves us and does not want us to be distressed. As Allah SWT says:
"We have not sent down to you the Qur'an that you be distressed" (Qur'an 20:2)
Good health is a blessing from Allah (SWT) and it is our responsibility to safeguard this blessing. Even though Allah (SWT) puts His slaves to trials and hardships to test them, like giving illness He Himself creates mechanisms for the prevention and cure.
Allah SWT placed in every one of us a gland called the Pineal gland in our heads. This small pea sized gland is considered to be the biological clock of the human body and it is also connected to the sight nerve. Every day after as darkness descends, this glands start producing a substance called Melatonin which runs in the blood streams and protects the body from cancer. This gland works only in the dark so if the eye is exposed to light the gland does not work. So if you stay up at night in the light you are depriving your body from this daily vaccine. Studies have shown the people exposed to light for longer duration at night are at an increased risk of developing a number of different types of cancers. Eva S. Schernhammer of Harvard Medical School was quoted in an October 2005 article at The Washington Post as saying "Melatonin can prevent tumor cells from growing -- it's cancer-protective. The theory is, if you are exposed to light at night, on average you will produce less melatonin, increasing your cancer risk." This also underlines the importance of why the Holy Prophet (PBUH) mentioned about putting of light before going to sleep.
"Extinguish the lamps when you go to bed; close your doors; tie the mouths of your water skins, and cover the food and drinks."
[Sahih al-Bukhari 5624: http://sunnah.com/bukhari/74/50]
Allah SWT says: "We erased the sign of the night and made the sign of the day visible" (Qur'an 17:12)
Unfortunately, we nowadays made the sign of the night more visible than the sign of day by staying up all night and sleeping most during the day.
Sleeping early - how?
1. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime.
2. Avoid exercise a few hours before bedtime.
3. Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime
4. Decide a time by which you should see yourself in the bed and stick to it. Wrap up your day before that decided time. If some of the things still remain, you have your early morning hours to finish off those. That's the time you are more likely to complete them too.
5. Keep those gadgets and smart phones far away from you while going to bed. If these remain beside your pillow they will keep you awake for sure
6. More often make it known to your friends and relatives during your casual talks that you sleep by 'this time' daily. This will discourage them from calling and texting unnecessarily, unless in an emergency
7. You too must refrain yourself from calling or texting others at their night times unnecessarily
8. If possible, keep your cell phone off at silent when you sleep at night. Nothing wrong will befall if you are not reachable for some 7-8 hours at night In sha Allah. And if something is destined to happen, will happen even with your cell phone on
9. Intend to wake up for Fajr, and you will Insha Allah
Umm Ayman is dentist by qualification and a home maker by choice. Originally from India she is settled in the UAE. A seeker of Islamic knowledge, she likes to share what she learns. For her, writing is a hobby and painting is passion.