Getting a night of good quality sleep can greatly improve your Qur’ān memorisation (Hifz).
I’ve met a lot of students that are stressed and don’t sleep well or get enough of it. They are trying to memorise the Qur’ān very quickly and as fast as they can. Whilst doing so, they deprive themselves of sleep to such levels that they can’t do many things during the day that require focus. This can have a negative impact on your ability to memorise and recall. Sleep impacts our memory processes, mental, and physical health. This includes an impact on the brain, the immune system and our cognitive abilities!
Look at your kids and see how they are when they don’t get enough sleep.
Do you sleep well?
The importance of getting sleep in Islam
Getting some sleep is important, so much so that we see in Hadīth:
“Offer prayers and sleep, as your body has a right on you.” [Bukhārī]The Prophet (ﷺ)
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If anyone of you feels drowsy while praying he should go to bed (sleep) till his slumber is over because in praying while drowsy one does not know whether one is asking for forgiveness or for a bad thing for oneself.”Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Muslim
Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) entered the mosque (and he found) a rope tied between the two pillars; so he said: What is this? They said: It is for Zainab. She prays and when she slackens or feels tired she holds it. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet ﷺ) said: Untie it. Let one pray as long as one feels fresh but when one slackens or becomes tired one must stop it. (And in the hadith transmitted by Zuhair it is:” He should sit down.”)Sahīh al-Bukhārī
What you realise here is that if you’re tired and your body requires rest, it comes first.
You should put the rights of your body before the task of reciting or memorising the Qur’ān in such a situation. In fact, Imām al-Bukhārī named a chapter in Sahīh al-Bukhārī with the same understanding: “The command to one who becomes sleepy while praying, or who starts to falter in his recitation of the Qur’ān or statements of remembrance, to lie down or sit down until that goes away.”
As with everything, a balance is required. Sleeping too much or too little isn’t great. There are many articles written about sleep in Islam and other material online that are beneficial.
Our focus today is on sleep deprivation and how common it can be amongst those that are trying to memorise the Qur’ān. Sleep deprivation can be so detrimental that it is an individual or a public health hazard.
- excessive sleepiness
- frequent yawning
- daytime fatigue
- mood swings
- sleep disorders
A lack of sleep shuts down your memory inbox
During deep sleep, a sewage system within the brain kicks into high gear and it starts to wash away a protein. Good sleep prevents diseases!
Sleep is known to be crucial for learning and memory formation. A good night’s sleep triggers changes in the brain that help to improve memory.
Sleep helps preserve the memory
Sleep also serves to re-organise new memory, and make links with previously absorbed information. The brain “replays” or repeats our previously learnt information. Whereas poor sleep distorts memory.
How much sleep do you need?
It will differ from time to time. Sometimes you may need more and at other times less. This is something of an art. Adults should get 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Your habits (of sleep, activity before sleeping, time of sleeping, consistency etc) and the quality of sleep (light or deep states) are also vital.
Prophetic teachings and Sunnah tell us to listen to the body
As mentioned above, if we feel tired, even if we are praying, we are told to sleep. Sleep early (after ‘Isha’), wake in the middle if the night, wake early and get to work. A third of the night and of the day (6-8hrs) is ideal.
How do you sleep for better memory?
Research has shown that naps help boost your memory recall. Even if it’s as little as 6 minutes. Even 10 minutes can improve alertness and performance for 2-4 hours.
Taking naps is a sunnah (particularly during midday, Fridays (weekdays)). An act that was encouraged by the Prophet (ﷺ) even in situations where you feel drowsy during prayer.
Look at your sleep patterns, and look at any conditions you may have that affect it.
They say it’s good to nap 3 hours after memorising, and 1 hour after practice. Memorising before sleep and waking up for Fajr to seal it is great.
We can get those who do sleep well and may still have issues. There could also be other factors at play other than sleep. So consider what you do before sleeping, and create a healthy routine.
Consider your sleep.
May Allāh grant blessing!
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