The Sunnah Of The Prophet Muhammad's Sleeping Posture 


Bassam Zawadi


Here are some Hadith from Riyad As Saaleheen that show the Islamic way of sleeping...



814. Al-Bara' ibn 'Azib said, "When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to retire to his bed, he would lie on his right side and then say, 'O Allah, I surrender my soul to You and I turn my face to You and I entrust my affair to You and I seek Your support with hope and fear of You. There is no refuge from You but to You. I have believed in Your Book which You sent down and Your Prophet whom You sent.'" [al-Bukhari]

815. al-Bara' ibn 'Azib reported: 'The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, 'Whenever you go to bed, do wudu' as you do wudu' for the prayer and then lie down on your right side. Then say...'" and he mentioned the rest of it and in it is, "Make that the last of the words that you utter." [Agreed upon]

816. 'A'isha said, "The Prophet , may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray eleven rak'ats at night. When it was dawn, he would pray two quick rak'ats and then lie on his right side until the mu'adhdhin came and gave the adhan." [Agreed upon]

818. Ya'ish ibn Tikhfa al-Ghifari said, "My father said, 'Once while I was lying on my stomach in the mosque, a man moved me with his foot and said, "This is a position which Allah hates."'" He said, "I looked up and it was the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace." [Abu Dawud]



128. Chapter: On the permission to lie on one's back and put one leg across the other when one's private parts are not exposed, and the permission to sit cross-legged and sitting with one's legs drawn up

820. 'Abdullah ibn Zayd reported that he saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, lying on his back in the mosque with one foot on top of the other." [Agreed upon]



So from these Hadith we see that it is okay and recommended to sleep on one's back and right side. However, not recommended to sleep on one's stomach. There is no prohibition of sleeping on the left side, however it seems that the Sunnah is on the right side or back. 


What does science today tell us about sleeping positions?


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In my experience, vagal maneuvers have worked sometimes to terminate my AF, but usually not on the first try.  Light exercise can also terminate AF, particularly when it has lasted into the morning or early afternoon.  Several posts to the atrial fibrillation message board have also reported that sleeping on the left side can trigger AF during the night (this has also been my experience), and I have found that I can avoid AF by sleeping on the right side or on the back.  It can also help to elevate the head and upper part of the body when sleeping, either by using several pillows or a bed that can be adjusted to do this.


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Gilbert found that if researchers had pooled the results of the oldest studies and analyzed them, they might have gotten a big hint by 1970 that putting babies to sleep on their stomachs raised the risk of SIDS. Instead, that observation did not become convincing until the late 1980s.

Researchers now know that sleeping on the stomach raises the risk of SIDS sevenfold. That realization led to "Back to Sleep" campaigns in Britain in 1991 and in the United States in 1994.

Between 1970 and the unveiling of that advice, 11,000 British infants -- who might have survived if sleeping on the back had been the norm -- died of SIDS. In the United States, Europe and Australia, "at least 50,000 excess deaths were attributable to harmful health advice," Gilbert and her colleagues wrote.


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Researchers have conducted the most definitive study of its kind to show that sleeping on the stomach increases the risk of U.S. infants for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).



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More boys than girls fall victim to SIDS.

Other potential risk factors include:

  • smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy
  • poor prenatal care
  • prematurity or low birth-weight
  • mothers younger than 20
  • smoke exposure following birth
  • overheating from excessive sleepwear and bedding
  • stomach sleeping


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Sleeping on your Stomach

Sleeping on your stomach forces your lower back into extension, and this jams your facets and shortens your muscles.

It also puts unnecssary strain on your neck as pillows tend to be quite a bit higher than the mattress.

The neck gets forced into extension even more so than the lower back, which could leave you with a crimp in your neck when you wake up in the morning.

To avoid these problems, we recommend sleeping on your side with appropriate support, or sleeping on your back with minimal pillow height.



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Sleeping on one side
Question: I am a 50-year old male. I can only get to sleep lying on my right side. I always wake lying on my right side and my bed partner says I spend the whole night on my right side. Is this normal or harmful.

Answer: This is very normal and not harmful.



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Sleep on Your Back

It's the best position for relaxing, and allows all your internal organs to rest properly. If you must sleep on your side, do it on your right side, not your left. Sleeping on the left side causes your lungs, stomach and liver to press against your heart, causing stress on an organ that most of us find quite useful.

Never -- ever -- sleep on your stomach. It causes pressure on all your internal organs -- including your lungs, which results in shallow breathing. It can also, as you've no doubt discovered, cause a stiff neck and upper back problems.



It is said that sleeping on the left side is recommended for pregnant women, however today science generally tells us that it is best to sleep on the right side or back and not on the left side and stomach. Subhaanallah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is even a great example to follow when we want to go to sleep.



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