When a sister contacts me for help about time management, assuming she contacted me via text or email, I immediately look at the time stamp on the message.
Woah…2 AM? Okay sis, there’s your problem.
I can’t remember a single time when they contacted me at a time like 7 PM. Why? Because, they don’t realize how bad their problem is until it is 2:30 AM and they are still awake, trying to get some work done or perhaps just wasting time. Their families are asleep, and they’re sitting at their desk pulling all-nighters.
The reason I bring this up is because something interesting about time-management is that it starts the night before. If you don’t sleep on time and wake up on time, then your day is not going to be as productive as it could have been. We’ve all heard of the phrase “getting up on the wrong side of the bed,” which basically indicates that something seemingly-insignificant that takes place in the morning can have a negative effect on the rest of your day. Similarly, every hour that you waste and then later try to “make-up for” by pushing your bedtime up an hour, will have an effect on you the next day.
Here are some steps in how to sleep early*:
- Acknowledge it is late.Seriously now, for most of the people who go to bed late it is mostly a problem of mentality. You look at the clock and think “2:00? Oh, no problem, I’ve still got plenty of time”. No, you don’t. When you make it a habit to go to bed way past midnight, your idea of late becomes an increasingly later hour. So, the next time you look at the clock and see it’s past 11:30 pm (or any time you’d consider ‘early’), abandon everything you were doing at that time and start hurrying to go to bed. The first step in starting to go to bed early is redefining your definition of “late.”
- Give yourself reasons for getting to bed earlier. One good incentive is recalling a time (or several) when your lateness in getting to bed had disastrous results: you overslept, didn’t get enough sleep, became sick, etc. Also, if you’re a habitual late-nighter (e.g. college student), this will give you a chance to see that rarest of natural phenomena: a sunrise! Staying up through the night to see the sunrise does not count!
- Determine what time you need to wake. The default answer to this is that you need to wake up for Salatul Fajr. If you want to wake up earlier than that, and get in a few rak’aat of Satul Tahajjud, then that is even better. Your wake-up time needs to be the same every day except for rare occasions. Weekends are not rare.
- Subtract 8 hours from the time you wake up. Determine how long it actually takes you to fall asleep. Don’t glance at the alarm clock constantly to test this, just think whether you lie in bed for what seems for hours, or does your head barely hit the pillow? If the first one is the case you should subtract one hour from the time you have. If your head barely hits the pillow you only need about five minutes in bed before your -8 hour time. If you’re somewhere in between 30 minutes should be a safe amount of time to be in bed before you need to fall asleep. If you sleep at 9 pm every night, you can wake up at 5 am and you will have completed 8 hours.
- Do something calming before bedtime. The computer may be calming but your brain naturally makes you sleepy when it is dark, so by staring at a screen you are keeping yourself alert and wide-awake for longer than you should. A shower is an excellent thing to do before bed. Make your activity a sort of habit. This helps. We know that it is from the sunnah to make wudoo’ before bed. This is very calming and it will help you fall asleep. Sisters, you can do this even when on your monthly cycle; I know one sister who does. Also, don’t forget your evening adhkar. What can be more calming and relaxing than some dhikr of Allah? After that maybe review some Qur’an, not out loud but quietly while moving your lips. Another thing that I like to do, that helps me fall asleep, is to imagine myself in one of the Gardens of Jannah, talking to Rasoolullah SAWS. :)
- Go to bed right when you start feeling tired. The best time to go to bed is when you can’t stop yawning and feel the need to just close your eyes and lay your head down. If you force yourself to stay awake, after this stage is over, you’ll have a slight headache because of tiredness, but stop feeling that urge to go to sleep, which makes you stay awake even more.
- Be strict about your bedtime. Force yourself to turn off the computer and TV before bed. By turning off the computer (not the monitor) you would have to wait for it to reboot and normally that is enough to persuade you to get off the computer. Throw the remote for your TV across the room or onto the floor (gently). Getting up to turn on the TV hardly seems worth it, huh? My suggestion is actually to work your way towards cutting TV out of your life. Besides the negative influence it will have on you as a Muslim, it is nothing but an extremely convenient and easy way to waste a whole time of time without ever realizing it. Computers also are not harmless, but if you are doing stuff of benefit, even then you must realize that you can continue your work in the morning, preferably in the time of barakah (the time that is blessed), and when you are nice and fresh.
- After you have been following a bed time for a week or so, if you are still tired or very unwilling to get up in the morning you may still owe yourself a few hours. Have you been taking advantage of the “sunnah nap?” This is a short nap you can take between Dhuhr and Asr. You can take one every day, and it will help you to recharge inshaa Allah.
- Reward yourself for your discipline. Notice how much better you feel in your day-to-day life, in school, or at your job. If you’re getting somewhere around 8 hours of sleep per night, and at the right time, you’ll probably notice a dramatic increase in your physical and mental health.
*Source of the Steps: wikihow, edited and with my own comments in blue