The Prophet’s Guidance on Sleep, Physical Activity, Drink and Food


For this topic, the references are all taken from the book ‘Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet’. The book was originally written in Arabic by Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyah with the title ‘At-Tib an-Nabawee’. This book has also been mentioned by my respected teacher in the Islamic Medicine class.

For each of these 3 topics discussed here – [1] Sleep [2] Physical Activity [3] Drink & Food, we only take some parts mentioned in the book.


[1] Sleep

“The Prophet did not oversleep or deprive his body of necessary sleep, making his method in this regard the most perfect. He used to sleep when sleep is warranted and would lay on his right side and remember Allah in supplication until sleep overwhelmed his eyes. Also, his body would not be burdened with overeating or overdrinking. He neither slept on the bare floor, or on high beds. Rather, he had mats made of leaves, used to lean on a pillow and would sometimes place his hand under his cheek.”

“The best type of sleep is for one to sleep on his right side so that the food sits in the stomach comfortably, for the stomach leans to left side as we have stated. One could also lay on his left side a little so that the digestion is made faster because the stomach leans on the liver. One should then turn again on his right side to help the stomach push the food down the stomach and this way one starts and ends his sleep while laying on his right side. Sleeping on the left side regularly harms the heart because the organs of the body will pressure the heart with their weight.”

“Sleeping during the early morning prevents sustenance from coming in that the early morning is the time when the creation goes out to seek their sustenance. Being asleep during this time in which sustenance is being divided causes one to miss out on this chance of gaining sustenance, except when one sleeps for a necessity or a need. This type of sleep is also very harmful for the body because it causes numbness in the senses and spoils the stomach’s contents that should be being decomposed through physical activity.”

“Ibn ‘Abbas once saw his son sleeping in the early morning and said to him, “Wake up! Do you sleep at the hour during which sustenance is being divided.””

We believe that most people don’t have any problems waking up early during weekdays. The challenge is to stay awake in the early morning on weekends.


[2] Physical Activity

“It is a fact that the body relies on food and drink for its survival. It is also a fact that not all of the food and nourishment is digested when consumed. Rather, a part of it remains, and as time goes by, these substances accumulate in various qualities and quantities in the body. These accumulations harm the body because they cause clogs in different vessels and make the body feel heavy.”

“If one gets rid of these substances by extracting them with medication, the body is harmed because most of these medications are toxic to varying degrees. In fact, the medication extracts the beneficial substances along with the harmful ones. As for the quality of these substances, the body is harmed when they heat up, spoil, or become cold or weaken the natural heat and energy from fully maturing the excess substances.”

“The clogs caused by the residual substances are harmful whether they remain in the body or get extracted. Moving about is one of the best methods to deny these substances the chance to accumulate. Moving heats the organs and dissipates the leftover substances disallowing them from accumulating by the passage of time.”

“The body will also get used to being energetic and light through physical activity and would optimize the intake of food, firm up the joints and strengthen the muscles and the ligaments. Moderate physical activity immunizes the body against most ailments and mood changes, providing the activity is done at the right time and under proper circumstances.”

“Physical activity should be practiced after one has digested their food. In addition, moderate activity is that which gives the cheeks color and which nourishes the body. As for the activity that causes sweat it is too excessive.”

Our body is designed in a way that we should take at least 10,000 steps per day. Just by walking along the park, or around your residence area could be the moderate activity which nourishes the body.

“Any organ that is used regularly in a type of physical activity will get stronger, especially during enjoyable sports in which the organ is used.”

“Horse riding, archery, wrestling and running are sports for the whole body. These types of sports dissipate chronic ailments, such as leprosy, dropsy and constipation.”


[3] Drink & Food

“The Prophet used to drink honey with cold water, and this is an especially effective method to preserve the health that only the best doctors could have knowledge of. Drinking honey on an empty stomach will dissolve phlegm, purify the stomach’s protective layers and dissipate its viscidity and excrements while heating it mildly. Honey also helps against the clogs in the stomach, kidney, liver and prostate. Honey is much more profitable to the stomach than any other sweet.”

“We should state that honey might harm those suffering from bile, because it aggravates it. In this case, the harmful side effect of honey is neutralized when taking it with vinegar, as this method makes the honey very beneficial.”

 “He also used to drink the water of soaked dates to neutralize the effect of heavy foods. Further, the Prophet used to eat dinner even if it only consisted of a few dates.”

“Aby Nu’aym mention that the Prophet used to discourage sleeping just after eating food because it will harden the heart. The doctors also advise the people to walk even a few steps after dinner, because sleeping just after dinner is very harmful. Muslim doctors add that one could also pray after eating dinner, so that the food resides in the bottom of the stomach where it will be easily digested.”

“The Prophet did not drink [water or milk] with his food, because the drink would spoil the food, especially when the water is hot or cold.”

“It is not preferred that one drinks water after sports activity, when tired, after sexual intercourse, *before and after eating food and after eating fruit. Also, it is not preferred that one drinks water *after taking a bath and after sleeping. All these activities will harm the health and one should not think about the benefits he might gain from drinking with the food.”

*We would like to mention here for the mentioned time:-

  1. *before and after eating food – it is recommended that we drink water 30 minutes before eating food, and 30 minutes after eating foods.
  2. *after taking a bath and after sleeping – what it meant here is there should be a time gap between drinking water and these 2 activities. For example, we should avoid drinking water within 60 seconds after taking bath. Rather take several minutes before drinking the water. Same goes to drinking after sleeping. What we would suggest is to have a time gap in between waking up and drinking.


“The Prophet never mixed fish and milk, milk and sour foods,*…, eggs and milk, or meat and milk. Also, he neither ate a food when it is rather hot, nor old food that was heated for him the next day. Further, he did not eat any salty or rotten foods, such as pickles. All these types of foods are harmful and cause the health to change for the worst.”

*…There is silence in the middle of the passage because those things mentioned in the book required long explanation. We afraid if it might be misinterpreted in the absence of long explanation. Hence, we’d suggest you to buy this book from the publisher. (Please take note that we don’t get any profits by suggesting this book. All we want is the best for our readers. And the best is to read the whole book. Allahu’alam)


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