By Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
As time goes by, societies seem to have been pushed to the brink by the ever-evolving technologies around us. It is not uncommon to hear many people complain that a day of 24 hours is simply not enough to do everything one wants to do. As a result, whether it is for learning or entertainment, it would be nearer to the truth to assert that we have effectively changed the rules of living based on needs and wants that we have created ourselves.
The 24-hour retail store, the city that never sleeps, burning the midnight candle, and many more such clichés, while legitimately observed during very impending circumstances, such as appearing for exams, or a public service that needs fixing before daylight, and other such emergent situations, there is a vast majority of people, who have converted the meaning of nights into hours of compulsory entertainment, rendezvous of a variety of types and wheeling and dealing of smart men and women.
Whichever way you look at it, the clock has been shattered as the barrier between night and day is increasingly thinning for most.
Imam Sajjad (AS) in one of his prayers, while praising the limits imposed by the Almighty on the well defined hours of both day and night, and boldfacing the how immensely necessary they are to the nourishment and growth of living beings, moves on to clearly define the natural functions to be observed during these times – ‘He has therefore created for them, the night they may rest in it from the work that is wearisome and from movements that produce pain. He has made a covering for their comfort and sleep, so that they may be refreshed and strengthened and thereby obtain pleasure and a renewal of appetite. He made for them the day which is full of light, that they may therein seek His grace. That they may find means of sustenance provided by Him and walk about in His earth, searching for that which will yield comfort in this life and blessings in the life to come’.
On the scientific side, research shows that consistently getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night is beneficial. Any more or less can increase your risk for serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even death. Getting enough quality sleep is also key to a healthy lifestyle.
Modern sleep scientists believe that sleep deprivation has deleterious effects on mental concentration, memory, mood, and quality of life. In addition, recent data indicate that sleep deprivation impairs endocrine and metabolic functions.
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Thomas Dekker
Apart from the heaps of evidence that one can search for in relation to sleep, there is another – a more sinister effect of being a night bird, and this one impacts society. Not merely the productivity aspect that economists and commerce experts would be interested to assess, but also the vices that erupt from gatherings, parties and so on, late into the night.
Before annotating these social ills, productivity aspects brings to mind students – not those who are studying in earnest, but those who just cannot sleep at night, and must consume themselves through chatting, movies or just surfing the net for hours on end. ‘Early to bed, early to rise’ becomes an invalidated and antiquated thesis in such an environment. Whether the children learn these things from parents, whose nocturnal social lives prevent them from enforcing any manner of discipline, or that the new trends are simply embraced as the right things to do, as is the case with many parents who feel that they faced subjugation at the hands of their parents, or some kind of deprivation and hence they are all too eager to admit any novelty that a teenager advances to them. The reason could be either or both, the aftermath is certainly undesired because the body, deprived of adequate sleep, fails to then cope with what then becomes a ritualistic visit to the school.
‘They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil.’ – Psalms 36:4 NLT (Bible)
It is not a secret that our society is also plagued in part with this habit of late night gatherings – not just in the Holy month of Ramadhan, when it actually peaks exponentially, but all year round. Some groups choose to use an aid in the form of a chewable herb that suppresses sleep, but because of its partly intoxicating effect, one can as well utter a lot of gibberish in the process. Overworked long-distance truck drivers habitually use this ‘drug’ to keep them awake.
By some accounts, the rate of marital issues that crop up in our community is a result of our inability or sheer reluctance to focus on our new family life but insist on maintaining ‘friend nights’ each week, when we can detach ourselves from responsibilities of the home. These escapades can last long and are profoundly counter product, especially when dealing with little children at home. Initially, it was just the men, but now even the ladies have their own nights. And what do we really imagine may be happening in the company of close friends? Obviously, letting off one’s inner secrets, scandalizing someone else, or falling into a vicious cycle of attraction to other people, despite being attached. And while all this is ongoing, children inevitably ape their parents’ lifestyle, and so the cycle perpetuates itself.
The problem is still a matter of faith – we don’t seem to realise that being a Muslim is not just about wajibat, mustahabbat, muwaddat, and so on, it is a complete way of living such that our developed personalities are capable on their own, without necessitating elaborate tabligh, to attract others to the deen. At present, we stand convicted of not following the very prescriptions that we claim to others are the truth. And so, the effect of our persuasion is diluted, but of course.
‘Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ – Benjamin Franklin
[Image Source: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/8/24/17670582/how-to-sleep-better-insomnia-tips-advice ]