I started school again on Wednesday, adjusting to a drastically new schedule. Okay, maybe it wasn't drastically new. My first class is at 8:30am, requiring that I leave my house by about 7:30 since I'll drive to a commuter lot, catch a bus, and walk the remainder of the way to school.
For the last few weeks, though, I haven't needed to leave my house until 9:30 (and frequently left much later than that!) to go to work. So it's a change of a few hours. I used to go back to sleep after praying fajr (waking up for fajr hasn't been a problem since putting my alarm in the bathroom. JAK to the brother who shared that tip.) Overall, I found that I was having to sleep for 8 or 9 hours some nights. That's a lot, especially if you realize that there are some Muslim scholars out there suggesting 6-7 is plenty. (That's for a certain group of people, btw, not everyone.)
So on Wednesday I woke up like I needed to and got moving. Class at 8:30, break. Class at 10:40, break for lunch. Class at 2:20, class at 3:50, ends at 5pm. So I go home, and prepare to go to the gym only to fall asleep before ever making it out the door.
A day full of classes (four senior engineering classes is what I'd consider "full!") and getting up the equivalent to two hours earlier (when I didn't fall asleep any earlier) was enough to make me need a nap. I fell asleep for several hours, further disruping my sleep schedule. Although, I didn't have to be up especially early the next day as I only had work.
The next day I set my G-chat away message to say "When is naptime?" ThoughFriday (when I had class again) it was a little easier and I was just incredibly tired by the time I got to bed.
But yesterday, a friend of mine saw my away message and shared with me a few tips on sleep and napping. I thought I'd share them with you, since she's probably too busy (writing a small book... ouch!)
First of all, let me introduce the concept of "positive sleep" which sort of energizes you, from which you wake feeling refreshed, and "negative sleep" which makes you groggy and disrupts your ability to sleep properly at night.
Since normal sleep time is at night (i.e., when it's dark,) that would be between isha salaat and fajr salaat. Sleeping during this time is obviously going to be positive sleep, but doesn't really need to be mentioned. After fajr, however, is not a good time. It is negative sleep, meaning you'll be more tired after sleeping then (mostly I've found that to be true) then you should be. Plus, after fajr is time with tremendous barakah in it--why waste all that by sleeping?
A good time to sleep, though, is after dhuhr. I remember hearing that it was traditional at the time of Muhammad for people to take a break at the height of the day for a short rest. And isn't such behavior customary in other parts of the world as well? (I've heard it is, though I can't say I speak from experience.)
Then after 'asr prayer is a bad time to nap--it's negative sleep. It will really mess you up--I've done it too many times. Even since high school, I got into the bad habit of taking a nap after coming home. After band days (I was in marching band) I'd be so exhausted that I just wanted to sleep. Unfortunately it's something that's stuck with me a while, getting real petered out by late afternoon. If you sleep after 'asr, you might have a hard time waking up for maghrib, and it will interfere with your ability to sleep properly, by getting to sleep on time, at night.
So if you're looking for naptime, after dhuhr is best. Think about setting an alarm so you don't sleep too late. And if you're still feeling sleepy at fajr time, before you crawl back in bed, think of all the things you could do, and plan to give yourself a 20-minute snooze after dhuhr instead of robbing yourself of early morning barakah.