How religion affects sleep health: exploring the perspectives of religious Muslims and Jews in Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Few empirical studies have explored the links between sleep and religion and no research has examined how religious individuals view these links. This article contributes to the literature by drawing on in-depth interviews with 31 midlife Israeli Muslims and Jews who describe themselves as religious or very religious. Findings indicate that respondents shared the view that sleep is important for health and wellbeing, as well as for religious practice and the proper worship of God. Their accounts clarified that religious observance entails a set of social rules and prescriptions as well as beliefs that may affect sleep behaviour and sleep outcomes. Traditional prayer times affected sleep duration for observant Muslims and Jews because respondents woke up early for prayer but could not always retire early enough so as to obtain a sufficient amount of sleep. Religion also dictated a preferred sleep position, to which participants became accustomed and found to be helpful. Respondents maintained that their deep faith in God and the practice of praying helped reduce stress, which contributed to sleep quality. However, among Muslims, missing prayers could arouse feelings of guilt and unease, thus affecting sleep quality. The article concludes that religion affects the sleep of both Muslims and Jews, but these effects vary by how individuals practice their religion and by how religiosity intersects with other social categories, such as gender. Future studies could enrich understanding of the social determinants of sleep by designing research inspired by lay persons’ insights into the association between religion and sleep.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere13809
Pages (from-to)e13809
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Islam
  • Israel
  • Jews
  • Judaism
  • Sleep
  • religion
  • sleep health
  • sleep quality and quantity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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