What should you do after a bad dream? Is there anything in the Sunnah?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Kind

Short Answer

Yes, guidance has been provided in the Sunnah regarding what to do after a bad dream. You should seek refuge, blow spittle on the left side three times and change sides. Then you should not speak about the bad dream or nightmare.

عَنْ جَابِرٍ، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّهُ قَالَ: إِذَا رَأَى أَحَدُكُمُ الرُّؤْيَا يَكْرَهُهَا، فَلْيَبْصُقْ عَنْ يَسَارِهِ ثَلَاثًا وَلْيَسْتَعِذْ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ ثَلَاثًا، وَلْيَتَحَوَّلْ عَنْ جَنْبِهِ الَّذِي كَانَ عَلَيْهِ

(Sayidina) Jabir narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: If one of you sees a dream which he dislikes, he should blow spittle on his left side thrice. And seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan thrice. Additionally, he should turn over from the side on which he was sleeping. (Sahih Muslim 2262 – 5).

The authentic Hadith above, provides guidance regarding what to do after a bad dream or nightmare. Three things are mentioned in this particular Hadith. The person should blow spittle on his left thrice. He or she should also seek refuge in Allah (Most High) thrice. Thereafter, one should switch the side he was sleeping on.

The above recommendations are found in a single Hadith. Additionally, in a separate Hadith we are advised not to mention the bad dream or nightmare. Therefore, it is correct to say that at least four recommendations are mentioned in Sahih Hadith narrations.


Some people become eager to seek an interpretation of a bad dream. Although this is permissible, it is contrary to the Prophetic advice encouraging us not to speak about bad dreams. Furthermore, one should not even worry about them. This is because the Prophet ﷺ informed us that when we refrain from sharing a bad dream, it will not harm us.

Clearly the Muslim is advised to turn away from a bad dream or nightmare. He is not to dwell on it, nor speak about it. Even the advice to switch the side he is sleeping upon (which is one of the recommendations after a bad dream) can assist in this. Likewise, Imam Ibn Elaan suggested this in his commentary.

(وليتحول عن جنبه الذي كان عليه) حين الرؤيا المكروهة تفاؤلاً بتحول الحال من الرؤيا القبيحة إلى الرؤيا المليحة. (دليل الفالحين لطرق رياض الصالحين)

He should turn over from the side on which he was sleeping. At the time of seeing the unpleasant dream. Seeking therein a change in the situation from a vile dream to a pleasant dream. (Imam Muhmmad Ali bin Muhammad bin Elaan, Daleel al-Faliheen).

As seen in the Nass (text) above, one of the intentions the Muslim can make when switching sides is to turn away from the bad dream. Thus, one is looking to put the bad dream behind them hoping for a good dream instead. This practice is one manifestation of the general Islamic practice of shunning that which is negative and focusing on positives.


The four recommendations mentioned in this answer must not be considered an exhaustive list. Rather, anyone who is familiar with Hadith of the blessed Prophet ﷺ will know that it is rare to find an inclusive list of all recommendations or examples in a single Hadith narration.

As well as the specific ritual practices recommended in the Hadith narration above, there is very important guidance provided with regards to attitude or approach. The Muslim must not dwell upon a bad dream or nightmare. On the contrary, one of the most beneficial responses to a bad dream is to ignore it and not speak about it.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (24.03.24)