There are many things that one can do to help oneself pray qiyaam al-layl, among which are the following:
1 – Being sincere towards Allaah, as He has commanded us to be sincere towards Him and none other in our deeds. The more sincere a person is towards Allaah, the more he will be guided and helped to obey Allaah and draw closer to Him. Mutarraf ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Shakheer said: “The goodness of a deed is related to the goodness of the heart, and the goodness of the heart is related to the goodness of the intention.” Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The degree to which a person is helped and aided by Allaah depends on the degree of his intention, drive, aim and hopes. Help from Allaah comes to people in proportion to their drive, intention, hopes and fears, and failure comes to them in like manner.”
2 – The person who wants to pray qiyaam al-layl should realize that Allaah is calling him to qiyaam. When the slave realizes Allah, is calling him to do this, he will respond.
3 – Knowing the virtues of qiyaam al-layl. Whoever knows the virtues of this act of worship will be keen to talk to Allaah, may He be exalted, and to stand before Him at that time. Abu Huraira radiallah anhu said: “The best of prayers after the prescribed prayers is prayer in the depths of the night, and the best of fasting after the month of Ramadaan is fasting the month of Allaah, Muharram.” (reported by Muslim).
‘Amr ibn ‘Absah reported that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam said: “The closest that the Lord is to His slave is in the later part of the night, so if you can be one of those who remember Allaah at that time, then do so.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisaa'i).
4 – Studying how the salaf and righteous people practised qiyaam al-layl and adhered to it. The salaf used to enjoy qiyaam al-layl and rejoice greatly in doing it. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Wahb said: “Every type of pleasure is enjoyed only once, except for acts of worship, which are enjoyed three times: when you do it, when you remember it, and when you are given the reward for it.”
Yazeed al-Riqaashi said: “A lot of tahajjud brings delight to the worshippers, and a lot of thirst (i.e., fasting), brings joy when they meet Allaah.”
Abu Bakr al-Marwadhi said: “I was with Imaam Ahmad for nearly four months in the army, and he never stopped praying qiyaam at night or reading Qur’aan during the day, and I never knew when he completed the Qur’aan, because he kept that secret.”
Imaam al-Bukhaari used to pray qiyaam and tahajjud at night until the time of suhoor, and he would read between a half and a third of the Qur’aan, and complete it at suhoor every third night.
5 – Sleeping on one’s right side. The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam taught his ummah to sleep on their right sides. Abu Hurayrah radiallahu anhu said that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam said: “When any one of you goes to bed, let him clear his bed by hitting it with his garment, for he does not know what may have come onto it. Then let him lie down on his right side, then let him say, ‘Bismika Rabbi wada’tu janbi wa bika arfa’uhu. In amsakta nafsi farhamhaa wa in arsaltahaa fahfazhaa bimaa tahfazu bihi ‘ibaadaka al-saaliheen (In Your Name, my Lord, I lay myself down and I get up again. If You take my soul, then have mercy on it, and if You send it back to me, then protect it with that with which You protect Your righteous slaves).’” (Agreed upon).
6 – Going to sleep early. Abu Barzah al-Aslami radiallahu anhu said that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam used to prefer to delay ‘Ishaa’, and he did not like to sleep before it or talk after it. (Reported by al-Bukhaari).
Also, one should not sleep too much or too deeply. Ibraaheem ibn Adham said: “If you are sleeping at night, and running about during the day, and always committing sin, how can you earn the pleasure of the One Who is directing your affairs?”
8 – Having the habit of reciting adhkaar prescribed by sharee’ah before going to sleep, because these adhkaar are like a fortress which protects a person from the Shaytaan, by the permission of Allaah, and helps him to get up for qiyaam.
‘Aa’ishah radiallahu anha reported that when the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam went to bed each night, he would put his palms together, blow in them, and recite Qul huwa Allaahu ahad, Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Falaq and Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Naas, then he would wipe as much of his body as he could with his hands, starting with his head and face, and the front of his body, doing this three times. (Agreed upon).
Similarly, the Muslim should have the habit of reciting adhkaar prescribed by sharee’ah when waking up, The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam said: “When any one of you wakes up, he should say: ‘Al-hamdu Lillaah illadhi radda ‘alayya roohi, wa ‘aafaani fi jasadi wa adhina li bi dhikrihi (Praise be to Allaah Who has restored my soul, given health to my body, and allowed me to remember Him).” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisaa'i, Saheeh al-Jaami’, 326).
9 – Being keen to take a nap or siesta during the day, whether before zuhr or after. Anas radiallahu anhu reported that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam said: “Take a nap, for the shayaateen do not take naps.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani. Al-Saheehah, 2647).
Ishaaq ibn ‘Abd-Allaah said: “Taking a nap is one of the deeds of good people. It revitalizes the heart and helps one to pray qiyaam al-layl.”
10 – Avoiding eating or drinking too much. Eating and drinking too much are two of the main obstacles that prevent people from praying qiyaam al-layl. The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam said: “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few mouthfuls to give him the strength he needs. If he has to fill his stomach, then let him leave one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5674).
Abu Juhayfah radiallahu anhu reported that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wassallam said to a man who burped in his presence: “Stop your burping, for the people who eat the most in this life will be the most hungry hungry on the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by al-Haakim. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1190).
Sufyaan al-Thawri said: “You should eat little, so that you will be able to pray qiyaam al-layl.”
12 – Avoiding sin. If the Muslim wants to be one of those who earn the honour of speaking to Allaah in the depths of the night, let him beware of sin, for the one who is contaminated with the stain of sin will not be helped to pray qiyaam al-layl. A man said to Ibraaheem ibn Adham, “I cannot pray qiyaam al-layl, so tell me the cure for this.” He said, “Do not commit sin during the day, and He will help you to stand before Him at night, for your standing before Him at night is one of the greatest honours, and the sinner does not deserve that honour.”
Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Ayaad said: “If you cannot pray qiyaam al-layl, or fast during the day, know that you are indeed deprived and restricted, chained by your sins.”
13 – Checking oneself and rebuking oneself for not praying qiyaam al-layl. Checking oneself is one of the signs of the righteous and truthful. Allaah says: “O you who believe! Fear Allaah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is All-Aware of what you do.” [al-Hashr 59:18].
Al-Hasan said: “We do not know of any deed more difficult than the struggle to stay up at night or to spend money.” It was said to him, “Why do the mutahajjadeen (those who pray Tahajjud at night) have the most beautiful faces?” He said, “Because they spend time alone with the Most Merciful, so He adorns them with some of His light.”
Source: islamqa.com – Sheikh Muhammad Salih AlMunajjid