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What is the best direction to sleep?

Ayurveda’s Triad of Health includes aahar (diet), vihar (balanced living), and nidra (sleep). So much importance is accorded to restful sleep, and so, of course, Ayurveda has a lot of recommendations about how to get better sleep. There are a lot of questions like what should be the head direction while sleeping? Which is the best direction to sleep scientifically? Which direction is best for sleeping according to Vastu Shastra, Ayurveda? In which direction should we sleep daily? What is the correct direction of sleeping for sound sleep? On which side should we sleep?

What does science say about the right sleeping direction?

The direction of sleep is meant to avoid geomagnetic interference. The earth is a huge (albeit weak) magnet, but its impact on human beings is statistically significant.

The earth’s magnetic positive pole is to the North, and the negative is to the South. A human’s head is the positive side of a magnet, and feet are the negative. Positive poles repel, so I’m assuming if we lay with our head to the North, the repelling forces will cause exhaustion.

What does Vastu say about the best direction to sleep?

Vastu, Ayurveda’s sister science, deals with directions; it is the ancient science of architecture and environmental harmony and well-being. The objective of Vastu is to create a congenial setting to live and work within by using the Panchamahabhutas, (the five great elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth), directions, and energy fields for enhanced health, wealth, prosperity and happiness. 

I asked Michael Mastro, a leading North American Vastu expert, about sleep directions, and this was his advice: “We never sleep with our head to the North because positive magnetic energy comes from the North Pole, and our body is a magnet with positive polarity in our head, so this is like bringing two positive ends of magnets together (hence!); they repel each other and disturb blood flow, circulation, and digestion, which does not give restful sleep. If you have health issues, sleeping in the south direction is very beneficial (these recommendations don’t change in the Southern Hemisphere).”

What our scriptures say about sleeping direction

pracyāṁ diśī sthitā devastatpūjarthaṁ ca tacchiraḥ 

(Suśrutsaṁhitā 19.6)

The Suśrut saṁhitā recommends the eastward position of the head. Loss of prāna happens if you sleep with your legs to the South. Streaming of organic energy (jaivik ūrjā) is from the North to the South. Entry of prāna in the body is from the feet and the entry of the soul in a foetus is through the head. 

yatha svakīyānyajināni sarve saṁstīrya vīrāḥ siṣupurdharaṇyām agastaśastām (dakṣiṇām) abhito diśaṁ tu

śīrāṁsi teṣāṁ kurusattamānām ( Mahābhārata)

Lord Krishna advises Yudhisthira to sleep with head towards the South and legs towards the North.

Sleeping toward the North

North-facing sleep is not recommended at all. It draws energy out from the body, disturbing the body-mind-spirit integration. Medically, it is said that the iron in our body coagulates in the brain, causing issues with blood circulation, increased stress, physical and psychiatric issues, and insomnia.

Dr. Vasant Lad says, “Only dead people sleep facing north.” Indeed, the Hindu custom is to arrange a corpse with the head pointing northward till the body is cremated based on the belief that the North is the route for the soul to exit the body.

Sleeping toward the East

The Sun rises in the East, and it is considered a direction of positive waves, force of action, rejuvenation and energy. When we sleep with our heads towards the East, the energy of the Sun enters the body through the head and leaves through the feet, leaving you with a cool head and warm feet. It is particularly beneficial for students because it enhances memory, improves concentration, and is good for overall health.

It is also supposed to be good for meditation and other spiritual pursuits.  Sleeping in the East-West direction enhances creativity, is good for conception and balances all three doshas (Vāta, Pitta and Kapha). 

Studies have shown that people who sleep in this direction have shorter REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep cycles and eye movement (compared to sleeping in the North-South direction), implying fewer dreams and sounder sleep.

Sleeping toward the West

Sleeping toward the West is not advised. There are some who suggest that it increases Rajas, or ambition and restlessness while others consider it to be a neutral sleeping position. However, according to Vāstu, sleeping with one’s head to the West can lead to restless and disturbed sleep, nightmares, and a tendency towards violence. 

Sleeping toward the South

If one goes by the theory of magnets, a mutual attraction between the negative South and positive head creates harmony in sleep. According to mythology, the South is the direction of Lord Yama, and promotes heavy, deep sleep, like the restorative sleep of death. Vāstu practitioners consider this to be the best type of sleep for health, lowering blood pressure, and promoting positive energy, wealth, prosperity, and harmony. 

For Vata people, who often have anxiety and cold hands, sleeping with the head towards the South or southeast is recommended.

People with Pitta aggravation can sleep towards the northwest (for a limited time). 

Sleeping with the head facing west (for a limited time) may bring a Kapha vikruti back to balance.

In 2009, a study in India in the Department of Physiology at the Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences was undertaken to observe whether sleeping with the head in a direction has any effect on heart rate, blood pressure, and serum cortisol during supine rest. It found that those instructed to sleep with their head in the South direction had the lowest SBP (systolic blood pressure), DBP (diastolic blood pressure), HR (heart rate), and SC (serum cortisol). These were statistically significant findings, though it was recommended that further studies were needed in different groups.

Modern science is reiterating what Vāstu and Āyurvedic treatises recommended centuries ago.

Conclusion

  • Recommended: Sleep with the head towards the South and feet towards the North.
  • Next best: Sleep with the head towards the East and feet towards the West.
  • Avoid sleeping with the head towards the West. 
  • Never sleep with the head towards the North.

Is there also a right side to sleep?

Āyurveda suggests sleeping on your left side so that you breathe properly. It reduces the pressure on your heart, helps circulation and promotes better health. Here’s a classic yogic expression on the anatomical position of sleep.

“A bhogi sleeps on the belly, a rogi sleeps on the back, while a yogi sleeps on the side.”

Sleeping on the sides activates the Suryanadi (the right nostril), and Chandranadi (the left nostril) and increases the flow of Prana in our body. It keeps the cells in an awakened state aligned to the divine consciousness and protects our body and mind.

Such flow of the Chaitanya through our energy field not only vitalizes our body but also gets emitted into the environment around us.

So, sleep on this but in the proper direction! 

You can learn powerful techniques for sleep in the Art of Living Workshop to Get Rid of Anxiety and Sleep Disorder.

Anuradha Gupta is an engineer, MBA and Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. She has a corporate background and volunteers for The Art of Living and other nonprofits.

FAQ

East is the best direction to sleep, especially for students. It improves memory, concentration, and overall well-being.
East is the best direction to sleep.
It is recommended to avoid sleeping with your head toward the west.
Sleeping in the north direction is not good. The magnetic pull of the north pole is slowly pulling all the land masses upward. Iron elements are floating in our blood. Normally, the flow of blood is more downwards the heart. But while sleeping, if our head (the positive side of a magnet) is toward the north, the repelling forces will lead to exhaustion.
It is recommended to never sleep with the head towards the north.
Yes, you can sleep with your head facing the south and your feet towards the north.
Yes, it is the best direction to sleep with your head facing the east.
East is the best face for sleeping.
The best direction to sleep at night is your head facing the east and your feet toward the west.
The wife should sleep on the left side of the bed, and the husband should sleep on the right side.
Relax entire body muscles. Shoulder, face, mouth, forehead, cheeks, chest, arms, legs, thighs and calves one by one, and you fall asleep soon.