Which Direction Do You Sleep In? According to Ayurveda, It Matters

On a scale of one to 10, how would you rank the quality of your sleep? Do you wake up feeling refreshed? Or do you feel completely zapped of energy, as though you never actually slept? Perhaps you toss and turn all night due to active and agitating dreams. You can blame it on the late afternoon chocolate pick-me-up, the glass of Malbec, or the conflict at work, but it might actually be your sleeping direction.

Yes, you read that right. According to vastu shastra, the traditional Hindu “science of architecture” (sort of like the Hindu version of feng shui), the direction in which your head points while you slumber can determine how much juice you get out of your Zs.

By now, we all know that sleep is extraordinarily important. Not only does a good night’s rest allow us to be nice people, but it also enables the subconscious to perform repair work on the body. Ayurveda asserts that there are three pillars of health: diet, sleep, and energy management. Think of these three pillars as the legs of a chair; if one is falling short, or out of balance, then the whole chair will wobble, as will your health. Sometimes we do all the right things—unplug the electronics by 8:00 pm, meditate, do some gratitude journaling—and yet, sleep is still elusive. This is where Ayurveda might turn to the ancient wisdom of vastu shastra for resolution.

Vastu shastra seeks to balance the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) by ensuring that they are in proper position and proportion. The intention is to create a harmonious, peaceful, and healthy home. With the understanding that we are constantly receiving and radiating energy, it is critical to sleep in an orientation that is conducive to propagating quality energy.

Without further ado, let’s investigate the best sleep options per vastu shastra. Please note that placement refers to the direction in which the top of the head is pointing when supine.

North

To quote the great Vasant Lad, “Only dead people sleep pointing north.” It is Hindu custom to arrange a corpse so that the head of the deceased is pointing north until cremation. The Hindu belief is that north is the route that the soul takes to exit the body. Because of this notion, northward sleeping is thought to be desirable only for lucid dreaming and astral travel; otherwise, sleeping with the head toward the north is ill advised due to the earth’s magnetism.

As rug rats, we learned that the earth has a magnetic pole extending from north to south, with the positive pole to the north and the negative pole to the south. Consider the idea that the human being is also like a magnetic pole, with the top of the head positively charged and the bottom of the feet negatively charged. If you grab two magnets and try to place the positive poles together, they repel like a vampire on a sunny beach. Similarly, if you lay with your head to the north, there are two positive poles at work creating a riveting skirmish. Sadly, the earth’s pole will always win, as it is greater, and we will wake up feeling exhausted from this subconscious battle that has been ensuing all night.

This magnetic phenomenon is also thought to affect the circulation of blood, causing stress, illness, and disturbance of the mind. Vastu shastra teaches that if you sleep with your head to the north, you may experience misery, frustration, crankiness, lack of emotional stability, diminished willpower, and/or physical ailments.

Ayurvedic physician Robert E. Svoboda says, “Sleeping with your head into the north draws energy out of the body, disturbing body-mind-spirit integration.” Moral of the story? Don’t sleep north.

East

For all you students out there, east is your ideal sleep direction. Sleeping with your head pointing east is a boon for any academic pursuits. It boosts memory, increases concentration, and promotes meditative sleep, resulting in good health. East is recommended for scholars, teachers and those looking for fresh career opportunities or promotions. The quality of this sleep is thought to make a person feel powerful and energized. In addition, this is the position suggested for those hoping to overcome any health-related obstacles.

West

Sleeping west is a mixed bag. Many suggest that sleeping west is ideal for those who are success driven, striving for fame, wealth, and a stellar reputation. If your goal is to take over the world and have 1.4 million followers on Instagram, go west. Other sources suggest that west is a neutral sleeping position, while some say west is not ideal and promotes active and unsettling dreams. Allegedly, those dedicated to the science of vastu shastra purposely have their guest bedrooms equipped with a bed pointing west. As a result, their company does not achieve a restful night’s rest; thus, lacking rejuvenating sleep, they will not be inclined to overstay their welcome. According to Robert, “Sleeping with your head into the west or north opposes sleep’s chief goal, which is to maximize rest and recuperation.”

South

And we have a winner. South is ruled by the Hindu god Yama; therefore, sleep south if you want to have the heavy and deep sleep of death. Going back to the magnetic pole theory, a mutual attraction (head positive, south negative) creates a harmonious exchange that draws energy into the body, rather than out, as in the case of north. This direction promotes health, happiness, and prosperity. Who isn’t happy when they’ve slept like a log?

Experiment with the position of your bed and see what happens. I’ve had a handful of friends switch their sleeping position from north to south and find immediate relief from restless nights. Your partner, pet, or plants may not love you rearranging the furniture on the reg, but just explain that your happiness and prosperity will soar with this new reconfiguration. Sweet dreams.

Lauren Gernady is the Academic Coordinator of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher.

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