The Way to BE

Could the Direction You Sleep In Improve Your Health and Well-Being?

Does the position in which you sleep actually affect the amount and quality of sleep that you have?

Why do we NEED sleep?

Believe it or not, even though getting enough sleep is one of the most often heard pieces of medical advice, scientists still don't know why we need to sleep. Sleep psychologist at the University of California in Berkley says: "Why we sleep at all is a strange bastion of the unknown."

Yet you and I know that when we don't get sleep, we start to look and feel much worse. And on top of that, even finding the time to get the 7-9 hours we need, can feel rather difficult if we are faced with sleep problems or insomnia.

Well, now new research has some scientists wondering if our sleep positions may have something to do getting enough and the right kind of sleep.

Sleep Positions May Affect Quality of Sleep

While the evidence is all there that getting a good night sleep is really important to your health and well being, does the magnetic direction in which we align ourselves for sleep (i.e., North, South, East or West) effect the kind of sleep we receive AND how much of it we get?

Answers from Eastern Medicine

Eastern medicinal practices and science agree about the importance of a healthy sleep pattern for continued well being. When it comes to sleep positions, the traditional practices offer practical advice based upon centuries of their use.

The Indian Ayurvedic tradition believes that sleep positions decide the kind of energy we want coming into our life, with sleeping facing the East and South being the most beneficial.

Vishnu Purana, considered one of the most important Hindu religions texts, says: "It is beneficial to lie down with the head placed eastward or southward. The man who lies down with his head placed in contrary directions becomes diseased."

The Chinese Feng Shui system, a 3,000-year old art and sciene of placing objects in a space for optimal energy and health, also has something to say about sleep. In Feung Shui, the location of your bedroom in the house and the direction of your bedroom furniture is more important to the free flow of positive energy and so is critical to getting good sleep. However, in the case of Feung Shui, you might change the direction of your bed depending upon whether you wanted to improve your health, prosperity or your relationship.

The Science

Recent scientific studies are starting to throw some light on this subject and the results show a correlation between the direction we sleep in and the kind of sleep we receive.

Scientists have long suspected that humans like many other animal species have an innate magnetic compass, but have been unsure as to how this affects us. The new research shows that some mammal species always graze and sleep facing north or south and that the earth's magnetic field is probably polarizing and causing his.

Following this, further studies have suggested that humans who sleep in an East-West position have far shorter rapid eye movement or REM sleep cycles, in which dreams occur, compared with North-South sleepers who got more REM sleep.

REM sleep is the final phase in our deep sleep cycle and it usually takes up 20-25% of the total sleep time. There are various theories about what REM is from neural pathway development to memory consolidation, but science is agreed that it is a vital function and so maximizing your amounts could help promote greater health and well being.

Our sleep positions may have some beneficial effects, from increased REM sleep and energy flows to improved and regular patterns. As more research is carried out more will be known. But for now science and Eastern medicine- both agree that getting into a good, regular sleep pattern that suits you is important for everyone.

At Body Ecology, we agree as well. We know that when we sleep, our bodies start a healing process that is critical to feeling our best. Sleeping is also a way to nourish your adrenals, important organs that are key to producing the energy we all seek when we are awake.

At its root, getting enough sleep is about being in touch with the stillness inside of you. Most of us are rushing around from one thing to another. We even rush to bed in order to get enough sleep, but our bodies are so full of adrenaline and cortisol that sleeping can seem impossible. Upon waking, we startle our bodies again with a loud alarm clock. There are better options to waking with an alarm, like theZen Alarm Clock. With its gentle, subtle and beautiful sound, the Zen alarm clock wakes your body up naturally.

So no matter what position you decide to sleep in, make a commitment to yourself now to sink into sleep to enhance your health and well being.

For more on getting your best sleep, read:

Ten Resolutions to Commit to Better Sleep.

Sleeping Trouble? Discover Why Winter is the Ideal Time to Learn How to Sleep Right


  1. Holtz, Robert Lee. Science Journal. Wall Street Journal Online.
  2. Deer, cattle have true animal magnetism: study. Reuters


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  • Steve Ayres

    Could the Direction You Sleep In Improve Your Health and Well-Being. Based on this article, I’d say no.

    Feung ( or feng) Shui (it’s spelled in two different ways in this ‘article’) is jumbo jumbo with no evidence to support any of it’s claims. Do I care any more about what a Hindu religious text says than SCIENCE?


    This article is junk. There’s a claim that scientific studies have ‘suggested’ the direction you sleep in affects R.E.M. sleep. I’d like to see links to those studies. Our sleep position may affect ‘energy flows’. WHAT?? Other than food you eat being converted into energy for your brain, muscles etc. What ‘flow’ of energy is there? Please don’t tell me you’re talking about another bizarre superstition, chi? Some people will believe any old crap you tell them.

    Show me some proper scientific experiments that show the direction of your body when you sleep has any effect on the quality of sleep and I’ll be interested. But if you start talking about energy flows, Feng Shui and ‘eastern medicinal practices’ and I’ll assume you’re a deluded irrational fool.

  • Anthony Kenneth Steele

    we need to sleep to completely forget about our duties

  • Whiskey Jack 207

    I've slept on a north-south axis for years, but I think its equally important to minimize exposure to radio emissions from house wiring, CFL bulbs, wireless routers, etc., during the sleep cycle.
    Civilization imposes many forms of stress on us -- physical, psychological, and spiritual -- and we are all guinea pigs in the onward march of "progress." Many of our sleep disturbances can be traced to these influences.
    As a sidebar, I do wish that the publishers of this article had taken care to check spelling and punctuation before going to print, as it were. So much of what appears on the internet cries out for the attention of a good proofreader.

  • bittyroo

    I've always slept North-South, but with two babies that wake up at night, I'm thinking long REM cycles are not what my body needs. If altering my position will indeed help the little sleep I get, it will be worth readjusting the bed.

  • Troy Chen

    Based on your description of the recent western scientific study, north-south sleep would give more REM sleep. That means one would sleep better in north-south than in east-west. Isn't this contradictory to the oriental beliefs?

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