Traditions as old as Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra ensure that the geographical direction in which we sleep affects our health. Is this possible?
How many times have you heard that sleeping facing north is harmful? This belief, which assures that the cardinal point towards which we sleep can affect our well-being, is so widespread throughout the world that no matter where you are reading this, you have surely heard it. And at that moment you probably wondered what the reason is. and if it really happens that way. Let's take a look at it.
The idea that the geographical direction in which we lie down to sleep influences our health has its origin in the ancient Hindu practice of Vastu Shastra. This set of Ayurvedic teachings aims to live in harmony with the energies that flow in the world, very similar to what the Chinese discipline of Feng Shui proposes – in fact, it is said that both have the same origin. And yes, those energies also flow when we sleep.
The key is magnetism. The Earth, because its core is filled with iron and spins at great speed, has a magnetic field that goes from north to south. According to this philosophy, if you sleep facing north you make the positive pole of the Earth coincide with the positive pole of your body – located theoretically in your head –, making both repel each other. This can cause nightmares and sleep disorders, as well as waking up tired from the "internal struggle" between your body and the planet. Some people go even further, claiming that this polarity can affect blood circulation and even raise cholesterol. On a spiritual level, Hindu tradition believes that when the soul dies it leaves the body for the north, so sleeping in that direction is impure.
Does all this mean that it is best to sleep facing south? Well, not exactly. Although sleeping towards the opposite pole of the Earth makes the energies flow "correctly" and the sleep is deeper, it is recommended to sleep towards the east. In this way the magnetic fields are neutralized and sleep is perfect, also promoting memory and concentration, as well as having general health benefits.Sleeping facing north does not sound good, right?
Does the direction you sleep matter?
The truth is, if you look at what science says, it doesn't. To date, there is no scientific study that has proven the veracity of these theories. In fact, everything we know so far about magnetism, and that is a lot, tells us that the influence of terrestrial magnetism on the body is absolutely nil, because the power of that field is very low, insufficient for us to realize it.
Let us take, for example, a well-known medical diagnostic technique, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The machines that perform it use magnetic fields that are thousands of times more powerful than those of the Earth. If the Vastu Shastra approach is true, submitting to this type of technology would completely disrupt the flow of "natural" energy in our bodies in seconds, making us sick. And that, as we well know, doesn't happen.
On the other hand, the magnetic north and south poles referred to in these theories do not coincide with the traditional geographic poles of the earth, but are separated by several miles – and that is why it is so difficult to reach the geographic poles using a magnetic compass. And above all, what about the people who live in the southern hemisphere? Does it work the opposite way for them?
So, if you were thinking that sleeping facing north was the cause of your sleep problems, you can rest assured. However, other forces of nature such as light may prevent you from sleeping well, so why not try a sleep mask? You don't need to move anything!
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