Does it matter which direction your body is oriented when you lay your head down to sleep?
Some ancient civilizations apparently thought so. The Mahabharata, one of the ancient texts of India, was probably composed in the 8th or 9th centuries BC but possibly much older than that (certainly the authors of Hamlet's Mill demonstrate throughout their book that the Mahabharata contains encoded ancient knowledge which is likely from the same source as the ancient knowledge that turns up in ancient Egypt and ancient Sumer and other civilizations around the world -- we have examined one such piece of evidence from the Mahabharata in this previous post). The Mahabharata instructs its readers:
They that are wise should never see themselves in an unpolished or dirty mirror. One should never have sexual congress with a woman that is unknown or with one that is quick with child. One should never sleep with head turned towards the north or the west. [See this online version, and to find the passage cited, look in the section marked page 199, in section 104].This very ancient injunction against sleeping with the head to the north or to the west has been preserved among Indian culture, according to some sources. For example, Swami Buaji (who lived to quite an advanced age) apparently believed the same thing about the importance of the direction of the head while sleeping. In this passage, which is cited around the internet in various places, he says:
"Never lie down to sleep with your head northward or westward" is a common injunction given from time immemorial by the Indian mother to her children. Almost every Hindu- orthodox or heterodox- observes this dictum of his ancestors, but he doesn't know the rationale or significance behind the dictum, although it has been handed down to him through generations. For example, Vishnu Purana says: "O King! 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 Varshaadi Nool says: "Sleeping eastward is good; sleeping southward prolongs life; sleeping westward and northward brings ruin." The Mahabharata says: "Men become wise by sleeping eastward and southward." There are two Tamil proverbs which run thus: "Vaaraatha Vashvu Vanthaalum Vadakkae Thalai Vaikkakkuudathu", meaning; " Even in the heyday of sudden fortune, one should not lie down with head to the north", and " Vidakkeiyayinum Vadakkaakaathu", meaning: "Even the head of the dried fish should not be placed northward." The Ayurvedic physician seats his patients facing eastward before diagnosing the disease or administering his medicine. Brides and bridegrooms are always seated facing eastward on the wedding day. Even corpses are placed down with the head southward.In addition to cited numerous other texts and proverbs beyond the Mahabharata, Swami Buaji also gives some explanation as to why he believed the direction of the body at rest was important. According to that Yogi, human beings reflect the planet earth in having a north pole and a south pole, and the alignment of our body while sleeping matters because the flow of energy through the earth effects our own magnetic field.
This unrelated website appears to counsel very much the same thing, arguing the importance of the direction of the body during sleep and proposing that head facing east and feet facing west is beneficial.
We have seen in previous posts that ancient cultures appear to have been aware of the low-frequency underground electric currents called telluric energy which flow through the earth (see for instance "Magnetic polarity at Avebury Henge"). It is quite likely that the ancients were aware of some of the influence that the earth's energy has on the human body (some researchers point to evidence that this energy also impacts seeds and the positive growth of plants).
Even in our supposedly advanced modern civilization, we know very little about sleep. In fact, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School admits that we still do not even really know why we and other animals require sleep at all! Recent studies have found a strong link between quality of sleep and successful aging.
Based upon the fact that Swami Buaji was healthy and active at a very advanced age (according to his followers, he was still teaching at ages over 110, determining his age by photographic evidence from various times in his life), it may be prudent to consider carefully his advice on the direction of the head and body during sleep. The fact that his teaching is backed up by very ancient texts, from civilizations that appear to have known more about the earth's energy field and its impact on life on earth than we do today, would appear to make his case even stronger.