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Optimizing your sleep setup will have you sleeping well and waking up fresh. You can invest in a mattress that caters to your needs, buy the best sheets and set your thermostat to the recommended temperature for sleep. But have you thought about which direction you sleep in? According to some, however, there is the best direction for sleep.
There is little of scientific evidence that states you should sleep in one direction over another. However, vastu shastra and feng shui suggest that sleeping north-south is better for your well-being, and some sleep experts agree there are some benefits to positioning your bed in this orientation.
We've spoken to clinicians and sleep experts, to discuss if there's any scientific backing behind the best direction for sleep, its history, and whether switching directions might be worth a try.
However, if you're seriously considering switching up your sleep environment for the sake of better sleep, I'd always recommend assessing the state of your mattress first. Investing in one of the best mattresses that suits your sleep needs is certain to transform how well you rest.
What is the best direction for sleep?
The truth is, the direction you sleep in will depend on a variety of factors, including cultural beliefs, personal comfort, and health considerations. As Adeem Azhar, clinical pharmacist and co-founder of Healthcare Organization Core Prescribing Solutions argues that 'from a scientific perspective, the best orientation to sleep in is largely subjective, and can vary person to person depending on comfort, medical conditions and bedroom set up.'
That being said, in some traditions, such as vastu shastra, a Hindu system of architecture and feng shui ,a Chinese system of harmony with the surrounding environment, many choose to sleep in a particular direction. 'Both philosophies advise to sleep with one's head pointing south' says Azhar. Your head should be in the south and your feet in the north, as it were.
But before we go into more detail, it's worth stating that more scientific support is needed to confirm these conclusions. Azhar explains, 'While the direction you sleep in can have some cultural and traditional significance, from a scientific standpoint, more emphasis is put on the position of your body while sleeping and the environment in which you sleep.' Always take into account your personal comfort and consult with a healthcare provider if you have specific sleep concerns or if you have a medical condition that affects your sleep.
Adeem Azhar is a clinical pharmacist and co-founder of Healthcare Organization Core Prescribing Solutions.
Vastu Shastra and sleep orientation
One of the key philosophies of this theory comes from the tradition of vastu shastra, an ancient system of architecture and layout principles. Alison Jones, sleep expert at leading mattress brand Sealy, says that 'according to vastu shastra, pointing your head southwards when you sleep can increase life expectancy, lower blood pressure and leave us feeling energized'. This is linked to the idea that 'you should lay in line with the earth's electromagnetic pull in order to achieve balance and improve sleep quality. It also focuses on the belief that humans have a north and south pole, like Earth, and we should therefore follow the natural magnetic rules our planet follows as well.'
There's no scientific evidence for this, but but there's no harm in positioning your bed to face south to try and feel more energized and recharged.
Alison Jones is the in-house Sleep Expert for Sealy, the world’s number-one bed brand. With her expert information, Alison delves into the science of sleep and the effect it can have on our lifestyle and well-being to ensure everyone gets the best night’s sleep possible. Alison joined Sealy in March 2010 and quickly became the public face of Sealy. Her role as National Training Manager means she has a breadth of knowledge and insight on how we can achieve that much-needed sleep. Alison also has a wealth of experience in communication, coaching, and training.
Feng Shui and bed positioning
Feng shui has sleep rules based on the principle of the ‘commanding position’. In feng shui, the best direction for sleep will that ensure the door is in sight when you're lying in bed, but you are not directly in line with, in front of, or adjacent to it. This is because 'Feng Shui believes energy flows through the doors and windows of a room, so positioning your bed off this path, creates a sense of safety and security.' says Jones.
There are also many cases in which this is not possible, and in this case, you can correct the bed position by using a mirror. Simply place a mirror so that when you’re in bed you can see the reflection of the door. The important thing is to create the perfect sleep environment, and there are many elements to this including; facing the right direction, having a mattress that is specific to your needs, and ensuring the space is free of clutter and mess. Again, there's no scientific backing for this, but it's harmless to try.
Are there any proven benefits for sleep?
There are no proven benefits to sleeping north to south. However, if you're still intruigued, proponents of Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui suggest there are three key benefits:
1. Minimised electromagnetic field disruption
Martin Seeley, founder, and CEO of MattressNextDay explains 'sleeping in the south direction may minimize potential sleep disruptions caused by electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the environment. EMFs are generated by various electronic devices and power sources, and it is suggested that their impact on the body's energy can be reduced when sleeping in a specific direction.' There's no proof of this, but this is the claim from adherents.
2. Enhanced blood circulation
Another claim is that sleeping this way can improve blood circulation, and 'having better blood circulation can have positive effects on overall health and wellbeing.' However, this is unproven.
3. Improved sleep quality
Both of the above benefits can impact sleep. Seeley explains that 'many people claim that sleeping towards the south will sync the body's internal rhythms with the Earth's energy.' This is also said to help keep your spine aligned for the ultimate sleep position which then results in more restful slumber.
The founder and CEO of MattressNextDay, Martin Seeley knows how to overcome any sleep-related problem, offering you the most expert advice and information on a range of health and lifestyle matters.
If you're in need of more scientific backing for your sleep hygiene then you might want to consider your sleep position instead. It's not particularly well-stuided, but as Azhar says, 'There's a body of research about the position of your body when you sleep – whether you sleep on your back, your stomach, or your side. Each position has different implications for things like back health, snoring, and sleep apnea.'
Hence your sleep position and the bedding you have can affect how well you rest. Certain mattresses are designed with sleep styles in mind. Below are some of the best mattresses by sleep style that are proven to assist in more satisfactory sleep.
Best mattress for front sleepers
The Saatva classic mattress is our favorite mattress. The luxury firm option offers a hard sleep surface that was impressive for pressure relief, perfect if you sleep on your front or side and need a little more support to keep your spine aligned.
The Saatva Classic mattress review has more details
Best mattress for side sleepers
Best mattress for back sleepers
The Nectar is a medium-firm mattress perfect for back sleepers. It's proven to tackle back pain, thanks to the balance between firmness and support that works to cushion your lower back and hold the spine in place when sleeping.
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress review has more details.
Which direction to sleep in scientifically?
There is no scientific answer to the best direction for sleep, and ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference. The claimed benefits are not backed by scientific evidence, but there are ways to optimize your sleep set-up for the most relaxing environment. You should assess your sleep position, the condition of the mattress you're sleeping on, the color and quality of your bed sheets, and so on.
The best direction to sleep in will depend on how safe and secure you feel at night. Feeling comfortable is the ultimate way to sleep soundly.
Is it bad to sleep in other directions?
While it's not bad to sleep in any direction, as the best direction depends on your preference, according to vastu shastra, you should avoid sleeping with your feet facing north. This is because your body should be considered as a north pole, and sleeping north is essentially like sleeping upside down. To achieve balance, your head should be south in line with the earth's electromagnetic pull. Sleeping the 'wrong' way can lead to tension headaches and other health problems that could disrupt your sleep. To reiterate, there is no scientific backing behind this, though.
Sleep direction is just one principle said to promote sleep. But if this isn't for you, there are other ways to create a more harmonious sleep environment, including decluttering your space, opting for the best colors for sleep in both your walls and bed sheets, and practicing feng shui through the right bedroom furniture layout.
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Louise is your eCommerce Editor and sleep specialist to help you wind down well. A connoisseur of the mattress world, Louise previously covered sleep and wellness (as well as the occasional organizational buy) at Real Homes, and has tried, tested, and reviewed some of the buys for your bedroom. With an MA in International Journalism and PR experience, Louise brings bags of bedding expertise and enjoys nothing more than helping readers find solutions and products that best suit their sleep needs.
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