Which way to sleep for the best night sleep?
Folklor from many countries suggests that the best way to sleep is with your head pointing to the North because you align your body’s polarity (the head having the north pole) with the Earth’s polarity. The article below suggests that other animals intuitively align themselves with the North.
Like compass needles, cows point north-south
ACCORDING to popular folklore, many animals are smarter than they appear. Dogs bark before earthquakes; chimpanzees know the right herbs to deal with intestinal worms; cattle predict rainfall by sitting on the ground. But cows, in particular, may have a hidden talent that far outweighs any meteorological skills. It appears they know which way is north.
Sabine Begall of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany and her colleagues became interested in animal magnetism when they were working on mole rats—blind animals that live underground and use magnetism to navigate. In a paper published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they looked at whether larger mammals also have the ability to perceive magnetic fields. They did so by studying images of thousands of cattle captured on Google Earth, a website that stitches together high-resolution satellite photographs to produce a simulacrum of the Earth’s surface.
It was not merely a matter of looking for a few fuzzy blobs in fields and recording which way they were pointing. Grazing animals are known to orient themselves in a way that minimises wind chill and maximises the warmth of the sun when they are cold. Dr Begall and her colleagues therefore had to study a lot of cows grazing in lots of different places at different times of day, in order to average out these other factors and see whether there was a residual tendency for cattle to act like compass needles. They were also able to use data collected by colleagues in the Czech Republic on the grazing behaviour of roe and red deer.
The researchers concluded that cattle do generally align themselves in a north-south direction. Moreover, at high latitudes—where the geographical and magnetic poles are perceptibly separate from one another—it was to the magnetic pole that the animals pointed. Unfortunately, even the high resolution of Google Earth is not good enough to tell routinely which end of a cow is its head, and which its tail. Dr Begall was therefore unable to answer the vexed questions of whether cows prefer to look north or south, and whether that differs in the northern and southern hemispheres. With the Czech deer, however, the answer is a definitive “north”.
These results, though curious, are not as unexpected as you might think. Several animals besides mole rats are known to be magnetosensitive. Some birds use magnetic fields to navigate. And north-south preferences like those Dr Begall thinks she has found in cattle have also been noted in flies, termites and honeybees. But the true extent of any magnetic “sixth sense” in animals remains unknown. Nor is it clear how this extra sense works. In birds, Dr Begall says, there is probably a receptor in the eyes. In mole rats there are hints of particles of magnetite (a naturally magnetic form of iron oxide) in the cornea. But how such crystals send signals to the nervous system remains a mystery.
As for people, there have been studies which suggest that magnetic fields influence biological processes such as rapid eye movement in sleep. Also, electroencephalograms seem to vary according to the direction in which people are facing when they are recorded. It is not quite GPS, but humans are clever enough to use a variety of phenomena to navigate when lost. Not least, of course, looking at which way the cows are pointing.
Source: Magnetism and behaviour
Aug 28th 2008
From The Economist print edition
In Vastu (an Indian feng shui system) there is a belief that sleeping with your head towards the south is better because if your head is a kind of north part of a magnet then sleeping towards north will repel each other ie your head and the North Pole. This kind of thinking is completely wrong since you’re trying to align yourself with the magnetic field of the earth and not positioning yourself in opposite direction as Vastu states. If the Vastu thinking was accurate, then two people sleeping together with their heads near each other would repel each other. Also, above research suggests that animals are much clever that some people who spread such nonsense.
In holistic feng shui, other factors, such as geopathic stress are more important than the direction of your bed’s position.