1. Introduction

Each of us would like to know how to sleep well so that we get up well rested. A number of factors are involved in how to sleep well. One of the factors is our sleep posture. We all have a typical sleep posture and we feel comfortable when we sleep in that sleep posture. We are aware that there are implications of our sleep posture from a physical health point of view. Also there are many psychological explanations of the sleep postures. In this article, we will explain how to sleep well from a spiritual perspective. We will focus on which sleep posture is the best to sleep well, and why. We will explain what actually happens in the subtle dimension with each sleep posture so that we can make an educated decision on how to sleep well in the best sleep posture.

At the outset we have to understand that

  • From a spiritual perspective, sleep is basically a state most related to the subtle basic Tama component. That means during sleep the subtle basic Tama component in our body gets heightened.
  • Coupled with this, as our spiritual practice is also at its lowest during sleep, we are spiritually most vulnerable when we sleep. As a result when we sleep, we are more susceptible to attacks by negative energies.

We also need a basic understanding of the Kundalini energy system of the body.

The Kundalini is the inherent spiritual energy system in the body. It consists of 7 main centres or chakras, 3 main channels – the Pingala-nadi (Sun or Right channel), Ida-nadi (Moon or Left channel and Sushumna-nadi (Central channel) and innumerable ducts and ductules.

The below diagram is a representation of the dormant Kundalini energy system in a human being.

The energy for the bodily and mental functions flows through the Pingala- nadi and Ida-nadi. The energy flowing through the Sushumna-nadi is related to spiritual growth.

The Pingala-nadi is Raja predominant, whereas the Ida-nadi is Sattva predominant. The energy flows alternately through the Ida and Pingala. This shift happens every 3-4 minutes. Even though the energy flow changes so often, as the Ida and Pingala cross sides across the body both parts of the body receive adequate energy of each type. This maintains a balance between the 2 types of energy flows.

During the changeover from the Pingala to the Ida the Sushumna-nadi gets activated very briefly for 1-2 seconds in people with lower spiritual level. This is negligible from the perspective of any benefit from the activated Sushumna-nadi . With increasing spiritual level the duration of activation of the Sushumna-nadi increases. Above 55% spiritual level the duration of activation lasts for more than 1-2 minutes. When it lasts this long, some benefit results in terms of spiritual growth.

The activation of the channels also depends on the sleep posture. The channel opposite to the side we are sleeping on gets activated predominantly. When one sleeps on the back, the Sushumna-nadi gets activated in people above the 55% spiritual level. In people below this level, no channel is activated.

The activation of the Ida and Pingala can also be as per the requirement of the body. For example after our meals the Pingala is predominantly activated to facilitate digestion of food.

Also when there is a surge of emotions the Pingala is activated. When the emotions subside the Ida gets activated. However when there are rapid and frequent vacillations in the emotional state there is a rapid and irregular shift in activation of the 2 channels as the Pingala remains predominantly activated. As a result there is an imbalance in the 2 types of energy flows (Raja and Sattva). In an emotional person, this roller coaster of emotions continues even in sleep in the sub-conscious mind. This is because the impressions in the sub-conscious mind are active even in sleep.

2. Sleep posture 1 – sleeping on the back

When we sleep on our back

  • The Chetana in the cells of our body becomes unmanifest and dormant.
  • Our body is most exposed to the Patal (Region of Hell) as a major portion of the body is directed towards the floor.

Due to the combined effect of the above 2 factors, the body cells are unable to repel the attacks from the Patal.

However, the effect of this sleep posture differs as per the spiritual level of the person.

Scenario 1: Spiritual level below 55%

In a person below the 55% spiritual level, the extent of emotions is quite high compared to his bhav (spiritual emotion). Due to this there are frequent and rapid vacillations between the channels. Hence there is a constant imbalance in the energy flows from the Pingala and Ida-nadis of the Kundalini energy system in the body.

As explained above, when a person below the 55% spiritual level takes a sleep posture of lying on his back his Sushumna-nadi is not activated. However because of his emotional nature there is an imbalanced flow of energy to the body. The imbalance between the two energy flows of the Pingala and Ida-nadis can effect a rapid transfer of subtle basic Raja-Tama components in the body from the surrounding atmosphere. When there is an increase in the subtle basic Raja-Tama components, a person runs a higher risk of being attacked by distressing vibrations from the Patal. However once one has progressed spiritually to the level of unmanifest bhav, one can control the energy flows. Till such time it is best to avoid sleeping on one’s back where there is maximum exposure of the body to the ground and thereby to the Patal.

Remedy : However for some reason if one does need to sleep on the back, the risk of distress can be reduced by using spiritual remedies like lighting a Sattvik udbatti (incense stick) like the Sanatan udbatti near the bed before going to sleep, keeping a picture of God under the pillow, spiritual purification of the bedroom, especially near the bed, playing the chant of Name of God in a very low volume throughout the night etc.

Scenario 2: Spiritual level above 55%

When a person above 55% spiritual level sleeps on his back, his Sushumna-nadi is activated. The bhav of this person is quite high; whereas the influence of emotions is quite reduced. When one is above the 55% spiritual level one attains control on the flow of the subtle basic Raja-Tama in the body as per the requirement. This happens at the level of one’s unmanifest bhav. This is because one starts functioning more and more at the level of the Atmashakti (Energy of Soul). This is opposed to the level of Manah-shakti (Energy of Mind) in the case of people below the 55% spiritual level. This Atmashakti maintains the balance between the Pingala and Ida-nadis of the Kundalini system.

3. Sleep posture 2 – sleeping on the stomach

When a person sleeps on his stomach, there is pressure on the spaces in his abdomen. This pressure instigates the downward flow of the subtle excretory gases in the abdominal spaces. Sometimes when the proportion of these subtle excretory gases is high in the chest, they move in the upward direction too and exit out of the body through the nose and mouth. During the course of this dispelling of the subtle excretory gases, the body is highly sensitive to imbibing of the frequencies of subtle basic Raja-Tama components from the external environment. When one is sleeping in this posture, the movements of the actual body organs are slowed and the spaces around the organs are activated because of the pressure of the subtle excretory gases. Due to this the process of excretion of subtle excretory gases excreted from the organs and filled in the spaces is hastened. During this period the person’s body is hypersensitive to the process of transmission of the subtle basic Raja-Tama components at the subtle level. As a result the person is vulnerable to attacks by negative energies from the environment as well as from the Patal.

4. Sleep posture 3 – sleeping on the sides

When a person sleeps on his side the Pingala and Ida-nadis of the Kundalini system are predominantly activated.

  • The Pingala-nadi is activated when a person sleeps on his left side.
  • The Ida-nadi is activated when a person sleeps on his right side.

When the Pingala and Ida-nadis are activated, the Chetana in the body cells remains activated. As a result there is a lower level of the subtle basic Tama component generated and the Chetana also helps fight the attacks from negative energies.

5. In summary

From a spiritual perspective unless one is above the 55% spiritual level, it is best to sleep on one’s sides