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I remember reading somewhere:

when you sleep in a way subjecting your body to cut the geomagnetic field at right angles, you become highly emotional whereas when it is Parallel, it cools your mind.

Meaning, it's better to sleep with your body/bed aligned in north-south direction.

On the contrary, there is a local belief saying "do not sleep with your head towards north direction" there's a mythological story to back it up too! "Birth of Ganesh".

  • Earth's Magnetic field is not that strong enough to influence our emotions. Or does it?
  • Can this theory be applied in the presence of stronger magnetic fields around? Are there any such fields in day to day presence?

just curious to know.

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closed as off-topic by Chris White, Dilaton, Dan, user1504, Waffle's Crazy Peanut Jul 11 '13 at 1:44

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The popular belief against sleeping with your head towards north has to do with the position of the window, that usually is on the south wall. The air near the window cools down and so there is slow but significant convection inside the room. By sleeping with your head just in the opposite direction to the window, you are more likely to get a cold because the air you breathe is being renewed relentlessly during the night, than by sleeping with your body normal to the convective stream. –  Eduardo Guerras Valera Apr 24 '13 at 23:11
The field of scientific study I believe you are referring to is called: Magnetoception. –  Mark Rovetta Jul 8 '13 at 21:52
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a biological response to an environmental factor. Perhaps biology.stackexchange.com or (with a definitive citation for the claim) skeptics.stackexchange.com would be better places to ask. –  Chris White Jul 9 '13 at 6:25

4 Answers 4

When I was an undergrad, I was routinely subjected to magnetic fields thousands of times more powerful than Earth's because I was a research subject for MRI experiments. I noticed no powerful emotions induced by the magnetism, and I haven't heard of other subjects experiencing them, either. (People do experience claustrophobia in the MRI, but probably not because of the magnetic field.) It's unlikely that Earth's magnetic field does much to your brain.

However, there is serious scientific study of the effects of magnetic fields on brains, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcranial_magnetic_stimulation.

I've had that done as a research subject, too. I didn't notice any emotions there, either, but apparently it does have some impact on how people act and make decisions.

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Right. I also have been for hours in fringe magnetic fields from the ten tesla magnet of the experiment. This fringe was strong enough to distort screen displays ( when screens were cathode tubes :) ). Going closer to the magnet during routine inspections I did feel something like the effect a buzz would have, disorienting, though I did not hear a real buzz. Like going through gauze curtains. I had a colleague who thought he got a retina detachment from inspecting the Gargamele magnet inside while it was active. –  anna v Jul 9 '13 at 5:48

Strong magnetic fields can affect the brain. See for this example this article from MIT, or Googling will find you many such articles (from reputable sources - ignore the more lunatic fringes of the Internet!).

However the magnetic fields used in these studies are much, much stronger than Earth's magnetic field. No-one has ever shown that Earth's magnetic field has any effect on the brain, and you should feel free to sleep any way you want :-)

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Reasons why such an effect is very unlikely:

1) There is no reason for such an effect to occur.
2) For there to be a preferred direction of orientation, that would require a preferred direction of structure in the brain---which there is no evidence is the case.
3) If the brain, somehow (magically), was able to 'know' which direction magnetic fields pointed, then presumably we would have evolved the ability to utilize it like birds. This is not the case*.
4) Sleep studies are often done in (f)MRI machines with fields thousands of times stronger, and no such results have ever been seen.

*There have been some reports of evidence for magnetoception in humans, but these claims are consistently unreproducible.

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I don't think 1) is good argument :) –  Bernhard Feb 19 '13 at 19:29
I have indeed fallen sound asleep in an fMRI machine many times (much to the dismay of the neuroscientists running the experiment...) –  Chris White Jul 9 '13 at 6:21

I am S M Pandi from India. I am doing research on this area from my childhood ( when i was 14 years ).The behavior of human brain is related to Earth magnetic field only. As per my research , The Human Brain is reacting over the influence of the Earth's magnetic poles. ( in practical life , it matters just directions whether South to North OR East to West ).

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Did you publish any papers? Can we have some reference to your claims? –  SparKot ॐ Feb 19 '13 at 18:42
You have to note the position of the window in your experiences, to be sure that the correlation you are detecting is not due to that variable. The position of the window does matter, because it affects how the air moves inside the room. See my comment below the main question. –  Eduardo Guerras Valera Apr 24 '13 at 23:18

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