We spend an amazing one-third of our lives asleep. But this is more than just a surprising and interesting fact. It is an important part of being healthy. Of course, we know that getting the proper amount of sleep is important for our mind and mood, but did you know that how you sleep is also an important part of of your health?

We all know how important the right posture is for our health throughout the day. But this doesn’t stop once you close your eyes at night.

“Eighty percent of the population will have back problems at some point in [their] lives oftentimes caused or aggravated by the way they sleep,” asserts Dr. Hooman Melamed, an orthopedic spine surgeon at the DISC Sports & Spine Center in Los Angeles, Calif. The best way to sleep in on your back, as this will help keep your spine properly aligned. Sleeping in this position also puts less pressure on your head, neck, and spine to maintain a neutral position. In other words, you aren’t contorting your body into any “unnatural” positions—you’re not forcing any extra curves into your back, says Steven Diamant. It’s also ideal for fighting acid reflux, says Eric Olson, M.D., co-director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota: “If the head is elevated, your stomach will be below your esophagus so acid or food can’t come back up.”

However, your partner might not like this position so much, as you are more likely to snore while sleeping on your back. A few other considerations: You also shouldn’t go to bed hungry or overly full. Your discomfort might keep you up, and lying down when you are full makes the digestion process a bit harder on your body. Of course, your mattress and pillow also play a role in how effective your sleep is, and avoid caffeine. It can take hours for its effects to wear off.

But to get back to the topic at hand: Which sleeping positions are best? which ones are the sleeping equivalent of walking on your hands? This great infographic lays it all out.

sleep

healthiest way to sleep