Many people ask me about the pros and cons to hammock sleeping and whether or not you should actually spend a whole night in a hammock. It's a common assumption that by morning your back will be all knotted up and your neck kinked. Many have considered using a hammock to replace their beds or take on their next backpacking trip, but become hesitant when faced with the common rumor. Usually these questions come from a skeptical standpoint where they imagine the ‘banana’ shape of a hammock and wonder how that could possibly provide long-term comfort throughout the night.
Guess what? Sleeping in hammocks is actually good for you. It shocks most when I tell them that hammocks actually have been proven to cure insomnia and relief common back problems. While sleeping studies are only recently discovering the health benefits of hammocks it is actually a common practice in most cultures. Central and South America have been sleeping in hammocks for centuries and it’s not due to poverty, but rather they understand the long term benefits and have embraced it into their culture. Many even began sleeping in hammocks as infants and have carried it over into their adulthood.
So if millions around the world sleep in hammocks and studies are proving it to be beneficial, then why do I have many asking if it is a good idea?
The answer is simple; it all comes down to two things - not having a properly constructed hammock and not setting it up correctly. Those two things have turned many away from spending a whole night in a hammock. But when equipped with a quality nylon hammock and the technique for proper set up, the whole game changes and you’ll find yourself never wanting to sleep in a bed again.
Before explaining the healthiest position and setup for your hammock, it's important to take note of one of the most common mistakes people make when setting up hammocks.
So it’s your first time setting up a hammock, you’re all pumped and excited to jump on in and doze off. As you take a step back you realize that the hammock has a curve and your back starts to ache at just the thought of bending in such a way all night. At this point you write off that situation and you buckle down to tighten your hammock as tight as possible.
You’ve just made a mistake.
Certainly when you tighten your hammock it provides a flatter surface; something you would be more willing to sleep in. The issue is, the hammock will always dip in and with it too tight the edges of the hammock begin to cocoon leaving you with little room to stretch and feeling constrained. Not to mention that pulling it too tight makes it more prone to damaging its attachment points (trees, posts etc.). It's actually possible to lie your body flat in a hammock without pulling the hammock tight.
The natural curve of hammocks is actually the crucial part to achieving that flat, zero pressure point surface which makes hammocks so healthy.
Keeping the hammock loose allows you more freedom of movement and allows you to maximize the size of your double hammock. You can think of it like, “If your hammock feels loose and relaxed, you soon will be too”.
On the other extreme, attaching your hammock to trees that are too close together can give you a deep curve that will leave your knees touching your head. When finding the perfect distance to setup your hammock it’s important to take note of your hammock length and adjust accordingly. For instant, the Live Infinitely Double Hammock is 9 feet 10 inches long, which would mean that finding two trees about 9 feet apart would give us a good curve.
So when it really comes down to finding the perfect position to lie in your hammock, is it really possible to achieve a flat position and get a good nights rest? With what I’m about to tell you, you’ll soon understand why not pulling it tight and allowing the hammock to curve is so crucial.
Lie in your hammock straight in the center as you normally would.
Now, bring your feet about 8-12 inches to one side of the hammock. Do it until you notice that they are sitting much lower than they were before. Then repeat with you head, but to the opposite side. If you did it correctly, you are now lying almost completely flat in a curved hammock.
This was broken down into two movements, but essentially all you’re doing is shifting your body 30 degrees across your hammock. Your body won’t be completely flat, your head and feet will be slightly elevated as they should and the material of the hammock will conform to the curve of your spine. This provides you an absolute ideal sleeping position with zero pressure points on your body. This position cannot be achieved if the hammock is pulled too tight, which is why it is so important to allow your hammock to be loose with a nice curve.
If you’re a side sleeper like myself then this hammock angle provides you a flat enough surface to find the ultimate side position. Who knew you could actually sleep on your side in a hammock? I was amazed the first time I found this position, and couldn't believe how comfortable it was. I also have the hardest time falling asleep on my back in a bed, even though doctors say it’s the healthiest. In my hammock I often find myself not realizing that I have fallen asleep and stayed asleep on my back. So even though I am a dedicated side sleeper, I have found an immense amount of comfort sleeping on my back in a hammock as well.
The truth of the matter is that many people suffer from insomnia and we all experience shifting in our sleep at some point. Hammocks remove pressure from our bodies and essentially allow us to rest in a natural way without restrictions, while also giving our brains blood flow by elevating our head. This is why millions in other cultures treat their bodies to the restful sleep hammocks provide.
Nylon hammocks provide a soft and even surface as opposed to netted hammocks which leave you looking like a waffle after use and don't give your body the same support. The use of nylon hammocks indoors and outdoors supports healthy and restful sleep year round.
Try a Live Infinitely Double Hammock & an Indoor Hammock Hanging Kit to start giving your body a healthy a rejuvenating nights sleep! You'll love it!