Why Sleeping In A Hammock Is Good For You

by Seth Haber | Founder, CEO

In January 2010, Janet Kinosian wrote an interesting article for the Huffington Post titled “What Your Sleep Position Says About You”.  Much of the article focused on costa rica indoors thumb Why Sleeping In A Hammock Is Good For Youexactly that, examining the link between personality traits and various sleep positions. For example, workaholic businessmen and entrepreneurs are apparently more likely to sleep on their backs (which, you’ll also learn, is called the royal position).  Sleep on your stomach? You, along with the author and Madonna, are likely very persistent and goal-oriented with some strong compulsive tendencies.  As with any study that attempts to tell you things about your personality, you’re either going to find the results spot-on or completely disagree – but what really caught my eye was this:

So what is considered the all-around healthiest sleep position?

Many doctors say it’s lying on one’s back, with the head slightly elevated, about 10 – 30 percent. This is postulated to give the brain optimal blood circulation rather than congestion and also allows for more un-obstructed breathing, says Dr. Steven Park, a head and neck surgeon and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. You see many native cultures sleeping this way, via hammock and other devices, rather than on flat surfaces as in the West.

Sleeping in a hammock rocks (pun not intended but I’m keeping it nonetheless).  It’s peaceful, relaxing and it feels great both when you fall asleep and when you wake up.  Keep in mind though that not every hammock is going to be comfortable to spend the night in, so if you’re going to try it for the first time make sure you have a hammock that is designed with a full night’s sleep in mind.  You shouldn’t have to worry about falling out of it in the middle of the night (Trek Light Hammocks have a No-Flip™ design) and you don’t want to wake up with a permanent rope tattoo from sleeping on knots or string (silky smooth parachute nylon is where it’s at!).

{ If you’ve never tried sleeping in a hammock before or if you’ve had a bad experience in the past, check out our blog series Sleeping In A Hammock: Your Complete Guide To Healthy Hammock Sleep.  Learn how to properly sleep in a hammock and how to avoid bad hammock experiences! }

It seems that the health benefits of hammocks are just beginning to be studied in depth and we’re really just scratching the surface. From the medical hammocks used in premature baby therapy to their application in the treatment of arthritis, acid reflux, sleep apnea, autism or simply to reduce stress and provide a healthier night sleep, it’s exciting to see science catching up with what native cultures (and hammock lovers across the world) have known for centuries.     The zero-pressure point ergonomics and the ability to slightly elevate your upper body are the keys to a healthy sleep that no flat surface or mattress can truly provide.  IMG 2750 thumb Why Sleeping In A Hammock Is Good For You It doesn’t mean you need to replace your bed with a hammock (although many of our customers have actually done just that).  But, if you’ve got a place at home to hang a hammock, I challenge you to think of it as more than just a place to spend a few minutes when you need to relax. Forget about those bad experiences you had falling asleep in rope hammocks and waking up with a waffle pattern on your face or a pain in your back. Get a quality hammock, learn how to sleep in it properly and take your next nap in it or try spending a full night in it if you never have before.  The health benefits of hammocks is a topic we’ll continue to explore in detail on the Trek Life blog and I hope you find it as fascinating as we do.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve already spent a full night in a Trek Light Hammock or any other hammock and if not, I encourage you to give it a try and let us know how it went! On a side note, if you’ve got the ability to hang a hammock in your home and you’re interested in trying a hammock sleep experiment and blogging about it,  please get in touch – I’d love to feature your experience on the blog.

UPDATES:  Since we first published this post there have been a lot more stories on hammock health in the news.  It’s extremely encouraging to see that the more hammocks get put under the microscope so to speak the more we keep learning about how incredibly healthy the hammock experience is.  Here are some links to more great articles and hammock sleep studies – we’ll continue to update this page as more studies come out:

NPR: Why Hammocks Make Sleep Easier, Deeper
WebMD: Gentle Rocking Helps You Fall Asleep Faster, Get Deeper Sleep
Current Biology: Rocking Synchronizes Brain Waves During A Short Nap
CNN: Hammocks Make For Deeper Sleep
Lifehacker: Want Better Naps? Sleep In A Hammock
Health.com: Study: Hammocks Make For Deeper Sleep
HealthGuidance.org:Improve Your Health With Hammocks

Check out our Hammock Health page for lots more on the health benefits of hammocks, and of course don’t forget to read our Sleeping In A Hammock Guide for the information you need to know to sleep in a hammock comfortably, whether for a short nap or as a full-time bed.

 

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  • Laurieleewalters

    I am so happy to hear I am not alone! I love sleeping in a hammock. I ordered a treklight hammock and I’m checking the mail everyday. I can’t wait to try it out. I sleep in a rope hammock with a speader bar. I can’t wait for the additional comfort of my new hammock. Of course my friends don’t understand why I sleep n a hammock. They have the hammock fear thing. It’s the only way I get a good night sleep. Thank you for the great article!
    Laurie Lee

  • Oleg

    awesome! I have been sleeping in a hammock since I started camping with those, they are so much more compact, plus I feel very refreshed when I wake up –a healthy full night sleep. My friends thought I was crazy, but now I got proof that it is good for you, Thanks guys. Keep up the good work…

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Thanks for saying hello, it’s great to hear from people who sleep in a hammock regularly!

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  • MK

    I have just recently converted my uncomfortable dorm room bed into a couch and built a stand over it for my hammock. Honestly I have not slept that well in a long time. Also, this article should be read by more people. It has very many truths in it.

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Thanks MK! Would love to see a picture of your new setup – you can share it on our Facebook page or just email it to us. Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luis-Ospina/1317458061 Luis Ospina

    Dear Trek Light Gear,

    I’ve been trying to sleep in hammock ever since I fell upon this article (two months ago) and I have not been successful. I have a double parachute hammock that is 6 feet in width and 8 feet in length. I had it hanging between two walls that are 10 feet and 7 inches apart. I tried different hanging lengths form really tight to lose and curvy. I have slept in the 45 degree angle and still nothing. My lower back feels a pinch after a while and if I fall asleep I wake up in the middle of the night. I can feel the benefits of sleeping in a hammock: Rocking, slightly elevated head, etc.  Which is why I persist with sleeping in a hammock. What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks
    Luis Ospina 

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Hi Luis – The only thing that I can think of is that you may be using a hammock that is too small for you to get completely comfortable. Our Double Hammocks are the best suited for sleeping and they’re 6.5′ wide and 10′ long. Those few extra feet definitely make a big difference when it comes to the amount of room you have in the hammock. You may think you’ve got enough room in your hammock and don’t need anything bigger (nobody’s 10′ tall after all) but everyone has a different ‘sweet spot’ when sleeping in the hammock and in my experience the more room you have the more options you have to get comfortable.

    It sounds like you’re experimenting with the right adjustments to find your sweet spot but you may just not be working with a big enough hammock. It’s certainly worth a try if you’ve tried everything else!

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  • Raven

    I’ve been using a hammock instead of a bed for 6+ years now and love it just as much as ever. It’s also one of the best inventions to take backpacking because it’s light and when I take mine I actually get a better night’s sleep than my fellow backpackers because while they sleep on the ground or on mats, I’m literally in my own bed that I’ve brought with me. I used to have really bad back problems from my mattress, but when I started sleeping in my hammock those dissapeared pretty quickly.
     I love my hammocks, and I challenge anyone who hasn’t slept in one for a few weeks to give it a go, it’s great for your back and it’s some of the best sleep you’ll ever experience.

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  • Guest

    Sleeping in a hammock has to be the most comftorable thing that I have ever done.  So many people argue that it is horrible for your back but that didn’t stop me.  I have and will, always love sleeping in hammocks.
    Go hammock sleepers!

  • TrailGear

    I have some heath issues … a bad knee and hip. When I slept in a bed I always tossed and turned because of the pressure points ( I’m a side sleeper in bed) and constantly woke up with each turn. I discovered sleeping in a hammock a few years ago and have never slept in a bed since. Hammocks provide the best sleep I have ever had. I sleep in a Byer Moskito Traveller Hammock (bug net on the bottom). It’s a Brazilian style nylon hammock with no seams. When you sleep on a 45 degree angle it causes the hammock to flatten out almost like a bed. There are no pressure points and I sleep on my back through the night and wake up totally refreshed. Hammock sleeping was the cure to my sleepless nights !!!

    J. Falk
    http://www.TrailGear.org

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  • http://www.facebook.com/david.roger.bc David Roger Brett

    All of your “studies” are articles about the same study. none of them address the stress on your back (whether its better or worse than a mattress) or the different shapes of hammock. A rocking motion seems to help but it is only one aspect of sleeping on a hammock. I recommend getting more insight before endorsing hammocks fully.

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Hi David – The links at the bottom are all referencing the same study on the positive effects of rocking yourself to sleep, but the original post was in reference to a sleep study which looked into what the ‘best’ sleep position was. The conclusion from the study was that the body position achieved in a hammock (lying on one’s back, with the head slightly elevated, about 10 – 30 percent) is a healthier sleep position than being on a flat surface (ie. a mattress).

    The combination of having one of the healthiest sleep positions along with the rocking motion effect likely explains a lot about why hammock sleep feels so good and rejuvenating, but I agree that there are always plenty of other factors to look at. Hopefully we’ll continue to see hammock sleep studied in even more detail in the days to come and learn more about the reasons behind that great feeling so many have described in the comments on this post.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=118501661 Eric Charles

    So based on a lot of research, including reading most of this blog I’ve bought a hammock to replace my bed,and a stand for my apartment. I slept in it last night and now I have two questions: First, I had just a little bit of soreness in my shoulder, nothing bad just the soreness you get from sleeping on something the wrong way, any ideas why this could be? Also I am wondering if you need a pillow,or if the hammock’s angle and give are suppose to take the place of a pillow? I noticed last night that the large pillows I use on a bed create a soft side bar, but had some luck with some flatter, older pillows.

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Trek Light Gear

    Hi Eric – Glad to hear you’ve made the switch! As for the shoulder soreness, it’s most likely the result of the transition – your body has been used to sleeping on a bed and many people experience a slight adjustment period when spending a full night in a hammock. When I spend my first night in a hammock after sleeping in a bed for a while I sometimes experience the same thing as my body adjusts, it’s usually gone by the next night for me.

    The pillow question is often a matter of personal preference. Many people find that the hammock eliminates the need for a pillow – your head rests in a natural position as the material conforms to your body. But I find that having a small, thin pillow in the hammock with me is helpful – sometimes I use it and sometimes I don’t, but just having it near my head is sometimes all I need!

    Thanks for reading and keep in touch to let us all know how everything goes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=118501661 Eric Charles

    You are spot on about the shoulder, thank you.

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  • Hudson

    I have slept in a hammock the majority of my life. In college, I have lofted my bed and tied a hammock underneath. The only problems I could see arising are back problems, but my back is not bad. I grew up in a small house in Brazil, and a hammock made more sense than a bed. In the US I still dont see why I need one.

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