Why Sleeping In A Hammock Is Good For You

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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_indoorsexactly 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 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.

 

2017-01-09T13:53:13+00:00 By |

About the Author:

Over a decade ago I started a small business with the goal of making the world a better place one hammock at a time. Thanks for reading and being part of this incredible community - never stop paying it forward.
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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…

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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 

  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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  • David Alexander

    did you end up sticking with this Eric?

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  • Mr. Roach

    I’ve been sleeping in a hammock for a solid month now. Let me tell you; I sleep awesome. I love it. I don’t think I’m going back to a bed now. In fact, I’ve given my bed away.

  • Love to hear it – keep spreading the word!

  • Mr. Roach

    I will! I’m out like a light and don’t move at all. I’ve been sleeping wrong my entire life!

  • Randy Clark

    I keep hearing about drywall issues and breaking 4 x 4’s and on and on… but I’ve searched and searched for actual incidents and nobody can show any evidence that this has happened. But my OCD keeps me from bolting my eagle’s nest hammock lugs to the wall in my apartment for fear of bringing down the wall. Any advice? I have a 14′ by 10′ hammock, rope extra thick, and I’m 6’7″ and 260lbs. Thanks.

  • Hi Randy – I understand your fear, and it’s a good thing to be concerned with! The best thing I can say is that every home construction is honestly different so if you’re not sure it would be worth it to have someone look at it that understands exactly what’s behind your wall/ceiling and whether it’s strong enough to support you without issue. Walls can be patched and painted fairly easily so it’s not the end of the world to cut a hole so you can investigate and then patch it back up – but if you’re renting your apartment that may not be the case. If nothing else, a hammock stand like the one we sell is a great alternative to get a hammock setup indoors without the work and worry.

  • Matt Jarvis

    You could also use a hammock stand.

  • Mr. Roach

    This is my new hammock. I feel like a new man, as well! I love it, and so do my cats. No more beds for me.

  • Glad you found something that works for you – thanks for sharing!

  • 24jerome42

    I slept in a hammock during my two year Peace Corps experience in Colombia. In your articles, I have not seen a clear description of the “proper” position in which to sleep in a hammock. It is NOT in the center parallel to the center line of the hammock. Rather, it is at a diagonal. This allows the body to remain straight rather than bent to conform to the arc of tha hammock. Envision a forearm in a sling. Same idea.

    Jerry Parker
    Olympia WA

  • Hey Jerry – You’re absolutely right about the hammock angle and it sounds like you may have missed this article on our site – it’s one of the most trafficked pages on our entire blog! http://www.treklightgear.com/treklife/hammock-angle/

  • 24jerome42

    Seth – I found the page you reference AFTER I sent my comment. You are correct and I am chagrined!
    Jerry Parker

  • No worries Jerry – thanks for reading and sharing your knowledge, it’s what makes the Trek Light community what it is!

  • Willa Cain

    Hey Hey, Im so psyched i found Seth Haber’s article on Why sleeping in a hammock is good for you. I bought a double hammock 4 months ago and have been having great nights of sleep however, some nights i dont and was wondering if it mattered on how high you hang it and how far apart so that it is comfortable. I have slept in my hammock many nights with it tooo tight and my shoulders were killing me. Now that I found this great article i realize how to sleep in it, the angle, so that it’s comfortable. I was getting ready to return it. I borrowed a friend’s stationary one with the bars and have only slept in it twice and it totally sucks. Yippee, cant wait to loosen up my hammock and turn feet to one side and head to the other. I actually slept like that a bunch of nights but was not aware that that was why i was comfortable I went back to sleeping in my sleigh bed for 10 nights and my back and neck were so stiff so i am totally pumped to get back to the hammonck. I hung my hammock it in my cabin about 4 feet from my wood burning stove and LOVE it. Any hey, thanks again for giving me my SLEEP back and i recommend eveyone sleep in a hammock. Anyone know if there is any type of stationary stand for the hammock so when i go away or stay elsewhere i can take my hammock?? Thanks!! To Life sleeping in a hammock!!!!! Thanks Seth, you rock!!

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  • Hi Willa – Happy to hear that you’ve been sleeping great in your hammock! We carry a hammock stand on our website here if you want to check it out: https://www.treklightgear.com/hammock-stand.html

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  • Edwin North

    gotta ask.. sex?

  • I appreciate the offer Edwin, but I’m taken. 🙂

    Two words for you to google: Hammock Sutra

    There’s an entire NSFW illustrated guide to help walk you through your many options.