Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by Louise Carter
Commonly regarded as a temporary solution for napping outside, hammocks can be comfortable for overnight sleep if you adopt the right position.
You may even consider permanently transitioning from a bed to an indoor hammock.
The best way to sleep in a hammock is to lay at a diagonal angle, evenly distributing your weight. This prevents the hammock from sagging in the middle in a C-shape and keeps pressure off the back.
Sleeping in a hammock may relieve chronic back pain caused by a bad mattress, and the gentle swaying of a hammock can help you drop off to sleep faster.
The enforced elevation of a hammock can also improve blood circulation.
If you plan to sleep in a hammock, ensure it’s securely fastened and protect yourself from injury if you fall out while rolling over. You’ll also need a quality pillow to avoid stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
Can You Sleep Overnight in a Hammock?
While many people associate hammocks with naps, there’s no reason you can’t sleep an entire night in a hammock. Ensure the hammock is securely attached, and take steps to stay safe.
Hammocks are available in various materials, mainly nylon, rope, and netting. Ensure you have a comfortable pillow and enough warm bedding to retain heat.
Nylon hammocks are recommended if you plan to sleep an entire night in this suspended state. Rope and net-based hammocks are still comfortable but are more suitable for short bursts of relaxation.
Are Hammocks Good for Your Back?
If you adopt the right sleeping position for a hammock, you may find it resolves pre-existing back pain.
Traditional mattresses are designed with pressure points in mind, spreading weight evenly around the body. The shoulders, buttocks, and spine bear the brunt of your weight when sleeping in a bed.
If you have a quality mattress, you should find that these pressure points are well-balanced. Cheaper and older mattresses can strain the back, leading to stiffness and discomfort.
This sleeping solution has no pressure points, which means you’ll adopt a natural sleeping position with no burden placed on one part of the body over another.
What is the Best Position to Sleep in a Hammock?
While sleeping in a hammock can be more comfortable and beneficial than a bed under the right circumstances, you must adopt the right posture to benefit from resting this way.
The best position for sleeping in a hammock is to lie diagonally, with your head and feet at opposite angles. This will prevent the hammock from sagging in the middle and balance your weight evenly.
You can take the supine posture or sleep on your side – whichever makes you most comfortable. Ensure your head and neck are elevated by a pillow, and pad your hammock with blankets.
You may also wish to elevate your knees while sleeping in a hammock.
Use a rolled-up towel or spare pillow for this. Sleeping with elevated knees will reduce pressure further on your lower back, enhancing your chances of feeling nimble and flexible upon waking.
Is It Healthy to Sleep in A Hammock Every Night?
Many cultures in South and Central America consider hammocks preferable to a bed. You could choose this lifestyle if you find a hammock more comfortable than a mattress and sleep better this way.
If you want to transition from sleeping in a bed to a hammock, consult a doctor or chiropractor to check that your joints and spine won’t suffer from this transition.
Pros and Cons of Sleeping in A Hammock Instead of A Bed
If you’re comfortable sleeping in bed, there’s no reason to consider trading a mattress for a hammock. Switching to a hammock may be beneficial if you’re prone to insomnia or broken sleep.
Advantages of Sleeping in a Hammock
Sleeping in a hammock could be ideal for anybody with back pain caused by a substandard mattress. Making a hammock your main sleeping location has other benefits, including the following:
Falling Asleep Faster
The main benefit of sleeping in a hammock is falling asleep sooner. Current Biology explains how gentle swaying can ease us from wakefulness to sleep, akin to rocking an infant in a cradle.
A hammock could be ideal for anybody who struggles to fall asleep after climbing into bed.
You’ll still need to practice sleep hygiene to bolster your chances of falling asleep quickly, but the swaying provided by a hammock can be beneficial.
A hammock isn’t a cure-all for insomnia. For example, if you’ve consumed excessive caffeine in a coffee or energy drink, the rocking motion of a hammock will only be so effective.
While a hammock may promote physical relaxation, it won’t calm a racing mind. If stress and anxiety keep you up at night, address these concerns before getting in a hammock to sleep better.
Sleep comprises 4 stages, which we cycle through several times, whether sleeping for 7-8 hours or just taking an afternoon nap to stave off exhaustion.
|Body temperature lowers, and the heart slows down, transitioning from wakefulness to sleep.
|Body temperature lowers, and the heart slows down, transitioning from wakefulness to sleep.
|The body and mind enter a deep, dreamless sleep, with the muscles repairing themselves.
|REM sleep is the point at which we dream. Reaching this sleep stage is essential for mental health, so stages 2 and 3 must be completed.
The gentle rocking of a hammock elongates stage 2 of the sleep cycle, meaning you’ll be prepared to fall into a deep and restful sleep and become likelier to complete an entire sleep cycle.
This data is drawn from the same study, so it focused on naps rather than a whole night’s sleep. However, a hammock is good for people who practice segmented sleep in 8-hour sleeping blocks.
The posture adopted by sleeping in a hammock – with your body angled and head elevated – will naturally increase and improve blood circulation around the body.
This will speed up the healing of damaged muscle tissue and promote healthy internal organs. This is especially beneficial to heart health.
As per Nature, sleeping well and encouraging positive blood circulation can maintain cardiovascular performance, reducing the risk of inflammation and the onset of atherosclerosis.
Lower Risk of Mites and Bed Bugs
Dust mites of bed bugs can make sleeping on a mattress untenable, and removing all traces of these pests from your sleeping space can be time-consuming and expensive.
An indoor hammock is less likely to attract bugs and parasites.
A hammock will be suspended above the ground, making it hard for bugs to reach. Mites and bed bugs can’t fly, so they can’t access a hammock without the ability to scale the sides of a bed.
Hammocks are also much easier to clean, eliminating pests upon arrival. Unlike a bed, which must be laundered regularly, you can practice daily cleaning of a hammock with a spray solution.
Disadvantages of Sleeping in a Hammock
Before permanently trading your bed for a hammock, understand the hazards. If you have any reason to believe these issues will be at play, continue using a bed.
Hammocks Must be Affixed Safely
Follow manufacturer instructions relating to hammock set-up to the letter.
If you enter “hammock injury” into Google, you’ll find a lengthy list of reports surrounding injuries caused by inappropriately secured hammocks.
If you sleep in a hammock indoors, you’ll enjoy greater safety than an equivalent product used outside and affixed to trees. All the same, ensure the hammock is safely secured.
Confirm that any walls or pillars you have affixed a hammock to can bear your weight for a prolonged time with weighted objects before climbing in and attempting to sleep.
Check the straps of fixings of a hammock, ensuring they aren’t slipping over time. Wear and tear through prolonged hammock use can weaken the material, so you may need to replace these fixings.
You May Fall Out
Hammocks are considerably narrower than single or double mattresses, so the likelihood of falling out is elevated if you’re prone to tossing and turning in your sleep.
A hammock should be hung high enough to gain the benefits of sleeping there but not so high that rolling over will leave you facing a fall from height.
Most industry experts recommend a height of around 18 inches from the ground.
This is lower than the average bed, which will measure around 25 inches, but still high enough to enjoy the benefits of sleeping in a hammock that we previously discussed.
Getting in and out of a hammock suspended from this height will be easier. Protect yourself from prospective injury in case you fall from your hammock.
Consider laying a mattress below the hammock in case the worst happens, or at least hang your hammock in a room with thick carpeting that’ll cushion your fall.
Neck and Shoulder Stiffness
While sleeping in a hammock can reduce back pain, it could cause muscular stiffness in other body parts. Ensure the hammock is appropriate for your height to alleviate knee pressure.
Neck and shoulder pain is a side effect of sleeping in a hammock if you don’t use the right pillow.
Clinical Biomechanics explains that the shape and height are more important than the material used to fill the pillow, so keep your neck 4–6 inches above the body.
A latex pillow will provide better support than a pillow stuffed with feathers.
Sleeping in a hammock isn’t for everybody, but a quality hammock fixed appropriately can relieve back pain and encourage the transition from waking to sleep.
The gentle rocking of a hammock may be the perfect tonic for someone who struggles with sleep.