Throw away your mattress! Toss a match on it and watch how fast it burns. A few months ago some neighborhood kids lit some mattresses on fire in my alley. Within seconds the whole place was ablaze. Mattress don’t just store all your dead skin cells and microscopic parasites and bedbugs. They are a wonderful fire waiting to happen.
So how have we gone from thousands of years of swinging in nets (hamacas) and laying on rice straw mats (tatami) to demanding Tempur-Pedic mattresses because you just can’t sleep on anything else?
Well, imagine there was an invention that could put you to sleep faster, send you to deeper sleeper for even longer than anything you’ve come across yet. Ah yes, you’ve already put it together. The formidable hammock can and does all of those things.
Hammocks aren’t just for swinging about on a lazy summer day. They aren’t reserved for two palm trees and the azul ocean calendar shot. For over a year I slept exclusively in a hammock. First, out of curiosity. Then, out of the benefits I was experiencing. After additional research and experimentation, I decided it should be considered a serious sleep option. So every place I’ve lived since then I’ve made sure to have the necessary hooks and anchors in the walls for just the occasion.
The Seven Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock
1. Faster sleep. Verily, it changed the way I approach bedtime. Lying in a hammock has a natural rhythm to it. This rhythm promotes relaxation in a way that even science struggles to keep up with. The result of being wrapped up in a tight blanket is reminiscent of the womb, or so they say. And Freud would agree that is something we all desire. Hmmm…. Either way, I can attest that sleeping in a hammock caused me to develop this talent of falling asleep the moment I lay down. Even when I sleep on a mattress now, I zonk almost immediately.
2. Zero-Pressure Points
So when you sleep on the ground, every contact point shoots discomfort signals to your brain where they light up your neuromatrix and remind you that this jazz isn’t comfortable. So you toss and turn. And you’re never comfortable. Sure, a tempur-pedic mattress will alleviate this a bit, but guess what sleeping environment provides a zero-pressure point environment. Did you guess yet?
Hammock sleeping means no tossing and turning. Believe it.
3. Deeper Sleep
Okay, so you’re falling asleep faster and you’re not tossing and turning. So what can be better than that? Well, deeper sleep of course! Studies have shown that the rocking may help synchronize brain activity and encourage N2 sleep, which apparently is a big deal. So you’re getting more actual rest. And that means waking up feeling more refreshed. My own experience was after 7 hours of sleep I’d have all this energy and want to actually get up and hit the day.
4. No More Bed Making
Toss out those fitted sheets ’cause you won’t be needing them where we’re going. Making your bed will never be so easy. At one apartment I had I couldn’t justify anchoring bolts into the walls, so I had a free standing hammock stand. It was about 2 minutes of set up and tear down every night. That was enough for me to never go that route again. Now, all I have to do is un-hook the hammock and fold it into the corner. And even then, it’s just as easy to leave up if you have a good spot for it. You can wash the hammock every week or two when you do laundry and you always have a clean bed. For cold nights, wrap up in a blanket first, then lay in the hammock.
5. Hammocks Are Good for Your Health
If you’re sleeping well, you’re living well. I’m fascinated by sleep experiments, so I’m almost always willing to take a plunge on something. In this case, the hammock life has shown me health benefits, and who can hate on that? Hospital beds are designed to lay the patient down on their back, with the head slightly elevated. This gives the brain optimal blood circulation rather than congestion and encourages less obstructed breathing. Interestingly enough, this is the same position that hammocks provide. If you have bad joints, a bad back, or really any body pains at all, hammocks come widely recommended.
When done correctly, sleeping in a hammock will be some of the most comfortable moments of your life. The right sized hammock, the correct hanging angles, and the right style are critical. It may seem overwhelming, but surprisingly it’s quite easy. You have to play with adjustments a bit in the beginning, but now I can get comfortable in just about any hammock. Check out this piece on how to maximize comfort in a hammock. Lay across the center line, as in a diagonal. You can even lay on your stomach like this. You also won’t feel as cocooned this way. I highly recommend getting a tightly woven fabric hammock. The ones that look like a net will leave your skin looking waffle-pressed and not many folks desire that look. Also, go with a Mayan style hammock without the wooden poles at the end. They end up stretching out the hammock and undoing all the great benefits in the first place. You want to have your hammock envelop you. Remember: like a womb.
7. Making Love in a Hammock
Okay, technically not sleeping, but let’s toss it in the list anyhow. If you’re lucky enough to call your hammock your bed, you’re lucky enough. That said, there’s a lot of potential for humor here, so please remember to share any embarrassing stories you may have. Even Thomas Edison saw the potential for disaster on this one. The Mayans basically lived in their hammocks, and you can guarantee they didn’t survive for thousands of years and have one of the greatest human civilizations because they weren’t procreating. So go explore sex in a hammock. For the Mayans.