Seven Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock

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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.


6. Comfort

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.



86 Responses

  1. You know what # I like… But still have yet to try it! :)

    No but I will say it really does make sleeping much more sound and peaceful.

    Let’s sleep in it tonight! :)

  2. So #7 sounds good in theory. But can two people actually sleep comfortably in a hammock? It seems you’d constantly be rolling into each other to the point where personal space would become an issue. I guess it’s good for snuggling and such, but for actual sleep I don’t know.

    • Russ, that’s the strange beauty of the hammock. You don’t end up tossing and turning. You only do that in a bed because your body gets sore from pressure points. If you don’t toss and turn, you can comfortably lay in one position. As for sharing a hammock, you give up your personal space for warmth and fun. Sacrifices, sacrifices.

      • My housemate slept in a hammock for awhile and had incredible back pains. laying down in a hammock curves your back in a way its not supposed to, thats why we sleep on mattresses

        • That really doesn’t make sense, I’ve laid in one for hours with no ill effects. More than likely your housemate had the hammock in a bad position, or perhaps their body is not suited to it…still, hammocks have been used successfully for sleep by humans since before recorded time, so this really just doesn’t add up

        • I also disagree, I currently sleep in a hammock everynight and it actually does wonders for my back and for my sleep. Your friend probably has a preexisting back alement beause if you’re using it correctly it’s actually supposed to alleviate back pain not make it worse.

        • If sleeping in a hammock was causing back pain, it was not adjusted any where near correctly.

  3. Sleeping in a hammock won me some points with my friends father a couple years back. We were up in Tennessee for my friend Jimmy’s wedding. The day before we all went to his brother Ben’s house for lunch.

    After a delicious meal and several beers I was a bit groggy and decided I would lay down in the hammock strung up in the backyard while I have one last beer. The nap was accomplished much sooner than the completion of the beer.

    Eventually my friends realized where I was. Since the cooler was now short the majority of beer they decided it was a good idea to toss the icy water on me to wake me up. Jimmy’s father was amazed that being startled awake in that manner didn’t leave me flat on the ground, but that I also managed to keep my beer upright while I steadied myself in the hammock.

    After reading this I think I’ll make a trip to the hardware store to pick up some bolts so I can string my hammock up in my room. Might as well use it for more than camping.

    • With a history like that, you ought to have a constant supply of beer in your room and of course, a hammock.

  4. Yes!! Not only did you make me completely disgusted to go back in my bed, but I now have good reason to make that deep rooted desire of getting a hammock come true!

    But to everyone else’s question have you slept 2 people in a hammock? I imagine that gets pretty tricky.

    Also a huge space saver. Ugh I so want a hammock now.

    • Two is nothing. Try three or four. That’s where things get interesting…

    • If the hammock is sized properly, two people in a hammock is not that bad. The only two issues are heat and closeness. As long as you can sleep while cuddled up nice and tight with someone and the added heat from their body warmth does not bother you then you will be fine.

  5. Cheers to the Mayans my friend! I love the idea of sleeping in a hammock. I think for my current living situation the hammock may have to go on the porch, but I will work on some persuasion with the wife.

    • Matt, I expect you can charm a hammock into your life. For the marriage! For the Mayans!

  6. Alright so now I really want a hammock for sleeping. But the whole time I was reading I was thinking “But what about sex?” And then you got to it! I am curious about how that works…not the sex part BTW :-) It seems that would require some pretty strong bolts…and you better make sure it is anchored in a stud!

    • Liane, I’m sure you can get creative… :)

      Of course, the anchors and studs are always critical. You want to be able to swing with ease and peace of mind!

    • Its actually not as difficult as it sounds

  7. Jackie Rose (@letssitoutside)

    For myself: I’ve taken lovely naps in hammocks. They are wonderful if done right, as you said. The strength of fabric holding me up combined with the gentile sway of life-motion is sublime. I don’t own one though as the past three places I’ve lived came furnished with beds, and I was only passing through for a few months so it didn’t feel worthwhile to change things around. That’s an excuse haha… I’ll consider a hammock for when I move to Boston in a few weeks :)

    About sex: An x-bf of mine slept in a hammock. We cuddled comfortably in it but always moved to a bed on the floor when things heated up. We were young and not so aware of our freedom, thinking sex was supposed to happen in a bed. Unfortunate, no? I’m happy to say my sex is no longer confined to a bed and think the closeness of a hammock could really add to the coupling experience. I’ll let you know how things go if I get one in Boston…

    Thanks for a great post! Hope you are well!

  8. […] back to our Sleeping In A Hammock guide for more info – thanks!), so make sure you read his full post but I’ve included each of the talking points to the […]

  9. Friday Links – December 2, 2011 Edition | Freeing Truth

    […] Finally, while I’m not entirely convinced, I have to admit that David over at Almost Bohemian has a thoroughly entertaining look at the benefits of giving up a traditional bed for a hammock. […]

  10. Annie Andre

    Is this your only mode of slumber?

    I suppose if sailors can sleep on hammocks on a ship than it must be ok.
    Plus, I’ll anything if i don’t have to make a bed again…

  11. Coolness…and you were going to leave this space?…Why?

  12. Sleeping in a hammock is the best! I’ve slept in one for 15 months and will never go back to a bed. All my friends complain that they have trouble falling asleep or that they keep waking up in the middle of the night. That’s never a problem for me. As soon as I am in my hammock I fall right to sleep. My back feels so much better in the morning. Everything you said is so true.

  13. Thank God Its Friday Resources Mashup #10 | Between the Temples

    […] Seven Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock – Even though I am attached to my Select Comfort bed, I may have to try this. […]

  14. Little Miss

    Very interesting… My concern would be in finding one rated strong enough for my husband, nearly 220lbs plus my weight of 120lbs… It seems I’ve seen that the hammocks themselves have weight limits right? Then add in any extra movement with the afore mentioned expiramentation… Crash landing would not be a good thing at the wrong time! 😀 Probably not good at any time! My other thought- forced to cuddle- even after arguing and maybe I’d not get so cold… Interesting…

    • Forced cuddling! Could be good, or could be awful! As for the weight limits, just get some strong anchors and make sure you hit that stud. The hammock itself should be plenty strong.

  15. My trek light double hammock says it can hold up to 400 lbs and weighs 20 oz. It is made of parachute material and designed not to flip. I love it.

  16. hey david! you’ve had me thinking about hammocks for a long time. but now that i am looking for a better sleep situation for my girls 5 and 2 i’m wondering if i can set them each up with a hammock! i’m considering making them myself….and i’m considering using bamboo material (which is similar to a stretchy cotton)but i’m wondering how much it stretch it should have. anyhow…i heard you will be heading to chicago soon. plan on visiting us!

    • Ramona, I’m sorry I missed you! I admire that you’re entertaining alternative sleeping arrangements for your two little angels. I have a feeling you may come up with some creative ideas. Keep me posted if you make some great discoveries! I’d love to share them here!

  17. I’ve slept in a hammock once before (one of my friends had one instead of a couch) and I remember waking up the next morning feeling very surprisingly refreshed! Her cat also slept with me, so clearly it’s comfortable enough for the cat. I forgot about that experience until I read this post.

    I’m curious how hammock works when more than one person is sleeping in it.

  18. […] pressure points means that you don’t toss and turn in a hammock. This is also helpful for those who suffer […]

  19. I’ve been thinking about switching over to a hammock, but I’m not sure which one to buy. There’s so many options! Where did you get yours?

    • Emily, I’m quite late here, but there are some good links in this thread. I don’t have any specific to recommend, but Charlie in the comments down here has some good links…

  20. […] you to replace your bed with a hammock, but David William’s ‘Almost Bohemian’Seven Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock gives you a good number of reasons to seriously consider it. I’ll include other links with […]

  21. I’ve had my hammock in my living room for about 6 months now and let me tell you, it is amazing. I love the look on peoples faces when they come over and see me suspended in the air. Half the time people don’t even notice I’m there.

    As far as sleeping 2 to a hammock, it does work. In fact, my hammock has brought more luck to me than anything. You do have to get a double though. Mine is weighted up to 400lbs, so I’ve never had a problem even coming close to that. And the best is when I tell a girl it can accommodate 2 and she doesn’t believe me. Of course I make a bet out of it, and more often than not we end up sleeping there. Its actually quite simple to do. I usually lay on my back while she is on her side one leg straight, the other over me. No real tossing or turning occurs, maybe every now and then we will switch positions. And I’ve found that if either person slips an arm under the lower back, not only is it more comfortable, but it doesn’t fall asleep the way that it would on a mattress.

    Well, that’s my advice. It does work. It is fun. I have converted many of my friends to hammocks over the past few months and they thank me for it all the time.

  22. I should also add that my hammock is red with white trim, the whiteboard on the edges. My one rule to people is, stay between the white and you’ll be alright. Making love is a trick, but not impossible. Its actually quite fun, and with the swinging, makes it interesting.

    Love making tip (gonna try to not be too specific so use your imagination, lol) but it involves me sitting sideways with my feet on the wall, and the lucky lady is on top facing me. I use my feet to push off the wall to give some motion and……. well you can figure out the rest.

    Its definitely fun and not for the feint of hearts, so go at it with caution. Have fun with it, it’ll be the best thing. And something she is sure to never forget.

  23. I almost always slept in a hammock while in Vietnam as a combat infantryman. Every now and then, suitable trees were not available. It was great. Upon returning to the states, used a hammock for camping but pretty much returned to a regular bed. As far as the lovemaking issue, I tried it once with an adventurous girlfriend who was up for just about anything. (As an aside, if you are wondering about golf greens, they look good, but the reality is the grass is scratchy, there are bugs and the sprinkler system can go off at any time.) Back to the hammock! We were not able to find a suitable way in the conventional fashion, but slinging the hammock at waist height, she was able to lean forward with her upper body in the hammock and both feet on the ground. I guess you can take it from there. Love my hammock. You will sleep like a fat man in a donut shop!

    • Phil, these are good problems to tackle. And it sounds like you’ve had some pretty interesting history with hammock use. Vietnam?

      Whew! I am thankful my intro was pure leisure. Thanks for the comment!

  24. Thanks for spreading the word… I love my hammock. One tip though, I had a bit of trouble with the blankets and what I ended up doing was take two very big safety pins –okay technically they were stitch holders– and then using them to fasten two cross corners (the one at the head and the one at the feet). That way all I have to do to get in and out is hold the opposite corner from the feet, lie down across the stretched blankets and wrap myself in. Since the blankets stay in their place all night this makes it that much easier to get in and out.

    • Clea, I’m a fan of the taco wrap pre lay down. That should be a proper phrase. But your technique seems a bit more calculated. Good advice!

      • I guess it is a matter of preference, but now I think I’ve found a good compromise: I modified a blanket to suit my needs so that it moves with me and leaves my hands free. If anyone is interested I posted a how-to in my blog (