Whenever my husband and I go on a weekend hiking and camping trip with our buddy Ed, he opts to sleep in a hammock. We’re always struck by how comfortable he seems as he kicks his feet up and rolls himself up like a cocoon.
“Doesn’t that get old after a while?” we shout up at him. “No,” he says, “It’s actually really comfortable, and I prefer it to sleeping in a bed, even.”
Ed is not one to exaggerate, so we had to take his comment at face value. It got me wondering: Are there benefits to sleeping in a hammock? And why don’t we all sleep in hammocks more often? I dug a little deeper, and this is what I found.
A faster route to deeper sleep
According to researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, hammocks can help people fall asleep faster and achieve a deeper state of sleep.
Why is this? Deeper sleep is encouraged by the gentle rocking motion of hammocks. In the study, they noticed that adults who took a nap in a gently rocking bed fell asleep faster and achieved a deeper level of sleep than people who slept in a normal, stationary bed. When they asked the people in the study what they thought, “eight of the participants rated the rocking hammock-like bed as ‘more pleasant’ than the stationary bed.”
Not only did the gentle rocking of hammock beds make people fall asleep faster, but it also changed their brain waves while they slept, giving them longer REM sleep, more tranquil sleep, and, in waking, the enhanced ability to remember new information. According to NPR, this is associated with the brain’s ability to rewire itself, and it offers more brain elasticity.
So, now that we know sleeping in a hammock is not only amazing for sleep but also may be a boon to brain health, when should you sleep in a hammock? Should you sleep in one every night?
When and where to sleep in hammocks
Sure, you could sleep in a hammock every single night, especially if you love snuggling that close to your partner! Hammocks keep you cooler as you sleep and may even help alleviate back pain by removing the common pressure points of sleeping on a mattress. (A great benefit considering 54 percent of people blame their back problems, at least in part, on their mattresses.)
If you’re unsure about sleeping in a hammock every night, first try reading in one. Reading in a hammock is a lovely experience, especially since your head naturally rests higher than your body in it, making it the ideal reading environment. Just make sure you have a reading light to go with it!
Keep a hammock in the guest room as a fun way for guests to spend the night, or have one in the living room for those days when you just want to curl up and relax. On sunny summer days, you can take your hammock outside and close your eyes while listening to the birds chirp and the wind through the leaves.
Any way you go about it, spending time in a hammock is a truly relaxing way to take a nap. You’ll enjoy deeper, better sleep, and it might just be the solution for those who have a hard time falling asleep at night.
We have all the hammock options you need to relax outdoors—or indoors!