Is A Hammock Better Than A Bed? The (Back Busting) Truth

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Do you have trouble sleeping? Or do you wake up in the morning with aches and pains that take some time to go away?

Maybe you are considering making a dramatic switch in your sleeping arrangements and ditching the traditional bed for a hammock.

Is a hammock better than a bed? Will you sleep better? Is it better for your back?

We are going to examine all of these questions and more in our blog today.

So let’s get started…

The question of whether a hammock is better than a bed is purely subjective, but many long-term hammock sleepers say they experience a number of benefits when compared to sleeping in a bed. Notably, hammocks help with back pain, help you get to sleep more quickly and help you sleep more deeply. In fact, scientists say you get the ‘ideal’ sleep position in a hammock.

Humans have been sleeping on hammocks for hundreds of years.

In fact, the hammock was around way before the traditional bed was.

Even today it is estimated in excess of 100 million people use hammocks to sleep in. They are still particularly popular in Central and South America and parts of Asia.

But the question remains, is a hammock better than a bed?

Why Hammocks Are Better Than Beds: 4 Main Reasons

Let’s put a disclaimer out there first of all, this is purely subjective.

What could be great to one person might feel terrible to someone else!

It should also be noted that as most of us have slept our entire lives in normal beds, switching to a hammock might take some getting used to…

Nevertheless, there are some solid arguments as to why it is better to sleep in a hammock than a bed.

#1: Hammocks Can Help With Back Problems (And Other Pain)

There is a lot of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that hammocks are better for your back than beds.

A quick Google of the question will lead you to lots of accounts of people with back problems who have really benefitted from sleeping in a hammock:

“Been sleeping in a hammock full-time for a year-and-a-half now, best sleep of my life! I can’t go back to a bed. My back feels amazing every morning and I sleep soundly through the night. “

“This past weekend I spent my first full 8 hours sleeping in a hammock and woke up in the morning and the first thing that stood out to me was that when I got up I didn’t have any back pain and no issue with movement.”

“Lots of people here (including myself) have found a hammock better for a bad back. I broke my back in 2002 & had two surgeries. Others here have had broken backs & worse back problems (disks, etc).

“I have slept in a hammock instead of a bed almost every night for 3.5 years. I have never slept better, and experienced great relief from the back and neck troubles that i experienced for almost 30 years prior.”

One of the reasons for this is that hammocks force the user to sleep on their back.

It is this sleeping position that the majority of healthcare professionals that specialize in the back and spine suggest is the ideal way to sleep.

Additionally, when you sleep on a hammock the ideal sleeping position is on an angle across the center line.

This creates a flat surface along the body and spreads your weight out across your entire body so there are no pressure spots.

All in all, a hammock should help with back and neck pain.

#2: Hammocks Help You Fall Asleep More Easily and Sleep More Deeply

Person in hammock at dusk

Whilst scientific studies around the use of hammocks have been fairly limited, the data that is out there suggests that you can fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply in a hammock.

In a 2011 study, Swiss scientists asked 12 male volunteers to take two 45 minutes naps a day, one on a bed that remained stationary and the other on a bed that rocked.

The study found that “rocking accelerated sleep onset”, with the participants falling asleep more quickly on the rocking bed.

It also found that the rocking bed lengthened the stage of sleep where the brain is getting ready to transition into a deep sleep.

#3: Hammocks Help You Achieve the ‘Ideal’ Sleeping Position

According to Dr. Steven Park, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and a head and neck surgeon, the ideal sleeping position is on your back with your head elevated somewhere between 10 and 30 percent.

In addition, your legs should be slightly elevated too.

This position allows blood to circulate around the brain and the body optimally and places no restrictions on breathing.

It is also the exact position you lay in when in a hammock!

#4: The Swaying Motion of a Hammock Has Health Benefits

Blanket in hammock

As well as helping you to get to sleep more quickly, and sleep more deeply, the swaying motion of a hammock has been proven to have other health benefits.

It impacts the brain waves and can synchronize the hemispheres of the brain which leads to increased concentration and learning.

Hammocks are even used in some medical settings. For instance in Colombia specially-made hammocks are placed into the incubator to cradle premature babies and help them breathe.

Researchers say this rocking motion may also help with memory issues or healing after a brain injury.

In addition to these four reasons, there are a number of other benefits a hammock can provide over a bed:

  • In hot weather a bed can be uncomfortable to sleep in as the mattress provides unnecessary insulation underneath you. In a hammock you can sleep more comfortably in hot weather with nothing beneath you.
  • A good hammock can be expensive, but it will still be a lot cheaper than an average bed.
  • Hammocks can be unhooked and stored away when not in use to give you a lot more space.
  • Hammocks also tend to be cleaner, although this leans to another often-asked question about them…

Can Hammocks Have Bed Bugs?

The answer is yes, hammock can have bed bugs, but they are a lot cleaner and a lot less likely to become a breeding ground for things like bed bugs and dust mites, than a traditional bed.

Hammocks are easier to clean and by smearing petroleum jelly on the hammock ropes, between the wall hooks and the shroud lines, it will make it very difficult for any bugs to make their way onto your hammock.

In cold weather using a good quality sleeping bag will also protect you from bed bugs.

In short the probability of your hammock having bed bugs is low.

Final Thoughts

INFOGRAPHIC Answering the Question Is A Hammock Better Than A Bed
Click infographic to enlarge.

The answer to the question of whether it is better to sleep in a hammock or a bed is purely subjective, but there is no doubt that you could benefit in a number of ways from sleeping in a hammock.

The main plus points are:

  • It can help with neck and back pain.
  • It can help you fall asleep more easily.
  • It can help you sleep more deeply.
  • It can help you achieve the ‘ideal’ sleep position.

So are hammocks better than beds? Well you will really have to try both to make a decision, but if you are having trouble sleeping or finding yourself in discomfort after a night’s sleep it might be worth giving a hammock a go!

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