Humans have been sleeping in hammocks for centuries, from the ancient Mayans to modern campers and sailors. Many people prefer hammocks to beds, preferring how they save floor space and provide a comfortable nights' sleep. But are hammocks actually better than beds?
Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock
There is increasing evidence that sleeping in a hammock provides some unique benefits for healthy sleep, many of which may surprise you. Here are some of the best reasons for sleeping in a hammock.
Hammocks promote sleeping on your back with the head at an inclined position
Most researchers and physicians recommend that a person sleep on their back, with their head at a 10-30 degree angle above the heart. This position reduces pressure on the back, improves blood flow to the brain, and promotes healthy respiration when sleeping. A properly hung hammock naturally promotes this healthy sleeping posture.
Hammocks eliminate uncomfortable pressure points
A hammock distributes pressure evenly across your whole body, unlike mattresses that can generate pressure points. For people prone to stiff or sore muscles, alleviating these pressure points can help create more relaxing, comfortable sleep.
Rocking motion of a hammock helps you fall asleep faster
While we intuitively rock babies to sleep, the same mechanism also works for adults. Studies show that the gentle rocking motion of a hammock helps people fall asleep faster, and that hammocks can help people with insomnia get the sleep they need.
Hammocks promote deeper sleep
While hammocks help people fall asleep faster, they also promote deeper, healthier sleep. Sleeping in a hammock increases the duration of non-REM sleep, crucial to physical rest and recuperation, as well as boosting sleep-related brain oscillations related to deep sleep, memory, and learning. Studies show that hammocks help people have deeper, more restful, healthier sleep.
Beds can harbor mites or allergens
On a purely practical level, mattresses can be a source of irritants, particularly for those with allergies or sensitivities. Over time, our mattresses accumulate dead skin cells, sweat, and humidity that make them a perfect breeding ground for dust mites. While dust mites are harmless for most people, the light weight, air circulation, and simple cleaning of a hammock make them much less likely to become a home for unwanted night-time guests.
Hammocks save space
Some people prefer hammocks simply because they don't have much living space, and want the flexibility to quickly create more living space on demand, rather than having the room be dominated by a bed.
Hammocks offer outdoor protection
For campers, of course, hammocks have the natural advantage of elevating you off the ground while you sleep, offering greater protection from insects, snakes, and other wildlife that may find its way into a tent.
Benefits of Sleeping in a Bed
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why people might prefer a hammock, particularly if they have health conditions or concerns that may be addressed by sleeping in a hammock. However, there are still good reasons to have a bed.
Beds are easier to use year-round
While there is additional equipment that hammock sleepers can use to stay warm in cold weather, the fact is that hammocks are more difficult to insulate against the cold. Even when using a hammock indoors, the nylon fabric doesn't offer much protection against cold weather, and can be more difficult to sleep comfortably in all year long, particularly if you are temperature sensitive when sleeping.
Beds have better storage options
If you need additional storage space, you have lots of options for beds, headstands, and nightstands with drawers, cupboards, bins, and other ways to store your belongings. Whether you need under-bed storage for seasonal clothing, linens, or home décor items, or need a nightstand for lighting, charging your devices, a glass of water, holding jewelry, storing your bedtime reading, and other needs, beds are simply easier to accessorize and use for storage.
Beds are better for sharing
Even an extra-large hammock is simply not as easy to share with someone else as a bed is. And, while a cuddly couple may want to sleep against each other sometimes, they may not want to sleep tangled up close all night every night.
In other words, there are a lot of situations where yes, hammocks are better than beds. And some situations where they aren't. Sleep is intimate and personal, and everyone has different needs. However, if you have insomnia or back pain, or are simply looking for a fast and easy way to save space in the home, a hammock may be the perfect solution for you.