The Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock

July 22, 2019
a man sleeping in a camping hammock

Camping is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the beauty and serenity of the great outdoors. Laying under the stars surrounded by the sounds of nature is the perfect way to fall asleep. As any adventure enthusiast knows, getting a comfortable night’s rest can be difficult without the right backpacking and camping materials. Whether you’re on a week-long hike with friends or spending the weekend relaxing at a campground with family, you need a reliable backpacking hammock that’s easy to carry and comfortable to sleep in.

The team at Dutchware knows how important comfort and convenience are during your trip. We’ve even provided tips for sleeping comfortably in a hammock. We believe that all travelers should learn about the benefits of sleeping in a hammock so they can maximize their enjoyment. There are many reasons to sleep in a hammock — perhaps the most significant is that certain hammock styles provide advantages that deliver a restful experience no matter where your journeys take you.

showing off the benefits of air circulation that hammocks offer

Maximum Air Circulation

When it comes to sleeping arrangements, your priority list may vary. Some people need absolute silence, while others need complete darkness. One sleeper may need a soft, cushioned surface while another may want a firm, sturdy place to lay their head. Although it might not be the first thing that comes to mind, air circulation is highly important when you sleep, especially if you’re camping. Trust us — once you’ve spent a night in a hammock, you’ll never want to sleep in a muggy tent again!

We explore the great outdoors to connect with nature, and it may come as no surprise to learn that simply inhaling the fresh air that our green spaces create is enough to positively impact our well-being. Fresh air aids our digestive system, improves our cardiovascular health, brightens our mood, strengthens our immune system, cleans our lungs and improves our cognition and energy levels. Lounging and sleeping in a hammock allows you to surround yourself with this fresh air all night long.

Ventilation is another concern that you won’t have to worry about when sleeping in an open hammock, or a bugnet or netless hammock — versus one with a top cover. Regardless of how you sleep, it’s important to understand how your body can lose heat while you’re camping. Our bodies regularly radiate and lose heat. When we sleep on a cold surface, we lose body heat through conduction. When air circulates, we lose heat to the environment via convection. Sweat removes our heat via evaporation, while our body temperature naturally drops due to the release of warm air through respiration.

Sleeping in a hammock can be more advantageous than sleeping on the ground. Even in the summer, nighttime temperatures may fall, which results in the ground becoming cold or wet. Your body will lose heat through conduction, even if you don’t feel particularly cold while lying on the surface. Hammock sleeping keeps your body dry and off the ground — but air circulating under you can make you feel colder quicker, which you might know as Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS). This is where an under quilt can keep your bum toasty.

But for hot summer nights, with air free to circulate around your hammock, your body can easily stay dry and cool with breathable hammock fabrics. These fabrics prevent moisture from building up while you sleep. Sweat and condensation are whisked off your body and the hammock alike, which helps regulate your body temperature and keeps your sleeping quarters dry.

Maintaining proper air flow is vital when sleeping outdoors. Without access to fresh air, the body may not feel as rested or energized even after a full night of sleep. Air circulation also has an impact on our quality of sleep — especially if you’re sleeping in warm or dry climates. Help your body regulate its temperature and achieve a comfortable sleep by choosing a hammock for your sleeping quarters. With air free to flow completely around the hammock, you’ll wake up each morning refreshed and revitalized.

a man sleeping in a hammock with good body positioning

Perfect Body Positioning

There are several external factors that impact our sleep. Noise, lights, and temperature are major distractions. A sleeping surface that’s too hard or too soft is another reason why we might toss and turn throughout the night.

But even within our own personally preferred sleeping conditions, there’s another factor that heavily influences our ability to achieve and sustain a healthy sleep cycle: body positioning. Believe it or not, the way you choose to fall asleep at night has an effect on your quality of sleep.

You may sleep in one or more of these positions throughout the night: on your back, on your stomach, on your side or in the fetal position. Although these positions are chosen based on personal preference, each of them impacts everybody’s body in the same ways. Stomach sleeping is considered the least desirable position because it does not keep the spine in a neutral position and places pressure on muscles and joints. The fetal position is also unfavorable because it restricts diaphragm breathing and strains your back and hips.

Side sleeping is a better position for your body because it elongates your spine and keeps your airways open. But sleeping on your back is the best way because it keeps the spine, neck and head in natural positions. This can help relieve back or neck pain and reduce acid reflux. Compare that to stomach sleeping, in which your neck is turned at a 90-degree angle and your stomach contents may get worked up into your esophagus. It’s easy to see why back positions are the best.

The best sleep for your body keeps your spine in a natural alignment throughout the night. If possible, keeping your head elevated is also very beneficial. While you could achieve this with a sleeping bag, you run the risk of reverting back to your normal position overnight. Instead of tossing and turning all night, some research suggests trying to sleep in a hammock. Hammocks allow you to comfortably sleep on your back with your head elevated. Your spine will stay aligned and prevent pressure on your bones.

Hammocks are ideal for another reason: they let you fall asleep in almost any conditions. Depending on where your travels take you, your group may have trouble finding a suitable space to sleep. The ground may be too hard, too soft, too cold or too wet. By selecting a hammock instead of a tent and sleeping bag, you have the ability to create safe, comfortable sleeping quarters that keep you dry, warm and away from animal or environmental hazards.

someone having a deep night of sleep in a camping hammock

Deeper Sleep

When we think about getting a good night’s rest, many people often associate “quantity” of sleep with “quality” of sleep.

Sleeping in on the weekend or catching up on sleep may seem like a way to feel more rested, but our actual quality of sleep relies on our sleep cycles. There are five different sleep stages that can be separated into two categories: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM. As you sleep, your brain moves through all five stages throughout the night.

The initial sleep stage is very light and only lasts for a few minutes. As you transition into the second stage, your brain waves continue to slow down. The third and fourth stages of sleep are considered deep sleep because your eye and muscle activity stops. These stages help the body heal and build up energy. Within 90 minutes, the body enters the REM stage, which can last as long as an hour. You’ll enter this stage multiple times each night as the brain processes and stores information.

Your body needs to naturally progress through these cycles over the course of the night. Unfortunately, many people find that their sleep cycles are interrupted throughout the night. These disturbances cause more than just feeling tired in the morning — they can negatively affect your physical and mental health. A failure to successfully move through the sleep cycles can slow your reflexes, decrease your ability to retain knowledge, cause moodiness, and prevent your body from removing harmful toxins. The constant resetting of the sleep cycle prevents deep sleep.

When you consider the many benefits of sleeping in a hammock, it’s not difficult to see how the hammock’s design naturally helps people achieve and sustain a deeper sleep. Stretching out in a hammock allows you to keep your body in the perfect position for maximum bodily comfort. With an aligned spine and elevated head, you keep pressure off your joints, relax your muscles and enable your body to comfortably settle down for the night.

Not only is your body in a comfortable position, but a hammock also provides you with the best conditions for sleep. Many hammocks are designed with materials that provide maximum air circulation. This ventilation allows air to circulate above and beneath you, preventing you from getting trapped in a hot envelope, like what can happen with a tent. The air flow will keep you comfortable, while additional features like a tarp will help you regulate your temperature on cold or windy nights.

Studies are also lending support to the idea that the swaying motion of a hammock encourages a faster transition into sleep. Not only is sleep induced in these conditions, but it is also sustained. The motion may help increase the duration of the second sleep stage, which is typically the stage of the cycle we spend approximately half of our night in. As research identifies the ways brain waves react to the swaying motion while moving through the sleep cycle, hammock sleeping may help mitigate sleeping disorders.

why hammocks help with insomnia

Helps With Insomnia

While some men and women need a comfortable space to feel well-rested through the night, there are many others who suffer from insomnia that prevents them from getting the sleep they need. As many as 40 million people experience insomnia, which is the most common sleep disorder in the country.

Insomnia is more than just occasional sleeplessness — it can last for days or even weeks at a time. Acute and chronic insomnia may be caused by depression, anxiety, food or drink consumption, unhealthy lifestyle habits or other issues.

Those with insomnia may find it difficult to maintain their normal lifestyle at full strength, especially if their insomnia has prevented them from achieving quality sleep for an extended period. Symptoms of insomnia could include but are not limited to:

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling exhausted or fatigued even after sleep
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Irritability or mood problems
  • Memory issues

These symptoms can make everyday activities like work or school challenging or tiresome. They can also make a camping experience very unpleasant or dangerous.

Proper planning is necessary for safety, even on a simple overnight camping trip. Since camping may also involve hiking, swimming, or other outdoor activities, every person attending the trip should be as healthy as possible. Sleep is vital to maintaining your health — a lack of sleep can not only make you moody or lethargic, but it can also contribute to serious long-term health conditions. In the short-term, sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, affect your coordination and balance, and increase your chances of accidental injury.

Sleeping in a hammock can potentially benefit those who suffer from insomnia. Research conducted in a variety of studies suggests that the swaying motion of a hammock can help the body fall into a deep sleep faster. They parallel this idea with the success many parents have while rocking their babies to sleep. Men and women are undergoing tests to see if the swaying motion can lead to longer periods of sleep and potential treatments for those diagnosed with insomnia.

The key element seems to be the changes in brain activity experienced when a person is attempting to fall asleep while being gently rocked by a hammock. Of the five different sleep stages, swaying is thought to increase the length of the second stage, in which we spend nearly half of our sleep cycle. This motion also increases the number of “sleep spindles,” which are associated with the brain trying to keep the sleep cycle calm during the presence of distractions like external noise.

Though further testing is required, many individuals reported positive results after sleeping in a hammock. One study concluded that hammock sleeping may be a potential cure for some cases of insomnia. While every individual’s experience with insomnia differs, evidence points to hammock sleeping improving the quality and length of sleep for all sleepers, including those diagnosed with sleeping disorders.

If you think a hammock can help you achieve an amazing night of sleep, let our team at Dutchware find the right hammock for you.

Get Amazing Sleep With Hammocks From Dutchware

Your time outdoors should be exciting, amusing and memorable. Unfortunately, a poor night’s sleep can make you feel groggy, irritable and fatigued when you should be having fun. Make sure you have the best sleep possible with a hammock from Dutchware. We offer reliable hammocks made from high-quality materials that provide the comfort you need for a peaceful night sleeping under the stars. These lightweight backpacking hammocks are ideal for short weekend trips to the campground and long treks where campsites may be sparse.

Ready to experience the best sleep you’ve ever had while camping? Contact our team at Dutchware and we’ll help you select the hammock that caters to your outdoor lifestyle.

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