How to sleep in a hammock

One of the most relaxing feelings in the world is lying in a hammock on a sunny day, reading a book or just chilling out.

But, what about when it comes to actually sleeping in a hammock? Is it comfortable? Is it good for you?

This guide gives you the low down on how to sleep in a hammock properly for the perfect night’s sleep.

Using a hammock as a bed

Hammock camping is pretty common, but did you know you can actually use a hammock as your full time bed in your home?

There are a few different options when it comes to getting yourself a hammock. You could buy a classic rope and wooden hanged-hammock, or you could go for an indoor hammock.

The most important thing is what you hang your hammock from. As long as it can hold the weight of your body and stop you from rolling out of the hammock, it’s good enough to be used.

How to sleep in a hammock
How to sleep in a hammock

Benefits of sleeping in a hammock

Once you’ve got your hammock and decided where in your home to put it, you just need to get into it and find a comfortable sleeping position.

Hammocks are often better than beds because they’re much softer and gently rock you as if someone is rocking you to sleep in their arms.

Once you’re in the hammock, you can relax and lay in any position that is comfortable for you. If your shoulders aren’t completely relaxed they’ll be gently pushed back by the fabric of the hammock, which should help you feel more at ease.

How to sleep in a hammock

The first thing to do is to check that you have your hammock set up correctly.

Choose the right hammock

Rope style hammocks tend to be best for garden use rather than sleeping in. Instead, opt for a parachute nylon hammock which will hold your weight evenly and will stop you from getting nasty rope marks on your body overnight.

If you do use a rope hammock to sleep in, make sure to put something between you and the ropes before you settle in for the night. You can use a foam camping pad or even just a thick blanket.

Get the right size

You might not realise this, but hammocks come in different shapes and sizes. Generally the larger the hammock the more comfortable it is. However, you obviously need to factor in the space available for your hammock set up and may need to go with a smaller option. If you have the space, an 8 foot hammock is a good choice.

Double hammocks

It’s even possible to get a double hammock, big enough to sleep with a partner. Even if you are planning on sleeping alone, a double hammock is actually comfier than a single one, so choosing a double hammock is a great idea if you have the space.

Don’t tie your hammock too ‘straight’

It may be tempting to try to tie your hammock tight to provide a ‘flat’ bed, but actually that’s not the best way to fall asleep in a hammock.

If your hammock is too taught it will feel like it is squeezing you too tightly once you are in it. Instead, a deep curve in your hammock will give you the most comfort. Aim for a dip or ‘sag’ of around 30% to start, and actually experiment with looser than this if you still aren’t comfortable.

Lie on a slight diagonal

Most people simply assume that they should lie with their head pointing at one end of the hammock and their feet at the other. However, this is one of the important mistakes that people make.

It’s better to lie on a slight diagonal. This will be more comfortable and will also keep your back straighter than if you lay with your head at the end of the hammock.

Instead, lie at an angle which is about 20-30% of the diagonal length of the hammock. This will actually give you a flatter sleeping position and avoid your back being too curved as you sleep. You should then find that you can fall into a comfy position that is both relaxing and relieves any pressure on your joints.

If you struggle to sleep straight in a normal bed after sleeping in a hammock you can read our post on how to stop sleeping diagonally.

Don’t sleep too flat or too upright

You should always avoid sleeping completely flat or completely upright in your hammock. Although this will make you feel slightly more secure, it will not be the most comfortable way to lie in a hammock.

Use a pillow

Yes, just like in a traditional bed, in order to get properly comfy in a hammock you are going to want to use a pillow. However, you don’t necessarily need to sleep with your pillow in the same position as usual.

A good way to use a hammock is to rest one end of your pillow against one side of the hammock and then prop up your head so that it is at an angle. This will give you a much better view than you would get from an ordinary bed or sofa, and you won’t get neck ache.

Alternatively, you might want to try putting the pillow between your legs, though this may feel a bit too snug for some people.

Find a natural sleeping position

It can take a little while to find the right sleeping position that works for you in a hammock, but once you’ve found it you should be able to sleep well without too much problem. In fact, some people actually claim to prefer sleeping in a hammock to sleeping in a bed.

Remember to check whether one side of your body is more relaxed than the other.

If your legs are hanging over the edge of your hammock, you can pull them up slightly to keep them in a more natural position.

Adjust your hammock height

The right height is also very important if you want to get a perfect night’s sleep in your hammock. The standard height of a hammock is somewhere around shoulder level, but this might not be the best position for everyone.

If you don’t like this height, you can always try adjusting it.

Be aware of temperature

One thing that is often forgotten when trying to sleep in a hammock is that it can actually be quite cold, as air is circulating around you. You are definitely going to want to make sure you have plenty of blankets, a duvet or sleeping bag to keep warm throughout the night.

Use a hammock underquilt

One of the best ways to help keep warm in a hammock is to use a hammock underquilt. These tie to the underside of your hammock and act as an insulating layer to protect you against the cold.

Be mindful of the weather

If you are going to be using your hammock outside then one thing that you need to bear in mind with hammocks is that they do not work so well in cold or wet conditions. If it is any colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or if there is rain forecast overnight, then you might be better off using a tent instead.

If you aren’t sure what the weather is going to be, set up a tarp above your hammock to keep you dry.

What is the proper way to sleep in a hammock?

The best way to sleep in a hammock is at a 20-30 degree diagonal angle and with a 30 degree ‘sag’ in the hammock.

Can I sleep in a hammock every night?

As long as you have your hammock set up properly there is no reason you can’t sleep in a hammock every night.

Parachute nylon hammocks are a good choice for regular sleeping as they provide good support for your body.

Getting a good night’s sleep on a hammock is pretty easy if you remember to sleep slightly on the diagonal and not tie your hammock too tight. Having your hammock correctly positioned and using warm under and over layers of insulation are key to a restful sleep.

Can you sleep comfortably in a hammock?

Yes, once you have followed the tips above you can sleep very comfortably in a hammock. If you do find that your back is not sufficiently supported, remember to angle your body in the hammock so that you aren’t sleeping with your head directly at the top and your feet at the bottom, by are instead at a 20-30 degree diagonal angle.

Can you sleep on your stomach in a hammock?

It is possible to sleep on your stomach in a hammock. The key is to tie your hammock with around a 30 degree ‘sag’ and then get in on the diagonal. This gives you a relatively flat surface to sleep on and you can even roll over on to your belly like this. However, lots of people actually find that they fall asleep easily on their back in a hammock even if they usually sleep on their fronts.

Can you sleep on your side in a hammock?

Yes, it is possible to sleep on your side in a hammock, as long as you have the correct ‘sag’ in your hammock hang and body position on the hammock. Using pillows behind your back makes sleeping on your side in a hammock even more comfortable.

Sleeping in a hammock with a partner

You can buy a single or double hammock, and obviously double hammocks are much more comfortable for two people to sleep in.

It can be possible for two people to share a single (large) hammock if they sleep ‘top to toe’ but this isn’t the most comfortable or enjoyable way to spend the night with your partner.

Double hammocks are specially designed to be slept in with a partner (although they are super comfy on your own too).

However, some people find that they just can’t get used to sleeping together with their partner in a hammock, as the hammock can push you together more than is comfortable for sleeping.

Another idea is to sleep with single hammocks side by side so that you are still close to each other but have your own sleeping hammock.

Do I need a sleeping pad in a hammock?

You don’t need a sleeping pad in a nylon fabric hammock but you will likely still want some form of insulation under you. You can use a blanket or a specially designed hammock underquilt to prevent getting too cold in your hammock overnight.

Is sleeping in a hammock bad for your back?

A hammock is not bad for your back and many people can actually find it beneficial to sleep in a hammock. A hammock can offer support without putting pressure on your lower back in the same way that a flat bed can do. Furthermore, sleeping in a hammock stops you from tossing and turning through the night, thereby preventing muscle strains in your back through too much movement.

Sleeping in a hammock can be good for your back, for example as compared with other types of mattresses. E.g a memory foam mattress can be bad for your back when it is too soft, whereas a hammock gives a degree of support without keeping your back absolutely rigid.

As ever, it’s important to set your hammock up correctly in order for it to be good for your back.

Can I hang a hammock in my room?

Yes, absolutely you can use your hammock indoors in your bedroom. A hammock frame or hammock stand makes setting up your hammock indoors easy and safe.

How tight should your hammock be?

Your hammock should be tied so that it has around a 30 degree ‘sag’ in the middle if you plan on sleeping in it.

Best hammock for sleeping every night

A parachute nylon hammock is by far the best type of hammock for sleeping in regularly. You should also ensure that you have an insulating layer, such as a quilt or blanket, beneath you as well as sufficient blankets and pillows to be comfortable and warm

Conclusion: How to sleep in a hammock

Sleeping in a hammock is not only comfortable, but it can also be beneficial for your back. You can use a hammock indoors or outdoors, and you don’t need a sleeping pad if you have the correct hang and body position. If you’re looking for the perfect way to sleep every night, we recommend using a parachute nylon hammock with an insulating layer beneath you.

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