Camping using a hammock instead of a tent has numerous advantages.
A hammock is more portable than a tent, which makes it ideal for backpacking expeditions. Also, the hammock lifts you from the ground, protecting you from small animals and crawling bugs and critters. Finally, it’s easy to set up and disassemble a hammock – great news at the end of a tiring day of exploring.
Still, sleeping in a hammock takes some practice, as does mastering how to set it up to ensure your absolute comfort. Read this article to learn the techniques and tricks on how to lay in a hammock. Soon, you’ll even abandon your bed at home for the comfort of a hammock!
The Hammock Curve
You may be wondering how anyone can get a good night’s sleep in something shaped like a banana. How can anyone be so comfortable when their bodies are skewed at such an angle?
Well, you’re not alone. In fact, in earlier times, a spreader bar was introduced to make the hammock spread out better, and many people still use it even today.
Of course, the spreader bar makes it less stable and portable, two things you need desperately when using a hammock. Just remember that hammocks have been used as functional beds for centuries – long before that spreader bar came along.
So, how exactly did they do it?
Set Up Your Hammock LOOSELY
There aren't many steps to remember if you’re going to set up your hammock. However, you need to get them right to ensure your hammock.
It is common sense that hanging it too low will make you sweep the ground, and hanging one end higher than the other will place the hammock at an odd angle. However, many people don’t remember to make the hammock lose enough; we think that a tighter hammock is a more stable hammock. Remember history – we are scared of the hammock curve; your back starts aching just looking at it.
A hammock was never made to be flat, and you shouldn’t try to make it so. Tightening your hammock will cause the sides to cocoon around you, which is uncomfortable and irritating. With the tight walls, you’ll be forced to stay in one position in the middle of your hammock, with little or no room to stretch or switch positions.
Also, a tighter hammock increases the pressure on the objects from where it is hanging, causing more damage. But if you loosen it a little, the hammock will have more room, and you will be more relaxed laying in it.
Master the “Hammock Angle”
The hammock angle is the secret to being able to sleep comfortably in a curve, even if you perceive that sleeping in a curve is very uncomfortable. It is the game-changer you have been looking for.
Hang your hammock loosely because the hammock angle takes advantage of the width of your hammock. And we’ve already learned that a tight hammock creates a narrow hammock whose walls cling worse than a wet shower curtain. To master sleeping or laying in a hammock, do the following:
- Lie down in the center of the hammock as you would typically do.
- Move your feet and legs 8-12 inches to the side, until they seem to be sitting lower and flatter than before.
- Move your head and torso to the opposite side for a similar distance.
You will know that you have done it properly if your body seems to be lying almost flat in your curved hammock. Ideally, your body lies at an angle of about 30 degrees from the center of the hammock.
When you hang your hammock loose, the sides of the hammock are loose while the center is tight (the opposite happens if you hang it tight). So, when you shift your body slightly away from the center in opposite directions, the hammock responds by loosening the center and gently cradling your body.
The hammock under you becomes flatter and more comfortable to sleep in. You won’t be completely flat; instead, the material conforms to the natural shape of your spine, giving you better rest. This is why people ditch beds for hammocks.
Sleeping on Your Side
If you are a side sleeper, you may wonder whether or not you can pull this feat in your hammock. The short answer is yes, you can comfortably sleep on your side, while still applying the hammock angle hack above. Of course, you need a good quality hammock, made from a sturdy material that won’t flip or spin when you shift positions.
That said, even if you don’t sleep on your back in a bed, you’ll find the position very comfortable in a hammock. Why is this?
We shift positions in our sleep because of pressure points. When you have placed pressure on one part for too long, you need to shift to give that part a break.
Sleeping at the Hammock angle creates uniform pressure along your whole body, eliminating these pressure points. This is why you can sleep in the same position for hours and not wake up tired or sore.
In fact, according to research, the best sleeping position is the one you assume naturally when you apply the hammock angle as above. You should have your head slightly elevated (10-30 percent) to allow for optimal blood circulation and unhindered breathing. The legs should also be slightly elevated, and the subject sleeping on their back as much as possible.
If you want to get the full benefits of sleeping in a hammock, whether at home or when camping, getting a double hammock should be your priority. A double hammock has enough space for you to maneuver into the hammock angle, with some room to spare for your gear if camping. Then, you should take the time to learn how to lay in a hammock.
Of course, the width you need depends on your size: short people will easily lay comfortably in a single hammock, but tall people need a double hammock. Finally, be sure not to hang your hammock more than three feet from the ground to reduce the impact of a fall, should it happen.