We can do anything for a good night’s sleep, isn’t it? We spend one-third of our lives sleeping. Research says people who are chronically sleep deprived are more likely to have weight-related issues, cardiovascular diseases, emotional distress and hypertension, than those who get good sleep. Don’t we do all we can to ensure we sleep like a baby? Like spending thousands of dollars on mattresses, trying to find the one that doesn’t hurt your back and leaves you tossing and turning all night long? Hello, hammock. An ancient body of research claims the age-old ‘cloth’ between two trees may be the most ingenious bed humans have ever created. Can you sleep in a hammock instead of a bed? Are hammocks bad for your back? Read on to know more.
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How to Lay in a Hammock?
Do you know how deeply sleeping position impacts your back? Many people believe hammocks aren’t great for their spine mainly because they don’t know how to sleep properly in one. They believe that their backs will necessarily take the dip/curve shape of the empty hammock when slept in. That’s not true! So, how do you sleep in that thing?
By lying in a diagonal position, the actual sleeping surface is flattened and the said curve is gotten rid of. The sinking effect which people are bothered about and that which puts unnatural pressure on your back, is actually because of lying in a straight up position. If there is discomfort, you’re either lying in it all wrong, or the hammock is not hung properly. The hammock posture is to be monitored too. The hammock should be hung in a perfect balance. Neither too tight nor too loose is just the perfect position to sleep in. If it’s hung too tight, it will rise up and make it difficult for you to lie diagonally; and if too loose, it will hang down with a deep curve that may hurt your back.
Once you get a hang of how to sleep in one, you may actually ditch your bed for sleeping in a hammock in the long term! The support, comfort and their ability to induce sleep faster, makes them a great go-to solution for back-pain sufferers.
Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock
Faster and Deeper Sleep
A study found that the rocking and oscillating movement of the hammock exerts a synchronizing action in the brain that reinforces sleep which enables a person to sleep faster and for a longer period. Since time immemorial, babies are cradled to sleep. You know why? The swinging motion is so soothing, that it gives you a nice, deep sleep (due to a dramatic boost in sleep spindles or brain wave oscillations). And deep sleep is beneficial for mood improvement, memory and mental hygiene. More points for snoring!
Ideal Sleeping Posture
Dr. Steven Park, a head and neck surgeon and a member of the AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) advocates that the ideal sleeping position is on one’s back, with the head elevated to about 10% to 30%. That actually gives the brain optimal blood circulation by avoiding congestion and also allows for clear, unobstructed breathing, which will, in turn, give you peaceful sleep. Elevated legs with the help of pillows or an adjustable bed also do the trick, he says. That’s almost the exact position what a hammock gives you. What would you go for? A $40 hammock or a $4,000 adjustable bed?
Relieves Back Pain
Hammocks, the best friends of chiropractors and orthopedics! Hammocks are very commonly recommended by them because of their ergonomic shape. The cradling feeling and the body’s posture is very similar to that in the womb (that’s the theory, folks). That’s why hammocks are now also used medically, for premature babies. The comfort level is maximum as the cradle-like shape paired with suspension in the air evenly distributes the weight of our body, resulting in zero pressure points and hence, no pain. No pain, and definitely no weight gain! (Sleep deprivation leads to weight gain, remember?)
Influences Upright Posture
A research published in the International Archives of Medicine states that “Sleeping in a hammock influenced the orthostatic posture, especially in the horizontal alignment of the head, the hip angle, the vertical alignment of the body, and horizontal alignment of the pelvis in the side views.” The study shows a positive result of sleeping in hammocks.
Back Pain Woes
Once upon a time, Fred woke up in the morning and had back pain. The end. That’s all to the story. Of course, back pain could be due to an injury or due to a myofascial pain, but did you know sleeping in awkward back postures is a major reason of acute back pain in the wee hours of the morning? Sleeping position is a clear contributor to back pain. Usually, we don’t realize that there could be a problem with our sleep posture until it’s too late.
If you are already suffering from an existing spinal or back problems like a pinched spinal nerve or scoliosis, then sleeping in a hammock can be very painful. In that case, talk to your physician and see if they recommend using a hammock.
The recommended measures to counter all the back trouble arising out of improper sleep postures starts out by making lying down very comfortable. Adding bracing with pillows might help too. Many people are resorting to Paleo sleeping — sleeping on the ground ‘naturally’, opting it over other popular opinions that recommend sleeping on mattresses and pillows. But comfort being a critical factor, all these steps taken remain to be wishful.
Hammocks are your best bet when it comes to comfort and pain relief. The ergonomically sound structure of the hammock really eases the pressure points, providing ultimate comfort. Ancient people slept in hammocks 700 years ago and hence they such strong backs! In a lot of South American and Central American cultures, the hammock is like a cultural icon for millions and it is the only way they know how to sleep comfortably.
Downsides of Sleeping in a Hammock
As much as hammocks are great for back pain and deep sleep, there are some drawbacks to it too.
- Hammocks are the best when and if set up in a proper position, just with the right tightness to prevent sags but not tight enough to look like a washboard. Improper setting of the hammock may lead to excess body aches in addition to the back pain you’ll experience.
- Hammocks can also be hazardous if you’re a sleeper who moves constantly in his sleep, throughout the night. Such a person has a greater risk of fall than a person who sleeps in a stationary bed. And imagine if the hammock is not fixed in a sturdy, supportive place with either a frame or good quality nails (Yikes!). In such cases, the hammock will collapse with any additional weight added.
- Sleeping in the hammock with a partner can be a rough deal. The mattresses that are available to fit into a hammock are generally thin, to avoid excess on the edges. This makes it best designed for solo sleep. When two people lie down in a hammock, they are forced to sleep in the ‘back only’ position, which gives rise to immense discomfort and can cause the hammock to tip over on slight movement, sending the couple right off it.
All Hail the Hammock!
People associate hammock with feelings of relaxation and comfort – and for good reason. Nothing beats lying in a hammock on a gorgeous summer afternoon. The swinging beds are rising in popularity and how. Compared to sleeping in a bed, hammocks put you in a sleeping position with a curved spine. As seen before, the ideal sleeping position is lying flat on your back. Sleeping on your stomach can put excess pressure on your spine and cause back pain. Hammocks require you to sleep on your back and can be quite comfortable for people suffering from back pain. Swapping your bed with a swinging one? Use it the right way and you’ll find that you’re getting some of the best sleep you’ve ever gotten!