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How to Sleep in a Hammock: 4 Steps for a Restful Night’s Sleep

Sleeping in a hammock is good for more than just a sand- or dirt-free night of sleeping outside. Research shows that the motion and support of a hammock can actually help you get a better, longer, deeper night’s sleep.

Of course, that comes with a simple caveat: you have to know how to sleep in a hammock the right way!

Read on to learn all the particulars of hammock sleeping…from choosing the right hammock for sleeping in, to setting it up properly, to how to settle in and wrap up. Then, get ready to have some of the best sleep of your life!

How to Sleep in a Hammock

1. Start With the Right Hammock

Choosing a Single or Double Hammock

It may come as a surprise to you that not all hammocks are equal in size! You can actually snag yourself a single hammock or a double hammock, depending on your spacial needs and personal preferences. Typically, if you are the only one occupying the hammock, a single should be fine. Most double hammocks will fit two people with a little room to spare.

However, if you are someone who struggles with sensory issues or claustrophobia, you might still consider investing in a double hammock for your hammock sleeping arrangement. This may help eliminate sensations of confinement and give you some extra room to stretch out, should you so desire.

Hammock Material

There are some debates as to what is the best type of hammock when it comes to sleeping in a hammock. Some hammock sleeping enthusiasts argue that the only right material for sleeping in a hammock is parachute nylon.

There are some benefits to parachute nylon hammocks that cannot be overlooked. This material does hold up well during long periods of time and reduces the risk of back pain or other bodily discomfort when sleeping in a hammock overnight. It can also help with body temperature regulation while sleeping.

Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Hammock - Portable Hammock Single or Double Hammock Camping Accessories for Outdoor, Indoor w/Tree Straps

However, other hammock sleepers have had wonderful experiences sleeping in brazilian hammocks or even polyester based hammocks. So, while you may have the most risk free, comfortable night’s sleep in a parachute nylon hammock, ultimately it comes down to individual preference and needs when choosing the best hammock for hammock sleeping.

It’s worth noting that most hammock sleeping enthusiasts do agree that flat lay hammocks—those that hang fairly straight with no curve in the middle—are not great for hammock sleeping. They have little give and the risk of rolling off in the middle of the night is higher than with cocoon hammocks, whether those are parachute nylon, brazilian, polyester, etc.

Hammock Size and Weight Measurements

For the most part, hammocks are available in various sizes, such as small, medium, large, or in some cases, extra large. You will need to choose one that best suits your height and weight. For taller campers, a hammock at least eight feet long is your best bet. Bigger folks may want to opt for a larger hammock to ensure they can comfortably stretch out.

If you have any concerns about the size or weight capabilities of a hammock for sleeping, it’s always best to go for a larger and wider hammock than you think you might need. Better to have a higher graded, longer hammock than one that is too small, which may run the risk of tearing or falling down if overloaded.

2. Set Up Your Hammock Properly

Prepare the Area Around Your Hammock

Before you even get started hanging up your hammock for sleeping, you want to scout the area for any threats to your comfort. Clear away any branches that may encroach on your space, as well as large rocks or other natural debris from around where you intend the belly of your hammock to hang.

Make Sure You Hang Your Hammock at the Right Length

Hanging your hammock properly is a huge part of getting a good night’s rest. If you are sleeping in a hammock outdoors, you will want to find some trees or poles with at least 12 to 15 feet between them from which to hang your hammock. This should achieve an angle of about 30 to 45 degrees between the hammock’s edging and the trees—a little pocket in which you can comfortably lay and sway.

If you are beach camping, in your backyard, or even hammock sleeping in your house, you may opt for a more convenient hammock stand. These hammock stands eliminate the hassle of hanging hammocks using cords, hooks, and anchors, and can be a major time-saver.

Hammock Stand

Many hammock stands are also easily transportable, coming in sturdy bags perfect for carrying to and from beaches, campsites, etc.

Ensure Your Hammock Is Well Secured

Whether you are hammock sleeping with tree anchors or a hammock stand, one of the top keys for how to sleep in a hammock worry-free is to be certain it’s well secured. Double check ropes and fastenings, including bungee cords, ropes, anchors, etc.

Before getting into your hammock and nodding off, be sure to test the stability by pressing on it and giving the ropes some good tugs. Quickly correct any issues with stability to ensure you don’t end up with a torn or fallen hammock in the middle of a good night’s sleep.

Check for a Nice Curve in Your Hammock

A comfortable hammock suitable for hammock sleeping should have a bit of a curve in it. A tightly strung, straight edged hammock will usually end up without enough pliancy, leaving you sore from sleeping on it in the morning.

Generally speaking, when hammock sleeping, you want the hammock to hang about 12 to 18 inches off the ground. It should have a nice, deep curve, but your body shouldn’t contact the ground once you settle into it.

3. Use the Right Sleeping Accouterments

Picking the Right Pillow and Blanket for Sleeping in a Hammock

Generally speaking, just about any blanket and pillow will work for sleeping in a hammock. For the most part, you can really treat hammock sleeping much like sleeping in a bed!

It’s often wise to aim for a thinner, more flexible pillow that will adjust to the shape of the hammock. Firmer, more sturdy pillows can be too bulky for comfortable hammock sleeping, forcing your head into weird or unnatural angles.

Sleeping in a Hammock Blanket With a Blanket

Blankets are also often a must for sleeping in a hammock, as they can provide some extra comfort and protection from the elements. Depending on the season when you are sleeping in your hammock, you can opt for a thin blanket or a thick sleeping bag to ward off the elements.

In some cases, and with the right sized hammock, you can even bundle yourself up in the hammock like a cocoon to sleep! Just be aware you may not be able to maintain this position well once you actually drift off to sleep.

Ensuring You Have Protection From Weather and Insects

When sleeping in a hammock indoors, you don’t really have to worry much about the elements. However, hammock sleeping while camping, at the beach, or even in your backyard requires a certain level of preparedness.

Having a hammock rain fly on hand is a great way to protect yourself from unpleasant weather. This way, you can knock out the hassle of getting wet and have the added dimension of some ambient rainfall noise to help lull you to sleep in your cozy, dry hammock!

Managing mosquitos and other insects is a must if you are planning on doing some hammock sleeping in particularly buggy conditions, or even just outdoors in general where you don’t want to have to slather in bug spray before you wrap up in your hammock.

You might consider a hammock with a bug net to ensure you remain protected from all sorts of unwanted insect activity. Otherwise, some mosquito repellent might be a good idea for your outdoor, overnight hammock sleeping adventures.

4. Find the Perfect Hammock Sleeping Position for You

Getting comfy while sleeping in a hammock can be a bit challenging at first. It’s not difficult to do once you get the hang of it, though!

To start with, begin by sitting sideways in the center of your hammock pouch, centering your weight with your feet on the ground. From there, you can stretch out, sliding your head and feet into the hammock at opposite ends.

Contrary to what you might assume, the best position for sleeping in a hammock is actually to lie diagonally across it, slightly off center. This will help balance your weight and prevent painful pressure points from developing, as might happen if you lay straight across the pouch in the middle.

Once you’ve settled into your hammock in the diagonal position, find a position where your head feels supported. This will help prevent any neck tension or a stiff neck or shoulders after a night of sleep.

If you struggle with lower back issues, you may want to roll up a towel or blanket between your knees, purchase a knee pillow, or slide a rolled up towel or blanket beneath the small of your back to ensure proper support. You can also try crossing your legs at the ankle to help relieve potential strain from your low back.

Finally, you can wrap up in the excess fabric from your hammock, in your blanket, or even in a sleeping bag if it’s a particularly cold night. Now you’re comfy and cozy and ready for one of the best night’s sleeps of your life!

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Sleep in a Hammock

Do I need to worry about falling out of my hammock while I sleep?

While in very rare cases, some restless sleepers may find themselves pitching out of their hammock in the middle of a sleep cycle, this is a rarity and by no means the norm. The cradle and cocoon design of hammocks is specifically intended to prevent this sort of outcome.

The risk of rolling out of your hammock is higher if you are using a flat lay hammock, which is why that style of design is not recommended for hammock sleeping.

What are the core benefits of sleeping in a hammock?

We’ve already addressed how sleeping in a hammock has been shown to lead to deeper, more restful sleep due to the rocking and swaying motion. But there are a plethora of other reasons why hammock sleeping is a beneficial practice.

As opposed to traditional camping setups, such as a tent mat or air mattress, hammock sleeping has been shown to reduce back pain. Hammocks are also easily transportable, most weighing less than ten pounds (including the gear needed to hang them from supports of some kind).

Due to their compact size, camping hammocks help you make the most of your campsite space, tacking up less square footage than a tent. In the summertime, they can be a real lifesaver to beat the heat, as they allow fantastic air flow on all sides of your body.

This helps eliminate the discomfort that can come from lying on a warm tent mat after a hot day of camping, hiking, and other fun.

Camping hammocks are also highly affordable and often more durable than camping mattresses of equal quality. They also make setup and teardown a breeze. Once you have the hang of pitching your sleeping hammock, you can usually do it in a matter of minutes, and returning it to its convenient carrying case is just as simple.

I’m a side/back/stomach sleeper. Can I sleep in any position in a hammock?

You absolutely can! One of the great appeals to sleeping in a hammock is that it’s quite amenable to any sleeping position. You can sleep on your side, stomach, back, in a fetal position, or just about any way that you find comfortable.

Hammocks are also quite pliable, making them great for restless sleepers who need to change positions multiple times a night. Folks who tend to move around in their sleep a lot will also find tremendous comfortability in the flexible design of a hammock.

Wrapping up How to Sleep in a Hammock

Now that you know how to sleep in a hammock safely and comfortably, are you ready for a blissful night’s sleep? Before you drift off, be sure to take time to read our list of the 11 Best Hammock Beds You Can Comfortably Sleep In!

These hammocks will have you rocking to sleep like a baby…especially now that you know how to confidently choose one and set it up the right way!