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The 5 Night Hammock Bed Experiment

Posted on December 08, 2012 by Philippe Bourdeau | 12 comments

What We Learned:
  1. Set a blanket to sleep on to keep you warm;
  2. Hammocks are amazing for reading;
  3. Bedroom feels huuuge without a bed;
  4. No more back pain - completely eliminated;
  5. It's best to lay in a slightly diagonal position - in order to straighten the body;
  6. This is worth an experiment! (hint, hint)...

Hammocks we recommend for sleeping: Brazilian Hammocks, Mayan Hammocks and Nicaraguan Hammocks.

CEO's Blog

I have a confession to make: I’m totally biased. I not only love Hammocks but also sell them.

As founder and “Relaxer in Chief” of Hammock Universe, I have a vested interest of promoting everything about hammocks. Simple: I sell more hammocks, I make more money. That said- and despite my bias, I promise to be as “neutral” as I can possibly be in the next entries- where I’ll be describing my experience of replacing my traditional bed with a hammock for 4 nights. I’ll list the good, the bad, and everything in between.

So... Why do this?

I've been kicking this idea around in my head for quite awhile and figured it was about time. Like most other North Americans, I've been raised with the idea that a bed & mattress is the only modern way to get a good night’s sleep. Seeing as I have much difficulty getting proper deep sleep on a traditional bed, it’s high time I give something else a shot. Curing my insomnia issues would be a god-send... seems that 3 nights on 4 are “incomplete” - with me waking several times during the night. I wonder- is this due to my physical environment (bed) or my psychological state? One of the reasons I'm embarking on this “test” is to find out.

In the mornings, I also feel lower-back pain on a regular basis. Although it disappears after 5 or 10 minutes of movement after I'm out of bed... it’s quite annoying.

Those who have gone there before rant & rave...

I must say that I'm humbled.. enthused.. and rather blown away by what our own customers are saying about their "sleeping in a hammock" experiences. I've always suspected that the millions of hammock-sleepers in Central & South America are onto something - but never realized the magnitude of the impact it could have until reviews started flowing in from our North American customers. In my view, the act of dispensing with the mattress & trying a hammock is fairly recent here in North America. Judging by what we hear from our customers- it’s catching on. I'm convinced that, at some point in the future, there will be some NY Times article on how trendy “hammock-sleeping” is becoming. For now, though, it seems to me that “those in the know” are in on a happiness-inducing secret.

Here are a few samples of reviews we've received:

By: Killhouse Title: Ditch your bed!
...“Everyone warned me that I wouldn't be comfortable, that my back would hurt, that I would sleep terribly. They're all wrong. My back feels just fine - and I have had back problems in the past!”...”

By: hammockgirl Title: What a great bed!!
...“Thanks to the guy who reviewed this who had been sleeping in hammocks for 30 years. His review clinched the deal for me. I had been ill for about 4 days and normally I can't stay in a bed because I would get aches and pains. No issues with this hammock. I rested comfortably and quickened my recovery time. Every home should have one!...”

By: Debbie Title: Changed my life!
...“have a lower back degenerative disk disease. After sleeping for a weekend camping with a hammock I noticed my back pain was almost absent. I ordered this hammock as a bed replacement. I have been sleeping in it every night for over a week now and am off all anti inflammatory medication and no longer take pain meds. to get through my day. This hammock has changed my life! I get up in the morning a little stiff from sleeping so hard I don't move, but I have no back pain and can walk straight right out of the hammock!! So grateful for a good night sleep and a pain free morning that I haven't had for over 10 years!! thank you!...”

In my humble opinion, that’s powerful stuff.

So... here we go... call this a “controlled” experiment if you will...I'm not sure what the results will be but I'm hopeful that my nights are about to become a lot more rejuvenating!

Sunday, Dec. 2nd, 2012
I'm still groggy from my first full night in the hammock. My set-up was quite basic: I used a regular sheet as a first layer, and a blanket as a top layer. I also used a small pillow. My laying position was slightly diagonal to straighten out my body as much as possible. My hammock is a Nicaraguan Hammock, which has a tight doubled-layered open weave. The hammock stand (I chose it out of necessity due to space constraints) is the Universal Stand for non-spreader bar hammocks.

As I settled in.. I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt. My initial thought was that the night would be a blissful one. Unfortunately, the one sheet as a base layer wasn't enough. Winter nights up here in Canada are pretty cold and as a consequence I woke up 2-3 times with a cold back. Live & learn... will have to make some adjustments tonight. The good news is that my lower back (which usually hurts in the morning) feels great.

 

Monday Dec. 3rd, 2012
The 2nd night was much better. I got 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I read for a few minutes and then passed out.

I corrected the cold issue by adding a soft polyester blanket to the mix... so I used 2 soft blankets (one under me and one over) & the same pillow. That ended up being a perfect mix as I woke up warm and toasty. The open weave of the hammock would be wonderful in the summer as it allows air-flow but in colder conditions I've learned that it has to be properly covered.

As I was about to fall asleep last night, I remember a blissful moment of thinking about how great it was that I was suspended in a hammock. The feeling of it is completely different than a mattress. I'm not sure if it’s the novelty of it for the time being, but I loved that feeling.

Another difference I've noticed in a hammock is movement. On a regular mattress, I tend to toss and turn forever before falling asleep. In a hammock, especially if sleeping at a slightly diagonal position, the feeling is more one of being “locked into position”. No tossing and turning, no waking up in a different positions...

My back feels wonderful again this morning.

Tuesday Dec. 4th, 2012
One of the best, most restful nights of deep sleep I can remember. I passed out at 11 PM and slept straight through to 9:30 AM. I even overslept.

Again, another pleasant surprise is how great the back feels. No pain whatsoever, which is unheard of for me 3 nights in a row. I should have tried this way, way sooner.

Wednesday Dec. 5th, 2012
At this point my Nicaraguan hammock bed is almost working too well. I overslept, again. I was in deep dreamland for about 11 hours - crazy. Will need to set-up my alarm tomorrow as that's just too much sleep. 1 more night to go.

Thursday + Friday Dec. 6th & 7th, 2012
Another great 2 nights of sleep. :) The principle thing I noticed last night was that when I slipped into the hammock, I wasn't overly tired and usually in that state it would take be forever to fall asleep. In the hammock, the time required to fall into dreamland was much less (10 minutes at most). Feeling great again this morning...

Conclusion

There is something about laying in a hammock that makes you see the world & your surroundings differently. I've never found an other piece of furniture that does that. On the first night of this experiment, while slipping into my hammock, I wondered how things would go. I had resolved to write this blog whether the experience was good or bad- so what would I say if it turned out to be a disaster? Thankfully, I never had to go there.

It's difficult in the mid-life to imagine such a profound change to an ingrained behavior. I've slept in regular beds my whole life. What this has showed me in that a change in habits can lead to radical improvements. The last 5 nights have been the best "5-night stretch" I can remember. I spend my days feeling rested and alert. I'm going to keep my hammock set-up in my bedroom. Every opportunity I have, I'm going to take advantage and sleep in my hammock bed.

The main benefit for me has been not only deeper sleep - but also how great my back in feeling. I'm pretty sure that hammocks have the potential to put most chiropractors out of business. The anecdotal evidence I've seen and felt points to a monumental improvement for those who suffer from back pains. I'm certainly not a doctor, but I know the effect it's had on me, and many of our customers. Over the last 5 nights, I haven't experienced any back pain whatsoever. I think there's a huge untapped potential here...

The fact a hammock set-up saves a ton of space & is much cheaper than a mattress is just icing on the cake.

Now that I have personal experience with hammock sleeping (and not just snoozing!), I can also properly advise our customers on tossing the mattress & taking the hammock plunge. :)

I've also video blogged this whole experiment, you can watch here.

Philippe Bourdeau
"Relaxer in Chief"

Comments

  • Paul Marker

    Nice post.The gentle rocking motion of a hammock is the best way to guarantee good sleep.t also had effects consistent with deep sleep synchronised neural activity.Durable Hammocks,it helps people nod off faster and sleep more deeply, said scientists who studied the brainwaves of sleepers.

  • Hammock Universe "Relaxer in Chief"

    Hi Meg, the hammocks without spreader-bars are much better as bed replacements because you won’t fall to the ground in case of sleep movement. :)

  • Meg

    Hi, I am looking into throwing out my mattress and sleeping in a hammock. I don’t have back problems normally, but I thought it would be a fun practice to sleep in a hammock – sort of like a summery feel all year long?
    When I first began researching, I figured a hammock with a spreader bar would be best… However, after reading this blog and comments from others, I’m not sure if a spreader bar is the way to go… I’m a bit confused now.

  • Joan

    My hammock required a min. of 12’ so I hung it a bit on the diagonal which gave me the length. Mine hangs from cargo hooks screwed into the wall studs. Too free up the space I hook both ends on the same hook and it drapes down the wall.I also tie a string around the middle and hang it up to keep it off the floor.

  • David

    Yo my brother! I love the site, and I sure do miss my hammock life. I just wanted to drop by and say ‘keep it up!’

  • Kyle
    I have been sleeping in a hammock (2 person brazilian) for the last four months I have not had any issues with back pain as I used to with sleeping in a traditional bed. I feel my dreams have been more lucid as well. It cost 3 dollars to get some eyebolts to stretch it over a 10 foot span. I have noticed that if I try to oversleep which isn’t a good idea under any circumstances that it isn’t as easy to do in a hammock as it was in a bed, my attendance at school has been my best yet. I think that 15% larger is an understatement, it’s very easy to unhook one side and practically clear the room of the hammock by hanging it against one wall. A sheep pelt make a better bottom blanket that a blanket does too.
  • gabriella

    Oh, and one more comment: my arms don’t go numb at night anymore. I used to wake up a few times most nights because the top arm (side sleeping) would go dead numb even with pillow support (which disappears of course when a person rolls over.) It was so bad I’d need to shake it back to life with my other hand. Honestly, in almost 16 months of exclusive hammock sleeping, I’ve only had a slight pins and needles in one arm on a single occasion.

    The leg muscles have strengthened (bonus) so getting in and out of the hammock is now a breeze. It’s great and the occasional knee pain I’d get some nights is gone.

    Now I’m going to fold my wool duvet over myself and the cat is going to lie down on top of my upper back and shoulder. A few seconds later I’ll be totally unconscious. Good night.

  • Simon

    I’ve been sleeping in a brazilian double hammock for 2 months now. Its ideal because my room is small, and i can just unhook it during the day.
    I cant say back pain has completely disappeared, but it was greatly reduced.
    My greatest problem now is getting up in the morning, because it is soo comfortable!
    I’m hooked!

  • Marcel

    I wish i could try this at my home. I have had back pain for years. Unfortunately i purchased one of your monster hammocks and i need a minimum of 15 feet to set it up. It is still a very comfortable hammock for summertime use where i have it set up between 2 huge trees with a “tarp style” roof so it doesn’t get all littered with assorted things falling from the trees.

  • jeremy

    I wonder if the hammock would be good to add to a walk-in closet for when the spouse is tossing and turning on the bed.

 

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