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