How to Sleep in a Hammock to Avoid Back Pain?

The Hammock Specialist is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

When it comes to hammock sleeping, two opposing attitudes are predominant among people. They either believe it is heavenly cozy and comfortable, or that it is extremely bad for your back and neck.

So which one is it?

To be entirely honest, neither of the two extremes is altogether true. Hammocks are not as comfortable as people tend to expect them to be.

If you approach the entire hammock camping idea with the 'I'll figure it out along the way' attitude, you will most likely wake up in pain. However, once you figure it all out, hammocks will become your camping companion for life.

In this article, we will finally deconstruct the myths of hammock sleeping and provide some useful hints on how to sleep in a hammock correctly to embrace all the benefits of the zero pressure points bedding.

Stay tuned!


What Are the Benefits of Hammock Sleeping?

how to sleep in a hammock camping

Contrary to popular beliefs, hammocks, when properly used, do not cause any back pain or grumpy mood in the morning.

In fact, they have many amazing benefits on health overall, but precisely the quality of your sleep. Let's see what these benefits are!

1. Fall Asleep Faster

Why do you think babies fall asleep in a cradle? Could it be the swaying motion?

A study performed on twelve healthy males has proven that rocking motion can synchronize brain waves and affect the physiological parameters of human sleep.

Namely, the males lying in a slowly rocking bed have fallen to sleep faster than the ones sleeping in a regular bed. Therefore, the swaying motion of a hammock can produce the same effect.

2. Deeper Sleep

how to sleep in a hammock comfortable

The study mentioned above, furthermore, has proven that the gentle rocking motion increases the duration of the N2 stage of sleep, which is when your muscles are relaxed, and your brain enters the slow-wave activity.

In other words, you will get better sleep and wake up fresher and more relaxed than you usually do. 

3. Fight Insomnia

As it has been proven that rocking motion can synchronize the brain waves and reinforce endogenous sleep rhythms, it definitely can be used as a method for treating insomnia.

Having a pleasant deep sleep daily may help you improve the biorhythm in the long run. 

So, the cradles are not a coincidence, after all.

Common Mistakes People Make When Sleeping in a Hammock

how to sleep in a hammock overnight
  • Not using tree straps: Many people rely on the traditional rope suspension system in order to save some money or due to a lack of trust for the new methods. But actually, tree straps are way more convenient to use; they don't require complicated knots; they do not stretch and are environmentally friendly. 
  • Sleeping in a banana position: Every hammock newbie has tried sleeping in a banana position, and it's terrible. Yes, hammock seems to follow the natural curve of your body, but they don't. In order to enjoy zero pressure points, you need to be in a flat position. A detailed explanation of the right position you should sleep in is in our guide below.
  • Choosing the wrong hammock: A hammock you will sleep in comfortably is not the hammock you see in those fancy beach commercials. The esthetic hammocks people usually buy for their yards, the beach, or restaurants are mostly rope hammocks. However, rope hammocks are incredibly uncomfortable for sleeping, you won't be able to position yourself correctly, and the knots will cause an unpleasant feeling under your back. What you need is a Brazilian hammock that will give you enough space and just enough sag to lie in a flat position. 

Step by Step Guide to Perfect Hammock Sleep

Finally, here we are with a step by step guide on how to get the best of your hammock sleep. Newbies, get ready to become pros!

1. Choose the Right Size

how to sleeping in a hammock

In order to have a good sleep in your hammock without putting pressure on your joints and back, you need to lie in a flat position.

However, small hammocks will never allow you this. That is why you should consider buying a double hammock or a single large hammock as you will have more space you need to position yourself properly.

The most common size people opt for when camping in a hammock is an 11ft hammock.

2. Hang the Hammock Properly

The most common mistake people make when they buy a hammock for the first time is the wrong setup. They either hang the hammock too loose, or they flatten it up too much.

So what is the right angle? A simple trick to get a perfect hang every time is to create a 30 degrees angle between the tree or any other support object and the bottom of the rope. 

how to sleep in an eno hammock

3. Lie in the Right Position

What's causing your back pain, is the banana position you sleep in. When you lie in a banana position, your knees are hyperextended, causing strain on your joints and back.

What you want to do is lie asymmetrically/ diagonally in a flat position. The only exception is when you're winter camping with a mummy sleeping pad, as it forces you to sleep in a mummy position.

But you will most likely use a sleeping pad during winter camping to help you lie comfortably. 

4. Use the Structural Ridgeline

Structural Ridgeline helps you create a perfect sag every time and get the best of your hammock sleep.

It stops the hammock from tightening too much or hanging too loose and also can hold your bug net, clothes, or any other additional accessories. Now, the Ridgeline should be around 83% of your hammock length.

For additional information on the hammock ridgeline, follow this link.

5. Use a Pillow

A pillow is always an excellent addition to your hammock bed, as it provides a little extra head and neck support and helps you find a comfortable position.

6. Make Yourself Warm

how to sleep in an eno hammock

A cold night in a hammock is every camper's nightmare. When you're out in nature, being active throughout the entire day, you need a good night's sleep to energize and be ready for the next day.

The common mistake people make when camping is not bringing a top quilt or a blanket. The truth is, even in summer, you will get cold in the night because of the air circulating under your back. Therefore, bring a camping blanket or a top quilt and make yourself cozy.

When it comes to winter camping, you will need all sorts of additional equipment. Underquilt is an absolute necessity, a sleeping bag as well, maybe some sleeping pad combined with a top quilt.

Here's a detailed video on how to keep yourself warm when camping in the winter.

First-hand Tips and Tricks

Experienced campers always have their piece of wisdom to share, so we included some unusual, but useful tips to hammock sleeping.

sleeping in a hammock bad for back
  • Never enter your hammock cold: When camping in the cold weather, this is of crucial importance. Once you enter a hammock cold, or god forbid wet, it will take forever to warm up. So the trick is to warm yourself up before you enter the hammock, so the insulation will trap the heat and warm you up over the night. You can do this by doing some jumping jacks or other exercises and changing into dry clothes. 
  • Invest in good equipment: From the hammock to the extra pillow, you need to have good stuff. Like with anything else, cheap products will never satisfy you and eventually will fail to serve their purpose. If you're seriously interested in camping, save some money to invest in a good hammock, proper insulation, and additional equipment. The must-have is a rip-stop camping hammock and an underquilt for any conditions. However, if you're considering camping in the winter, there's a lot more you're going to need. 

Final Word

As you can see, there's a lot of different opinions on hammocks and hammocks sleeping while the truth is very simple. It is important to learn how to use the hammock in the first place in order to get anything from it.

If you're a newbie, gather as much relevant information as you can before you even get close to a hammock and only then dare to go for hammock camping.

As for the hammock sleeping, it definitely is beneficial since the rocking motion helps you fall asleep faster and deeper. It can even be used as insomnia therapy due to brain synchrony it leads to.

Therefore, it is always nice to lie back in a hammock and swing your way to relaxation, especially when it can improve the functioning of your brain!

Leave a Comment