I used to think that hammocks were just for hanging outside and relaxing when you happen to have some free time. Little did I know that there are specific reasons why we almost instantaneously chill out and de-stress simply by sitting in them. And that they could actually be good for our health.
Actually, if you think about it, the instant relaxation we experience makes a lot of sense. The simple rocking motion induces sleep – just like we rock a baby’s cradle.
What are the Side Effects of a Bad Night’s Sleep?
Have you have ever had to deal with insomnia or a bad night’s sleep? Then, you already know that it can have a big impact on how you feel throughout the next day. It can affect your mood, your ability to think clearly, increase stress levels and even slow down your metabolism.
If that wasn’t enough, poor sleep leads to decreased insulin sensitivity and an increase in hunger and appetite. This is a recipe for disaster, and evidence from controlled lab studies shows that chronic lack of sleep may increase the risk of obesity and weight gain, according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
Lack of sleep due to poor sleep quality is not a rare problem, either. The National Institutes of Health states that adults should get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. However, according to the National Health Interview Survey, 30% of adults reported getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night during 2005-2007. [Source]
I mean, look at the popularity of sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta – and even herbal remedies like Melatonin. If these medications are used regularly, they are not cheap. Nor are mattresses created with special cushioning, sculpting and coil design. You could spend a ton of money and STILL not solve your sleeping problem.
What Happens to People Who Nap in Hammocks?
WebMD shares a study done at the University of Geneva in Switzerland where participants were instructed to take naps while their brain activity was monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG). Some people napped in hammocks, while others napped on regular bed mattresses.
Interestingly, the researchers found that not only did the people napping in the rocking hammocks fall asleep faster, but they also experienced increased activity in their brains having to do with deep sleep and memory consolidation.
AND better quality sleep in hammocks.
At first glance, it looks like there are 2 benefits:
 more sleep and  better sleep.
However, let’s take a closer look using the data from the medical research noted above. The improved sleep that a person can get from sleeping in a hammock instead of a bed offers LOTS of benefits:
1. Can Increase Metabolism: A good night’s sleep has shown that people are able to burn more calories throughout the day. Therefore, you can reduce the risk of obesity and weight gain. Ever think about sleeping in an extra hour instead of going to the gym? Just saying…
2. Can Decrease Hunger & Appetite: I used to think that I was eating more food simply because I was awake more hours of the day so I had more time to eat. However, after testing this sleep hypothesis for myself, I realized that the more I slept, the less hungry I was.
3. Can Enhance Brain Function: This one’s pretty obvious. If your brain is well-rested, it has the ability to think better, have more focus and work more productively.
4. Can Decrease Stress: A lower stress level can simultaneously help improve one’s mood and, not surprisingly, make it easier to fall asleep the following night. Not to mention evening cortisol levels are shown to be lower (a good thing).
5. Can Increase Insulin Sensitivity: This decreases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and therefore improves overall health. In today’s society where Type 2 Diabetes is quickly becoming an epidemic, I think improving sleep should be as much of a focus as diet and exercise.
6. May Help Ease Back Pain: There are many different types of back pain caused by a variety of issues. Therefore, I can’t state that this will work for everyone. However, you can read first-hand user experience here. I can also testify to my own experience. Sleeping on a hammock helped relieve my chronic lower back pain due to poor posture, running and over-training.