If you’ve ever experienced a poor night’s sleep in the woods, then you know how devastating it can be to your wilderness experience. You’ll feel sluggish, achy, and slow while hiking. You’ll fatigue more easily. You’ll be less alert, less happy, and less present. So what can be done about this? We recommend hammock camping to encourage better sleep! Many studies have been done on the positive impact that hammocks have on quality of sleep, and in this article, we’ll be contrasting that against the degraded sleep many people experience while tent camping.
So what is it about tents that can make sleep challenging to come by in comparison to hammock camping? First and foremost, sleeping pads! Most foam, and air mattresses aren’t cushioned enough to fully eliminate pressure points. This can create a gentle, dull ache on one’s shoulder, hips, butt, or upper back where body contacts pad. As a side sleeper, I sometimes wake up to discover that my arm has gone numb. This happens as gravity pulls the weight of my torso onto my shoulder, pressing it against the taught inflatable sleeping pad, the pressure of which reduces circulation.
Over the course of a night, these minor discomforts can disrupt deep sleep cycles as you wake up to roll over or shift positions. Conversely, a good hammock camping experience will wrap around you, distributing your body weight evenly and eliminating pressure points altogether.
But pressure points aside, there’s a whole slew of environmental considerations that also favor hammock sleeping. Hammocks force people to separate and space out. While there’s something to be said about snuggling, this forced separation does actually improve sleep. You won’t awaken suddenly to your partner rolling over and crinkling a noisy inflatable pad. Without a tentmate getting up in the middle of the night to relieve themselves, you won’t be subjected to the sounds of them zipping and unzipping the fly, or accidentally nudging you awake.
Compared to tents, hammock camping also handle extreme temperatures better, which also encourages better quality of sleep. In the high heat of summer, a hammock will feel airier and less sweaty than a tent. Heat won’t be captured and held in a poorly ventilated dome, nor will you face the sweaty discomfort of bare skin directly contacting a plasticky sleeping pad. On the opposite end of the thermometer, in extreme cold, you will enjoy more warmth beneath you because a good underquilt is more insulative than a sleeping pad. Managing temperature is an important pillar of good sleep in the backcountry.
Lastly, in addition to being pleasant and comfy, the way in which hammocks gently rock or sway also benefits sleep! In a 2011 article published on NPR, Why Hammocks Make Sleep Easier, Deeper, the author writes, “The gentle rocking motion makes people fall asleep faster, and they sleep deeper.” The study they reported on also found that, “Rocking increased the length of N2 sleep, a form of non-REM sleep that takes up about half of a good night’s rest.” Additionally our WanderLuxe complete hammock sleep system was put to the test by outdoor gear guru Adventure Alan, winning his best sleep score ever! Read the full review hear to learn how this hammock system helped him score a better nights sleep in the woods than at home in his bed.
Hammock camping encourages better sleep, and improved sleep makes you a happier camper, hiker, and human being. At Hammock Gear, we make an assortment of premium hammocks to use wherever rest is desired. Shop hammocks today and enjoy good quality sleep and sweet dreams on your next excursion.