Summer is just around the corner and whether you are camping out in your backyard or enjoying a weekend at the cottage, lounging in a hammock seems like a picture-perfect way to unwind from daily stressors. But how good for your back or your sleep schedule is napping in a sling bed, swaying gently in the breeze?
Besides being tricky to get in or out of, researchers from Switzerland found that people who napped in a hammock rather than a stationary bed slept more soundly and woke up more refreshed. Although the study was small, hammocks are already employed in some hospitals to calm premature babies and help them breathe easier.
If you are someone who has difficulty sleeping, the gentle rocking motion of a hammock may help re-wire brain activity to achieve more restful and regular sleep. Rocking increased the length of N2 sleep which is a type of non-REM sleep among research subjects; it also increased bursts of brain activity called sleep spindles which are associated with calm sleep even in noisy environments. The benefits of hammock sleeping also have the potential to help stroke patients in their recovery or to treat sleep disorders.
What about that bad back of yours? If the hammock is very securely attached to trees or a stand and isn’t too loosely slung, many people with back pain find a hammock to be very comfortable, gently stretching tight muscles and helping to align the spine. But for others, it can be quite painful. If you have a back condition, it is best to talk with your doctor before investing in a hammock this summer. The ideal position for sleeping is on the back and for those who end up flipping over to the side or stomach while asleep, a hammock could be beneficial, forcing you to sleep on your back.
However you decide to enjoy the summer days, in a hammock or not, try to spend some time outside in nature to de-stress, take a break from the news and get lost in a good book, a hike through the woods or transplanting those seedlings into your veggie garden.