Mention the word, hammock, and many North Americans think of a
rustic looking rope and wood torture device, guaranteed comfortable for all
of 5 minutes, if it doesn't dump you out first. Sleeping in a hammock such as
that would seem to be folly indeed. Yet worldwide, probably a 100 million or
more people use hammocks as their beds. Central and South America, the
Philippines and Asia all have millions of hammock users. In countries where
hammocks are used as beds, as you might imagine, sleeping hammocks employ very
different design and materials practices than those found in our
aforementioned outdoor hammock.
The advantages of using a hammock as a bed include, comfort, convenience and
portability. A properly hung sleeping hammock conforms to the contour of the
body, supporting it evenly on all sides, and creating no points of pressure
such as are found when sleeping on a bed. Hammock sleeping can be much more
restful than bed sleeping. Many people who toss and turn throughout the night
on a bed find that when they sleep in a hammock they wake up in the morning
in exactly the same position as when they went to sleep. The gentle swaying
of the hammock adds a lulling sense of comfort that also enhances the sleep
experience. The support of the hammock is particularly appreciated by back
pain sufferers who often find that the increased support of the hammock
results in a decreased pain and stiffness level. Of course, sleeping in a
hammock is not for everyone; but those who try it have an excellent chance of
discovering how good a night's sleep can be.
The best hammocks for sleeping are the sprang woven hammocks
and Nicaragua, and the Amazona cross woven style from Brazil and Colombia. The Mayan and Nicaraguan hammocks derive
their supportive nature from the thousands of tiny little cells that form at
the intersections of the strings, forming almost a cushion of air to support
the inhabitant. These hammocks also hold no body heat. While this creates a
sublime effect in the summer, winter hammock sleeping can become quite
drastic without a hammock sleeping bag or hammock pad beneath and comforter
above. Brazilian fabric styles are in
effect, soft hanging blankets, and as such sleep warmer than the Mayan styles.
But make no mistake about it, if you want to keep sleeping in hammock bliss,
bring your blanket!
For children I recommend Brazilian cotton hammocks. They are
easier to manage than the Mayan or Nicaraguan. You can pick them by whatever
cost and decor criteria you wish, as they all make comfortable beds. The
thicker, more durable ones increase in comfort with the passage of time, and
washings. Hanging space requirements vary from about 10-11 feet for the
Amazonas Naturalesa to 13 feet for the longer Brazilians. This hanging length
information is in the "get info" section of each hammock. After you
have browsed through our catalogue, I think you will find that the best
hammock for sleeping is the one that arrives shortly after you place your
order. Sweet Dreams!
The subject of hammocks as beds is wonderfully handled below by the irrepressible eulogist of God's own bed, James J. Bogan:
Many Reasons Why The Hammock Is Better Than The Bed
We have to fit ourselves to the grid of a bed,
but the hammock molds itself to our forms.
The bed, hardly a fellow traveler of our desires, squares off sleep; but the hammock collaborates in the movement of our dreams.
Now the bed requires us to take its manner, fixing us to itself,
and we look for repose in a succession of positions.
But the hammock takes on our individual shape and becomes one with our habits, answering individual form.
The bed is rigid, predetermined, and angular.
But the hammock is hospitable, comprehensive, and accommodating, ready to meet all the whims of our fatigue
and the unforeseen containment of our tranquility.
The old mother, the young wife.
When we find our spot in a hammock, our bodies correspond with ancestors beyond memory. Gravitationally inevitable, this congruence stretches back before the Fall, as Adam only took to his bed after the expulsion from Eden.
First cousin of the fisherman's net, the hammock holds our bodies and catches our dreams. Do you suppose the spider's web was its aboriginal inspiration, sometime back in the early Paleolithic?
The hammock is suspect in realms where the clock is preeminent, that is, in most of the so-called civilized world. The clock itself is threatened by the hammock because time disappears. Hours do not apply. It is best to think in more ample terms measured by sun and moon rather than the decimauled seconds of modern "chronometers." Afternoon, evening, night, morning are the human portions of the day--any one of which can be fulfilled in the hammock. It is the true enemy of hurry and foe of mindless agitation that demands constant change of scene. Even though the hammock was born in a primeval culture, it can still soothe the rattled body of modern life by reconciling the great contraries of movement and stillness.
The last topic I will cover on this page is the use of a hammock when certain medical conditions preclude the use of an ordinary bed. For this section I will bring in the contribution of Carol Moskowitz, RN:
Beds and Alternatives
Many alternatives are available for bedding for people with Huntington's disease. When the current bed becomes unsuitable, look to see what is wrong from the patient's perspective. If they are falling out of bed because of their chorea, look at hammocks or a floor bed. If clumsiness and trouble with balance is a problem, then a trapeze bar added to the bed frame, or a bed at the same height as a chair can be used to ease transfers. Remember to look for safe alternatives that can preserve the persons ability to move and that does not isolate them from their environment.
In Venezuela most everybody sleeps in a hammock, including those in the large Huntington's disease kindred's in the highlands. These are not the North American back yard hammocks that are so hard to sit in, but hammocks that completely enclose the person. Two, seven foot long by seven foot wide 100% cotton flat weave hammocks are what you should try to get. They will need to be secured to support beams by boat hooks. You will need a structural engineer or builder to help find the posts to secure the hooks to. Most nursing homes of Veteran's Administration hospitals (VA) will give you one chance to get it right.