As summer comes a scorching in here in the northern hemisphere, people hope to find a bit of relaxation in a hammock! And why not?! What could be nicer than drowsing in comfort on a lazy afternoon? When selecting a hammock, particularly for outdoor use, the materials used play a significant role in comfort and durability. The original hammocks were made from tree fibers and supported by woven branches. But a lot has changed since then. Unless you are on a Discovery Channel episode let’s leave the bark of trees for another time, and get to business on what is best for your modern day hammock.
Cotton is almost universally agreed to produce the most comfortable hammocks. It is strong, soft, breathable, and just plain giving. In Mayan and Nicaraguan hammocks, cotton is used in the form of string or cords to make comfortable open weave hammocks. In Brazilian hammocks it is cross woven into canvas. While cotton resists sun degradation quite nicely, being an organic product, it is susceptible to mildew and mold which will weaken its fibers and cause it to rot, if not kept dry.
Polyester is a man made fiber used in a wide range of hammocks. Like cotton, it is generally soft and comfortable, and very strong. Being non organic in origin it is not subject to mildew, and is often a great choice for the outdoors in wetter condition. It tends to stiffen after a few seasons in the UV radiation of old Sol.
Polypropylene is surprisingly common in the Mexican style of hammock where it is referred to as nylon. It is extremely strong, excellent for jungle use and humid climates. It won’t mildew, and is long lasting in the shade. Under high UV it can deteriorate quickly. It forms a harder, stiffer bed than cotton or polyester.
Nylon, true nylon, is a superb hammock material for the great outdoors. It is also quite expensive. It combines the strength of polypropylene with the comfort of cotton and a silky feel of its own. It also exhibits a strong disregard for UV radiation. It is principally found in high end Mayan hammocks such as the Tommy Hamaca Nylon Crochet XXG, which is, in our experience, the finest outdoor hammock available.
Durasol cording made in Mexico also makes a good long lasting out door hammock. To view the best selection of All Weather hammocks on the internet, visit our All Weather Hammock section.
Since threads make the bed, pick materials that work best for your blend of comfort, wear, and longevity.
We are posting below an article containing interesting results on the relationship between rocking and sleep in a short nap. Another reason to nap in the hammock:
waves during a
Stephen Perrig2, Julie Vienne3,
Pierre-Paul Vidal4, Michel Mühlethaler1*
and Sophie Schwartz1,5*
Why do we cradle babies or irresistibly
fall asleep in a hammock? Although
such simple behaviors are common
across cultures and generations, the
nature of the link between rocking
and sleep is poorly understood [1,2].
Here we aimed to demonstrate that
swinging can modulate physiological
parameters of human sleep. To
this end, we chose to study sleep
during an afternoon nap using
polysomnography and EEG spectral
analyses. We show that lying on a
slowly rocking bed (0.25 Hz) facilitates
the transition from waking to sleep,
and increases the duration of stage
N2 sleep. Rocking also induces a
sustained boosting of slow oscillations
and spindle activity. It is proposed
that sensory stimulation associated
with a swinging motion exerts a
synchronizing action in the brain that
reinforces endogenous sleep rhythms.
These results thus provide scientific
support to the traditional belief that
rocking can soothe our sleep.
In the present study, we asked
twelve healthy male volunteers (22–38
years old) to nap on a bed that could
either remain stationary or rock gently
(0.25 Hz; Figure 1A). All participants
were good sleepers, non-habitual
nappers with no excessive daytime
sleepiness and had low anxiety
levels. Sleep quality and quantity
were assessed by questionnaires
and actimetry recordings. The
experimental procedure involved
taking two 45-minute afternoon naps
(2:30 to 3:15 PM): one with the bed
stationary, and one with the bed put in
motion (condition order randomized).
The motion parameters were set to
stimulate vestibular and proprioceptive
sensory systems, without causing
nausea or any entrainment of cardiac
rhythm. In both conditions the naps
were spent in complete darkness in a
controlled room temperature (21 ± 1°C)
and the level of auditory stimulation
was around 37 dB. During both
sessions, polysomnography data were
recorded continuously. Sleep stages
and sleep spindles were visually
identified by two experienced scorers,
blind to the experimental conditions.
We also performed spectral analysis
(FFT routine) using the midline frontal
(Fz) and parietal (Pz) derivations.
The data from two participants were
excluded from the final analyses (see
the Supplemental Information).
Over the three consecutive nights
preceding each experimental day, all
participants had a good quality and
quantity (mean ± s.e.m.; 7.32 ± 0.78 h)
of sleep as assessed by self-rated
sleep questionnaires, with no difference
for these measurements between
stationary and swinging conditions.
Similarly, wrist actimetry recorded
during these same nights did not
show any difference in sleep efficiency
between conditions (mean ± s.e.m.;
swinging: 86.63 ± 1.95%; stationary:
86.71 ± 1.23%). For both conditions,
participants were more alert (on
visual analogue scale) after napping
than before (F(1,9) = 8.4, P = 0.018).
Eight participants rated the swinging
condition as ‘more pleasant’ than the
stationary condition; for one participant
both sessions were equally pleasant
and for one participant the stationary
condition was more pleasant.
We found that rocking accelerated
sleep onset, as evidenced by a
shorter duration of stage N1 sleep
and a reduction of stage N2 latency,
compared to the stationary condition
(Supplemental Table S1). Rocking
also affected deeper sleep stages by
increasing the duration of stage N2
sleep and the mean spindle density per
30-s epoch (Supplemental Table S1,
Figure 1B). Spindle density increased
significantly from the second half of
the nap (Figure 1C) and persisted
throughout the entire duration of stage
N2 (Supplemental Figure S1A). All
these modifications were observed in
each and every participant (all
P < 0.009; Supplemental Table
S1). In the only previous study
investigating the effect of rocking
on sleep, Woodward et al.  found
no consistent modulation for the
percentage of stage 1 sleep and an
overall reduction of the percentage
of stage 2 sleep during the motion
condition. In contrast to our present
study, however, these data were
computed over whole nights of sleep
recordings, and did not address
the question of whether vestibular/
somatosensory inputs influence the
transition from wakefulness to sleep
(stage 1 and 2 sleep early in the night
after sleep onset).
Rocking also increased EEG power
of slow wave activity (SWA: 0.6–5 Hz;
Figure 1D), predominantly during the
last third of stage N2 (Supplemental
Figure S1B; P < 0 .005). A significant
increase of EEG power within spindle
frequency bands was also observed
for the frontal derivation (P < 0.05;
Figure1D and Supplemental Figure
S1C), but not for the parietal derivation
(P > 0.07; Supplemental Results) .
Together these results show that
rocking induces a speeded transition
to an unambiguous sleep state, and
may enhance sleep by boosting slow
oscillations and spindle activity.
How can we explain that rocking
may accelerate wake-sleep transition
and promote sleep consolidation?
Three mechanisms could explain
these effects of rocking on sleep. First,
pathways have anatomical links with
structures implicated in emotions
such as the amygdala  and
because the amygdala affects the
regulation of sleep-wake states ,
faster sleep onset could be due to
a ‘relaxing’ feeling associated with
the rocking condition, which most of
our participants (8 out of 10) found
pleasant. Second, rhythmic vestibular/
somatosensory inputs associated with
rocking may modulate sleep-wake
centres via direct or indirect
connections between sensory systems
and hypothalamic  or brainstem
areas . Third, sensory inputs could
affect the synchrony of neural activity
within thalamo-cortical networks
because both somatosensory
and vestibular inputs send direct
projections to thalamic nuclei .
Consistent with this view, slow rhythmic
cortical stimulation was recently found
to increase EEG slow oscillations and
spindles [3,9], which are both hallmarks
of deep sleep. The latter hypothesis
of an influence on neural synchrony
fits best the present observation that
rocking does not only facilitate sleep
onset but has a persistent effect on
brain oscillations and spindles. Recent
evidence that increased spindle activity
protects sleep against disruptive stimuli
is in agreement with this interpretation
. Follow-up experiments could
assess whether sleep changes
triggered by rocking have beneficial
functional consequences on
post-sleep performance or on memory
consolidation processes .
We suggest that rhythmic rocking
may enhance synchronous activity
within thalamo-cortical networks,
which in turn could promote the onset
of sleep and its maintenance. The use
of rocking to soothe sleep thus belongs
to our repertoire of adaptive behaviours
in which a natural mechanism of sleep
(thalamo-cortical synchronization) has
been harnessed in the simplest manner
since immemorial times.
Supplemental Information includes one
figure, one table, Supplemental Results and
Supplemental Experimental Procedures,
and can be found with this article online at
This work was supported by the Swiss
National Science Foundation. We thank
A. Borbély, P. Franken, C. Frith, B.E. Jones,
C. Leonard, and M. Tafti for their comments.
1. Woodward, S., Tauber, E.S., Spielmann, A.J., and
Thorpy, M.J. (1990). Effects of otolithic vestibular
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2. Krystal, A.D., Zammit, G.K., Wyatt, J.K., Quan,
S.F., Edinger, J.D., White, D.P., Chiacchierini,
R.P., and Malhotra, A. (2010). The effect of
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3. Marshall, L., Helgadottir, H., Molle, M., and
Born, J. (2006). Boosting slow oscillations
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In Reviews of Physiology: Biochemistry and
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1Department of Neuroscience, University
of Geneva, Switzerland. 2Sleep Laboratory,
Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland.
3CIG, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
4CNRS, UMR 8194-Université Paris
Descartes, France. 5Swiss Center for
Affective Sciences, University of Geneva,
*These authors contributed equally to the
Although Seaside Hammocks makes available a wide variety of hammocks to the public, our specialty has always been the hand crafted hammocks of the Americas. Specifically, we love to work with the Mayan craftspeople of the Yucatan. We began simply by buying the hammocks and exporting them to America where we stocked them in our store and warehouse for sale to the local public and to the world via the internet. As time went by we saw the need and opportunity to meet new criteria of quality in materials and workmanship. While holding fast to the marvelous traditional weaving styles we bring updated modern materials such as mercerized cotton and dos elephantes true nylon cording, as well as pure polyester to create hammocks at the very pinnacle of quality and versatility, useful in a wide range of environments. Our successes have included the Tommy Hamaca line of mercerized cotton and nylon support hammocks which are many times stronger and more environmentally friendly and resistant to the weather than any other cotton hammock in our experience. For outside use we also developed the amazing Tommy Hamaca XX Nylon crochet which offers superb tactile pleasure and 5-10 year life expectancy in severe weather conditions.
But it is not just about the hammocks. It is also about the Maya people and their traditional culture. This culture has been under attack since the arrival of the Spaniards 500 years ago. Although the missionaries did their best to convert the Maya, the old Maya traditions still are strong, even among Mayan Christians. The weaving of the Mayan hammock is a strong and ancient tradition, but like the culture itself, it is under relentless attack by the modern world. In the poorer villages life remains traditional, but prosperity in the larger villages has brought television and internet exposure which is even now having a profound effect on the children. In one large Mayan village fully half of the working age men live in a certain town in Oregon, as (primarily) illegal immigrants. For a young Mayan it is possible over a two or three year period of 14 hour days at low wages, to send enough money back to the village to have a house built.
In the villages, other than opening a Tienda (shop) or raising cattle there is little gainful employment outside the hammock trade. Seaside Hammocks supports these villages with our business and by using Fair Trade practices to improve the life of the villagers. All Tommy Hamaca brand Mayan hammocks and 85% of our unbranded hammocks are Fair Trade certified.
When you purchase a Mayan hammock from Seaside Hammocks you are buying far more than just the world’s most comfortable hammock. You are supporting the hundreds of families that depend on us to help preserve the traditional Maya way of life.
Seaside Hammocks has been working for many years to help bring prosperity to the Maya people who weave our beautiful hammocks. Like traditional cultures throughout the world this culture is under constant pressure from the stress of poverty and the loss of youth to urban areas. It is fragile. We are, therefore, really pleased to announce that all of our Tommy Hamaca brand products are certified as Fair Traded.
One of Seaside Hammocks’ long time friends is a sea going bon vivant named Rob Whitehurst. He has loved hammocks since doing tug boat duty in Viet Nam, lo these many years hence. I would refer to him as the Ancient Mariner, except that as we are almost the same age, I am not sure what category that would put me in. Anyway, to get to the point, Rob recently completed a hammock made of barrel staves. I think the most time consuming part of the project was drinking the contents of the barrel. He does plan another one, and already has the barrel staves ready. This is the pictorial account, with one comment from Rob: “I used nylon to lace the thing but think that I will go with Dacron for the next one. There will only be one “next” one, for me, and I already have the barrel staves for it. ”
And a much deserved rest after a job well done! If you have questions about the barrel stave hammock, let us know and we will forward them to the Captain!
The ancient history of the Maya people and the making of hammocks has been covered in our website, and elsewhere, so that this once arcane piece of history has been ardently publicized over the internet. In this blog I will be covering in text and pictures my latest trip to the hamaca holy land. These trips generally begin after a flight from one’s homeland to the airport in Cancun. From there, the amazing ADO buses (freezers on wheels) bring you across the Yucatan to Merida, the ancient and modern capitol city of the Maya. Over 60% of the population is of Mayan descent, a fact that is celebrated in a seemingly endless cycle of festivals and celebrations of the Mayan culture. The city hosts amazing art galleries, and the oldest cathedral on mainland North America. Opposite this cathedral is the the most important square of the many throughout the city. The cathedral itself was built on the foundations of ancient Maya temples.
This is the center square across from the Cathedral, site of many Maya festivals, one such festival being announced by the main door.
Inside the cathedral the architecture incorporates structural elements from the Maya temples in the stone foundations and the bases of the columns. The beautiful marble work utilizes the best of Italian marble.
It is doubtful that the majority of users of Mayan hammocks have any idea of what an amazing process the making of a hammock is. These next posts and photos will be an effort to bring some of this to light. When I look at our shelves of hundreds of hammocks in all colors of the rainbow and beyond, they may appear as simple artifacts, as I suppose they are. But let me transport you to the village into the home of Noemi Colli Chilam from the village of Chican. She is 43 years old, married with two children and has been weaving hammocks for our company for ten years. The cottage is surrounded by vegetable garden and a few chickens and a small number of farm animals. Like many of our weavers she makes hammocks to bring in extra income for her family. Her bastidore is set up outside now in the coolness of fall. When she is not weaving she will be cooking for her family on the ubiquitous wood burning stoves of the region, which impart that faint smokey aroma to the cotton hammocks.