Five Tips for Restful Hammock Sleep

Maybe you’ve accidentally fallen asleep in a hammock and woken with a stiff neck. Or you’re planning a camping trip and want to be assured of a good night’s sleep. While a little unfamiliar to most North Americans, millions of people around the world choose to sleep in a hammock every night.

I spent months sleeping in hammocks while wandering Central America seeking the perfect waves or lounging on my porch in my former Caribbean home of the US Virgin Islands. May have missed out on a lot of snow storms and morning commutes while living the beach bum life for more than a decade, but I did pick up some wonderful tips on catching great z’s while sleeping in a hammock.

Hang the hammock properly

This isn’t rocket science but is actually really important. You don’t want the hammock to be too tight. If unsure, err on the side of too loose. You want plenty of curve in the hammock. Remember this isn’t a bed and you don’t sleep in it like a bed. We’ll get rid of that curvature in a minute.


Before you settle in for the night, get your accessories. To sleep well in a hammock, I suggest adding a pillow (or clothing-stuffed sack if camping), blanket or sleeping bag, and socks, long underwear and base layer (even in warm climates). You will want a blanket large enough to wrap your body.

Angle in

If this is your first time sleeping in a hammock, you will likely try to lay parallel to the hanging bed. This is wrong. For the most comfortable position you want to start out diagonally, with your feet and head pressing out to expand the hammock. See how much space that creates? Many Central American hammocks can accommodate three or four people when spread out!

Wrap up

The hammock is wonderful in the tropics because it provides such great air circulation. This can mean for a cool night sleeping that can turn cold without a little wrap in the blanket. Wrapping up also protects the skin from abrasion from string hammocks and keeps mosquitos away

Chill out

Now that you’re wrapped and starting to relax, take a moment to get really settled in. Push your feet out, move around a little bit. Position the pillow for maximum comfort. You want to settle in, not just crash in your first pose. Soon you will find yourself drifting off dreaming of surf and beaches.