Hammock Instead of a Bed: Unique Sleeping Concepts & Tips


I have seven hammocks between the house and the farm here in Thailand and one at home in Nova Scotia and I love them. I am a flip-flopper sleeper which makes it challenging for me to make it through the entire night. But when I nap in one it is the best!

I am going home soon and I am going to try sleeping in a hammock instead for a few months while the weather is great. I love sleeping outside as my Cuba trips friends know well haha.

A hammock instead of a bed is more comfortable, forces one to sleep on their back, improves health and quality of sleep. They also take very little space compared to a bed and they are much cheaper. They can easily be removed and installed outside, taken camping, and hiking which saves money.

Snoozing with a beer in a double nylon hammock. I am a little too big for this model!

Sailboat Swinging

It is easy to set one or two up on a sailboat inside or on deck. This is perfect for taking some of the ocean motion out of your bed as sailors learned this trick eons ago.

Sleeping in a Hammock in a Bedroom

Using it in the house is a minimalist cheap solution for a bed that can be used in multiple locations. Sleep in the bedroom at night and then bring it to the backyard, sunroom, or living room. Save money by using it as a sofa and for a bed for camping.

The next video shows the entire process from purchasing hooks to installing the hammock.

This guy is commfortable without a “normal” bed

Hammock Bed with a Stand

Below is a video by a 40-year-old man who slept in his for one year and he shares his experience. He uses a store-bought hammock stand rather than attaching it to the walls. I see some dummies attaching them to the ceiling. This is ok if you want your toes in your mouth all night, but I am not this flexible.

Living in a Hammock in a Van

Using one in a van saves a substantial amount of space in the van, can be can put away during the day, reduce the weight of the van over a mattress and wood bed frame. They can also be used outdoors attached to trees during suitable weather to save more space as chairs are not required,

I have been a huge fan of van life and had planned to spend the winters driving from Nova Scotia to the US southwest.

I even bought mining rights to twenty acres in Arizona to kill time looking for gold.

My plans changed and I am spending winters in Thailand, but I still hope to do this trip once per year, but maybe only for a month or two each year.

This is a recent upgrade. The last one was falling apart. $7 USD

Anyway, the biggest challenge is having a bed taking up a lot of space in the van. I had a van, but I also used it for working out of so it had shelves on each side. This limited the available space for living in poor weather.

So if I am lucky enough to make annual van life trips to the US I am going to take a couple along with me and give it a try.

Even if I hang one in the van I can put them away during the day and they take up very little space compared to a bed.

The below couple seems to make a go of it.

Do You Need a Pillow?

You do not need a pillow n a hammock but some people find it more comfortable with a thin pillow. Large puffy pillows raise the head too much causing discomfort. Side sleepers may also be comfortable with a body or leg and hip pillow.

Pillows don’t like to stay put in some hammocks especially nylon ones. They slide around and often fall out and land on the ground, which really sucks when it is wet, muddy, or a river or lake under the hammock.

TIP: Buy a double nylon one and place the pillow in between the layers and it will stay in place.

Add Velcro tape to the hammock where you want the pillow to stay. Add the mating piece of Velcro to the pillow and it and you won’t need a canoe to retrieve your pillow.

Be careful to not flip the pillow over while you are sleeping as you will wake up with a serious Velcro rash on your face.

Do You Need a Sleeping Pad?

Sleeping pads are not necessary but can improve comfort in situations such as:

  • Cheap hammocks with large gaps are much more comfortable with a sleeping pad. I will try to find a picture of my back after I was snoozing shirtless in one of these. It looked like I was caught and hung up in a fishnet for days haha.
  • Cool-weather sleeping. A sleeping pad between you and the material helps to keep your backside toasty. But this method also crushes the pad which reduces the insulation effectiveness.

    The pad also moves around and in the morning you may find the entire pad at your feet.

    A more efficient method is to purchase a double nylon model where you can slide a pad into. This also keeps the pad in place.
  • Bugville. If there are mugs biting your butt while sleeping you need a sleeping pad to protect your derriere. Obviously you will also want a blanket or a one with a built-in net to protect the rest of your body from the flying demons.
  • You prefer a softer bed that you can sink into, of only slightly. If this is you a 1″ or 2″ foam mattress topper may make the bed more comfortable.
Scott enjoying the coolest location at the house

What is the Proper Way to Lie in a Hammock

The proper way to lie in one is to have feet to one side and head to the opposite side. This reduces the amount the midsection of the body dips to form a horseshoe shape. With feet and head on opposite sides, the body is more straight, which is more comfortable for most people.

Backpacking with Hammock Instead of Tent

Backpack with a hammock instead of a tent is becoming a popular option over bed pad and sleeping bag. The 2,190 mile (3,524 km) Appalachian Trail website states

“Backpacking hammocks have emerged as another increasingly popular option for camping overnight in the backcountry.

In theory, these can offer more flexibility in choosing a site and can be low-impact in areas where dispersed camping is allowed”

Appilation Trail Concervency

TIP: Check out a great resource for hammock camping The Swing of It by Jeffrey L. Marion. You can read it on the Appalachian Trail website here.

Darwin has a great video about why he does not use a one when hiking and you can check out his thumbs down option in the video below.

An interesting video comparing hiking with a hammock to ground sleeping. Very educational and worth the time to watch.

Staying Dry in Rain

The below video says it all. I have nothing to add to it, so if you expect to encounter rain while camping in one instead of a bed in a tent then check it out. Very informative and useful.

Winter Camping on the Ground

Using one in winter is possible assuming you are not in Alaska or Isle of Skye. They are comfortable in moderately cold winter with a thick and well-insulated pad, preferable in between layers of a double nylon mattress, a sleeping bag, a hoodie, and a blanket draped over bug netting.

Homemade net hammock is very comfortable, but too close to the ground now for me to get out!!

Dealing with Bugs

There are two effective methods to protect against bugs including purchasing a one with a built-in bug netting and purchasing a large canopy bug netting.

For a budget bug net to keep the skeeters out of the swinging house then the next video is for you.

I have is similar to the below model. It is great with a bug net built-in but it does have some negatives. Mantis explains the pros and cons well so I will not waste my time writing the same information.

Hammock in Water

Hammocks that are installed to allow the midsection of the snoozer’s body to dip into the river, lake, or pool is a very relaxing and cool experience. Reading a book or surfing the Internet on a cell phone may end in disaster so this is a setup for truly zoning out and relaxing or sleeping.

TIP: If installing in a river or lake I recommend removing sharp rocks, broken glass, and sticks, and roots from the river or lake bed.

My father was enjoying my hammock on the edge of the Shubenacadie River when the hammock broke and he fell.

There were several small tree cutoffs sticking straight up out of the ground about 1″ in diameter. He that he just missed being impaled so this is how I learned this lesson.

My article here can save you a lot of money on a DIY bed frame project.

If you need to move a mattress I have some tips to make your life much easier in my article here.

Scott Boyd

A semi-retired workaholic in Thailand is a challenge. It is too hot to keep building adobe and earthbag buildings so a new project was needed. I became interested in bed frames after purchasing a bamboo bed frame from a local supplier here and I learned there is little information about them on the Internet. So now I spend my days researching, testing, and reporting my findings to help others while having an occasional beer and istening to 60s and 70s B side rock, blues, and much more.

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