Get Comfortable! Learn How to Sleep in a Hammock Properly

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So you’ve got that brand new hammock but can’t seem to get comfortable in it aye?

Well you’ve come to the right place because here you’ll learn how to sleep in a hammock the right way.

1. Make sure your hammock is hung correctly

So what you’re after when you hang your hammock is the distance from one end of your hammock to the other while hung to equal 83% of the actual length.

This may seem a little counterintuitive to some people.

Because a tighter hammock is flatter which results in a flatter more comfortable lay right? Wrong.

In the image below the ridgeline is what you want to pay attention to. the angle of the ends of the hammock may vary depending on how far apart the trees are you’re tieing off to.

Image courtesy of Kenny on Flickr

2. Lay in the hammock on an angle

Now this is where the previous step starts to make sense.

When you lay in your hammock you want to be at approximately a 30 degree angle from to the centerline of the hammock.

Just think about it.

If you lay on the centerline you’re going to end up shaped like a banana and the banana positions doesn’t look very comfortable for humans.

But when you lay on an angle relative to the centerline you get a closer to the sweet spot.

Image Courtesy of The Ultimate Hang.

3. Cross your legs

Once you’re in position laying in your hammock cross your legs.

Why you ask.

Because this will force a slight bend in your knees so you avoid the dreaded banana position again.

Also this makes it much more comfortable, just try it you’ll understand once you do.

4. Put a wad of clothing, pillow or backpack under your knees

This adds to number three in that it forces even more of a bend in your knees.

I’m a taller guy with long legs so I try to always do this so I don’t hyperextend my knees from sleeping in the hammock for 8 or so hours.

If you’re shorter you probably don’t have to do this.

But great things come in small packages!

5. Optional: Make a fixed length ridgeline

A ridgeline is a piece of string that goes from one end of your hammock to another.

And a fixed length ridgeline is not adjustable.

So what’s this accomplish?

It makes it so whenever you set up your hammock you hit that 83% of your overall length every time you set it up.

So in other words every time you set up your hammock it feels the same way when you lay in it.

And it also keeps your bugnet off of your face which is great. Because nobody likes mosquito bites on their face.

6. Keep yourself warm

Now this is the most important step.

Whether you’re sleeping in your hammock outside and you have the wind blowing against your backside cooling you down.

Or you’re inside and you don’t have that big bed insulating your back.

You have to keep yourself warm somehow.

The best option is to simply use the equipment you already have. And if you’re a camper you already have a sleeping bag and a pad.

So you lay your pad in the hammock first, this will keep your back warm, and away from the wind.

Then you hop in the hammock with while holding your sleeping bag.

Finally you squirm into the sleeping bag.

This isn’t the most efficient process but it’s using the equipment you already have.

If you want efficiency then you want to get a top quilt and a bottom quilt.

They’re basically two halves to a sleeping bag but the bottom quilt you hang under the hammock usually with a suspension system of it’s own.


To recap we did these 5 things:

  1. Hammock end to end when hung is 83% of the actual length.
  2. Lay in the hammock on an angle relative to it’s centerline
  3. Crossed our legs to prevent hyperextension
  4. Put something under our knees to also prevent hyperextension
  5. Made a fixed length ridgeline to get a consistent lay
  6. Insulated ourselves from the cold wind

Now these aren’t rock solid rules, these are just what I’ve found works best for me. You should test all these things.

You might find that 80% works better.

Or that you sleep better in the beetle position in a hammock.

Maybe you find you don’t like hammocks at all so you go back to tents.

But like with most other things in life you have to test and see if it works for you. These are just good guidelines to start with.