Camp with a Hammock to Catch More Zzz’s

Those wacky Swiss scientists, they’ve done it again – another great discovery.

According to a new study by scientists in Switzerland, people sleep better in hammocks, as opposed to traditional beds, due to a hammock’s rocking motion.

When I read about this on MSNBC.com, my first reaction was, “Geez, why didn’t I become a Swiss scientist? They’re always discovering the coolest, most freaky stuff.”

According to MSNBC, the scientists asked 12 participants ages 22 to 38 to nap for 45 minutes in an “experimental hammock,” which was really a custom bed that swayed side to side.

The Swiss researchers monitored brain waves of the volunteers as they napped, and compared the results to the same participants’ brain waves as they slept in the same bed without it rocking.

The swinging motion made all the difference, according to Sophie Schwartz, the lead author of the study and a neuroscientist at the Sleep and Cognition Neuroimaging Lab at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. She told MSNBC, “We observed a faster transition to sleep in each and every participant in the swinging condition. Not only does rocking make us fall asleep more quickly, but it also makes people sleep more deeply throughout the nap.”

While Swiss scientists are just now learning the benefits of sleeping in a hammock, plenty of backpackers and campers have already gotten into the swing of using them. There’s been a steady increase in sales of hammocks from manufacturers such as Hennessy Hammock and ENO (Eagles Nest Outfitters).

“We’ve seen growth double each year for the past three years,” says Bobby Jackson, sales manager for hammock maker Eno.

The hammocks are particularly popular among younger people who are more willing to experiment with alternative sleep systems, and lean toward lightweight products. Hammocks are quickly becoming a favorite of Boy Scouts.

“They’re very popular because of the weight issue,” says Shelly O’Neill, manager of the Tooth of Time Traders outdoor store near the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

While the idea of camping in a hammock isn’t so new after all – we found a 100-year-old watercolor image of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, crashed out in a hammock on the Hennessy Hammock web site – science is definitely supporting that we’ll get a good night’s sleep.

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