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  1. #1

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    Late discoveries about side sleeping and lay direction preference

    Iíve slept full-time in hammocks since 2013. Surprisingly, i still seem to be learning some basic stuff.

    One is how to side sleep in a gathered end. Iím still predominantly a back sleeper, but only recently have gotten comfortable for longer periods on my side. At the risk of stating the obvious to some, the key is to find the flat line. If you just roll over from your back onto your side, itís likely that your hips will feel ill supported, too low. So push your butt rearward ďup the wallĒ until it finds a good level.

    Sort of how a trail can cross a canyon between ridges without losing elevation by following the slope along the walls, so your body can find a level lay by staying out of the low middle of the hammock. Again this is maybe real obvious, but how come it took me so long to figure out? Donít answer.

    The other thing Iíve learned is that lay direction preference is almost wholly habit, at least for me. I thought for years that I was a head-left, feet-right guy, as immutably as Iím right handed. It turns out though that hanging my hammock along a different wall makes it easier for me to lay the other way, and after about 2 weeks itís as if Iíve always laid this way. Iím sure i could go back with practice. Habit, not physiology.

  2. #2
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    What you say about "Push your butt rearward, 'up the wall'" is, if I'm understanding correctly, achieved by having the foot end of the hammock higher. IIRC, the theory is that this is because most of our body mass is located above the waist, and having the foot higher compensates for the tendency to slide toward the middle.

    I am also right handed and early on read about the general preference for head left/feet right but I immediately had, and maintain, a very strong preference for head right/feet left. For me, the other way just feels not right... not right at all!
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

    Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. Leo Babauta

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    What you say about "Push your butt rearward, 'up the wall'" is, if I'm understanding correctly, achieved by having the foot end of the hammock higher. IIRC, the theory is that this is because most of our body mass is located above the waist, and having the foot higher compensates for the tendency to slide toward the middle.

    I am also right handed and early on read about the general preference for head left/feet right but I immediately had, and maintain, a very strong preference for head right/feet left. For me, the other way just feels not right... not right at all!
    I'm guessing he means stick your butt out behind you, so that it's supported slightly up the side of the hammock. That, and with my knees slightly forward, is how I've always slept on my side, and I've never had an issue side-sleeping in a gathered end hammock.

  4. #4
    oldgringo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    What you say about "Push your butt rearward, 'up the wall'" is, if I'm understanding correctly, achieved by having the foot end of the hammock higher. IIRC, the theory is that this is because most of our body mass is located above the waist, and having the foot higher compensates for the tendency to slide toward the middle.

    I am also right handed and early on read about the general preference for head left/feet right but I immediately had, and maintain, a very strong preference for head right/feet left. For me, the other way just feels not right... not right at all!
    I've noticed when I fall asleep in my recliner, I always end up slightly head right. It's more than a choice; our bodies are not perfectly symmetrical.
    Dave

    "I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults". Molly Ivins

  5. #5
    Senior Member jeff-oh's Avatar
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    I also find the shelf created by the very edge of the hammock fabric can make a nice pillow. As for head/ foot one way or the other I switch throughout the night as I move from sleeping on my right side to my left side.

  6. #6

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    I mean pushing butt out toward the side of the hammock, where the fabric is tighter, for more support. Not just butt out: adjust your whole body along the hammock to find the right level of support for each part. I also always hang the foot end well higher, but that’s unrelated.

    Re bodies being asymmetric accounting for lay direction preference, i used to believe that too because i have scoliosis. But i no longer believe it. If you switch to the “wrong” side and stick with it, it will become the new normal, is my experience.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cabmanhang's Avatar
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    I love a good flip-flop-sideways-lay night of sleep. Ten hours of back and forth and deep slumber. Throw a little back lay and some taco in there for fun.

    The pillow effect is nice when laying on the side. I find it to be comfortable when trying to stay fully in the hammock and have conversation with the camp. A good sideways lay and the little shelf created by fabric supports the head.

    In my wide fabric hammocks I try to recreate that shelf when on a diagonal on my back and it makes a great little shelf to hold my elbow.

  8. #8

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    Another option besides the "stick out your butt" technique is to tuck a small, elongated pillow or a folded fleece blanket behind you as you assume the side-sleep position. No need to stick out your butt, but has the same effect.
    The game is the best teacher.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Crazytown3's Avatar
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    Sometimes I sleep best laying on my left side. I usually just wiggle around until it feels right. My head usually ends up close to the left edge of the hammock, and my feet/butt somewhere just to the right of middle.

    My only issues with side-lay in a gathered end hammock are.........none! It works great.

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