Disclaimer: The main piece of advice in this post has been entirely concocted by me. I have not seen this advice anywhere else in this or any other forum, blog, article, etc. Therefore, it may be one man’s experience and may not apply to the general population.
Here is the executive summary:
Before fully committing to the hammock experience for hiking and camping, you should setup a hammock inside your home or patio. Sleep there every night for two weeks, and at the end of that time you should know if you will be comfortable using a hammock for hiking and camping.
It is crucial that you use a comfortable pillow. After spending too many nights not completely comfortable while sleeping on a hammock, I finally switched my very small hiking pillow (7x2x2) for a real pillow. The difference was night and day, and now I hang full-time, and even got rid of my comfy queen-size bed. The key to hammock nirvana was the right pillow. For hiking, I'll use a smaller pillow, but not the microscopic one I used before.
Here’s the full advice about hanging indoors:
When you are starting out, get yourself a simple hammock, the suspension to hang the hammock, and a summer-weight partial quilt. Nothing else is necessary at this point.
Get a hammock without foot-boxes, shelves, knotty mods, integrated bugnets, etc. A simple hammock is inexpensive, and allows you to sleep “left-to-right” or vice versa. And if you are going to be hanging full-time, you will eventually enjoy positioning yourself in either direction. I currently sleep on my back, my left side, and my right side, in either the left-to-right, or right-to-left directions, and that adds to six different ways in which I am able to lay in my hammock. This increases my comfort and is healthier, as my body doesn’t have a bunch of weight parked on just one part of itself for an extended time.
Another advantage of hanging inside is that if you don't achieve comfort right away, you can easily move to your own bed and still get enough rest to get you through your next busy day. I started by sleeping in the hammock only for a couple of hours, and then increasing the time as I got more and more comfortable. After nine or ten days, I was able to enjoy quality rest for the entire night. It takes a while to get yourself dialed-in, but after your experience and confidence increase, you'll be able to find those "sweet spots" in no time.
Also, try to buy your hammock from a cottage vendor - they make good stuff and you will have the satisfaction of supporting a small entrepreneur. And even if you are of short stature, get an 11-foot hammock, as that will give you a better chance to achieve a comfortable flat lay, without calf-ridge and shoulder-squeeze. For the same reasons, pick one that is on the wide side, say, sixty or more inches. And finally, choose the right fabric for your body weight, as recommended in the web pages of your hammock vendor.
I have seen several forum members start very enthusiastically, buy a bunch of equipment, and a short time later post a thread selling all their stuff and saying that hammock hanging is not for them. I hope this thread helps those who may be having doubts about continuing, as well as the newbies brimming with enthusiasm and plunking their dollars left and right. I think that hammock hanging should work for most people, but you have to take the time to do it right. At the beginning it may not seem as easy as sleeping on the ground, but with the right practice and equipment, it will become just as easy and a whole lot more comfortable.
Go forth and achieve Nirvana!