Not everyone knows that Christopher Columbus not only discovered America but also imported the hammock to Europe! A few days after his arrival at the Bahamas in October 1492, he discovered that “people slept on nets stretched between trees”, taking note on his journal. Hammocks were born in Latin America as a solution to the tropical climate. They have the advantage to protect against parasites and dangerous animals.
The origin of the name is disputed. Some think it gets its name from a plant that grows in Central America, the Hamack, whose bark was used to make the first hammocks. Others think it derives from the Haitian word “Arawakan” which means “fishnet”. No matter where it came from, the hammock has been part of the life of the inhabitants of the Caribbean and Latin America since time immemorial. They loved it for the relax it gave and because it was easy to set up. You just need two tree trunks and a net. Columbus realized pretty soon it was very useful and decided to use them on his ships allowing the sailors not to sleep on the hard, dirty, infested decks, and being rocked by the ship’s pitching.
The indigenous people of Latin America already knew about the hammock’s positive psycho-physical influence on the human body. They used to call it “gods’ cradle”. A study published in 2011 on “Current Biology” by Swiss researchers confirmed this empirical knowledge proving that the rocking movement of the hammocks regulates the physiological parameters of human sleep, synchronizing brain waves during short rest periods. The rocking movement of the hammock, according to this study, allows not only to reach earlier deep sleep but to remain in that state for a longer time. A panacea for daily rest nowadays possible even without two tree trunks as supporting poles. Modern hammocks are made with freestanding structures which let you install them wherever you want, even indoors.