Sunday, August 26, 2012

Acid Reflux, Camping, Hammocks and Holes

This is a personal blog article.  I generally try to keep this to professional matters, but I would like to record this for those of us suffering from acid reflux.  I've been dealing with it for over a decade now and mostly control it via mechanical means - sleeping on an incline.  After a couple of hours sleeping flat, I get referred pain from my esophagus which feels like back pain.  I try really hard to figure out how to sleep on an incline so I can get 6-8 hours of sleep instead of 2-3 hours of sleep and then 2-3 hours sitting up until the pain subsides, rinse, repeat.  

I was camping last weekend, first time since I've started noticing my acid reflux.  I generally suffer when away from home and try all sorts of tricks with setting the bed on blocks to create an incline, build a mound of pillows, or sleep in a recliner.  I wasn't looking forward to sleeping on the ground for a couple of nights.  

I tried to find a spot on a bit of a slope, but that had to be balanced with the desire to not slide down on a slippery tent floor in a slippery sleeping bag.  The first night was absolutely miserable.  I did manage 5 hours or so I think.  I woke up somewhere between 3-4am in pain and left the tent so I wouldn't disturb my campmates.  Being in pain, cold, and really tired doesn't make for a lovely camping trip.  

I was absolutely dreading the coming night and trying to find a nice spot of ground (shaped like a recliner) to set up my sleeping bag and pad and praying that it wouldn't rain.  My wife fortunately found the right spot and not something I would have thought of.  It was a hole about 2 feet deep, 2 feet wide and 3 feet long in a U shape.  It turned out to be a perfect, recliner-like, shape.  I tried it out and immediately felt comfortable.  Long story short, I had a great night sleeping in the hole.  I heartily recommend digging a hole to sleep in if you have trouble sleeping on your back or sleeping flat due to acid reflux issues.

This experience started me thinking about using a hammock when away from home as it would provide the same shape..  Looking on Google, there are a LOT of articles on using baby hammocks for babies with acid reflux and very few about adults using hammocks to manage acid reflux.  I took the plunge anyway and bought a hammock to try out.  I slept in it last night, and it worked great.  I was able to sleep for a very long time (about 10 hours - trying to catch up on missed sleep).  It was very comfortable all night, and I had no pain indicative of acid reflux this morning. 

It seems to be a successful experiment - though I do need a few more data points to fully confirm it of course.  Assuming that additional data points confirm this approach, I need to figure out how to take the hammock with me when traveling.  Hotels don't generally provide hammock hooks in the wall.  Travel-wise, hammocks don't take up much room which is good as I hate checking bags when I fly.  The hammock I tried out was the ENO Double Nest Hammock which doesn't take up much space or weight (about the size of a grapefruit and less than two pounds).

ENO Double Nest Hammock (Tomato/Khaki)

ENO Double Nest Hammock (Navy/Olive)

These straps are handy to hang the hammock with:  ENO Slap Straps

I'd recommend getting two carabiners to replace the ones that come with the hammock based on reviews I saw on Amazon:  Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiner - Grey