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




  1. One of the basics of camping out is learning how to improvise and make the best of the situation. Having said that, kudos on the hole idea. That was a case of simple ingenuity.

  2. I'm hear to also give testimony that sleeping in a hammock helped me sleep through the night and NOT have heartburn/Acid reflux. I at times have it so bad I wake up because I've thrown up in my sleep. In the hammock I tried while camping it was PERFECT. I slept like a baby. I might have to rig one up in my home now.

  3. We recently got the same one - just in blue and gray. Great minds think alike ;)

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  5. It was a very good post indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it in my lunch time. Will surely come and visit this blog more often. Thanks for sharing. camping

  6. Just trying to get my mind around how to prop up head and neck IN a sleeping bag while trying to stay warm in, say, a polar vortex. That will fit in a bug-out bag. I’m a singer and if reflux gets my vocal cords, my singing life is over. If I freeze, my life is also over. Think Illinois earthquake (New Madrid) level 8. In January. Think house collapsed so bug-in no good.

    Never happen? Well, it’s a worse-case scenario.

  7. The elevated hanging position of the hammock kept the sleeper off the ground, which protected them from snakes and other crawling ground dwellers and insects. camping hammock