Students give new meaning to “hanging out” on campus

Students hammocking near dorm rooms

Life for the typical college student is often synonymous with stress. However, in the midst of balancing academics, work and a social life, SMU sophomore Jacqui Jacoby has discovered how to achieve a state of relaxation most college students would envy.

For over a year, Jacoby has been hanging out – literally – in her hammock for some much-needed leisure time. A few days each week, you can find Jacoby reading a book, listening to music or napping while suspended between two trees behind Clements Hall, enjoying her shady paradise.

“The rocking motion mixed with being outside and the sunshine, it’s like complete relaxation,” said Jacoby. “Afterward, I literally feel a difference in my muscles and my joints. My whole body is completely relaxed.”

Hammocks are available in a variety of colors and styles, and can range in price from a mere $20 to thousands of dollars. At SMU, students can be spotted swinging between trees near Clements Hall, under their lofted dorm beds and between the pillars of sorority houses. Students at other universities are also in on the trend. One California campus has even installed hammocks in the quad.

There is no official policy for hammocks on SMU’s campus, according to the university’s manager of grounds services, Ann Allen. But Allen said that officials are aware that students are hammocking around campus.

An SMU student uses her hammock for a little R&R

Since she started using a hammock two years ago, senior Kenna Rood has found that studying in her hammock often gives her a much-needed rest break.

“A hammock is the best place to get class reading done, as long as you don’t mind interrupting it with a little nap that is bound to happen,” she said.

Co-author of Current Biology Michel Muhlethaler performed a 2011 study on hammocks, sleep and brainwaves and found that hammock users experienced various health benefits.

According to Muhlethaler’s findings, the rocking movements of a hammock synchronize brain waves, leading to a deeper sleep. This deep sleep leads to an improved mood – similar to the happiness Rood refers to after she uses her hammock. A sharper mental performance and better memory can also result from deeper sleep.

Muhlethaler also includes a faster sleep onset and possible cure for insomnia among the benefits of using a hammock.

The University of California, Davis embraces its students’ enthusiasm for hammocks. As a part of the university’s Health Happens Here initiative funded by The California Endowment $50,000 grant, about a dozen free-standing hammocks have been installed in the university’s Quad.

Junior Addie Green of UC Davis believes that the hammocks have been a positive addition to the campus.

“There are always kids using them,” wrote Green in an email. “Most of the time on their phones or reading, but using it as a way to relax.”

Hammocking does not come without a few caveats, however.

Hammock assembly can be a problem for hammockers, especially those with little time on their hands. Jacoby explains that setting up her hammock can be a time consuming process.

“It’s kind of a big set up so if I only have 30 minutes I won’t do it,” she said.

It takes Jacoby 20 minutes to walk to her favorite spot and hang up her hammock. She usually reserves her hammocking for times where she has a few hours to spare.

Finding the right hammock can also be a difficult process. With so many different hammock brands and styles available at a range of prices, choosing the perfect hammock may be a lengthy process.

For junior Juan Pablo Pressier, a quality hammock is worth a higher price. Pressier chose to invest in a double nest Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) hammock and tree straps, costing him about $100.

Although on the pricey side, Pressier’s hammock decision was based on practicality and quality. Able to hold two people, the double nest hammock was more useful for Pressier, who enjoys hammocking with friends. Additionally, ENO hammocks are extremely well known in the hammock industry for their top-of-the-line quality.

Jacoby, familiar with ENO hammock’s quality but looking to spend less, researched different types of hammocks before settling on a Grand Trunk hammock – just $21 from Amazon. However, Jacoby admits she may have sacrificed the quality of her hammock for a cheaper price.

“ENO does it better. Mine was cheap,” she said.

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