Where Do Sailors Sleep on a Ship?

October 13, 2023

Sailors spend long periods of time at sea and need a good night’s sleep to function properly. This is particularly true when they are on watch.

The sailor’s sleep quarters are called “berthing” and consist of bunk beds. Depending on the size of the ship, there may be many berthing areas or individual cabins.

Before hammocks, sailors slept in sacks filled with straw, piles of wood or, in very rare cases, on horsehair mattresses. These were extremely uncomfortable and smelly. Sheets only hid the stench and made it even more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

In the sixteenth century, Columbus saw natives in the Antilles sleeping in nets that were stretched between two tall trees. He had these beds put aboard his ships, and the Navy was soon using them for all of its sailor crews. The canvas sea hammock, also known as a hamaca, became the new standard for every sailor.

Navy scientists and safety officials say that sailors need more sleep, shorter watches and better food to be at their best. They have found that sailor fatigue causes accidents, injuries and illnesses.

When a sailor chooses his or her bunk, they must consider the direction of the boat and where it is moving in relation to the water level. If a sailor is sensitive to motion sickness they can try to book a room in the center of the ship or on a lower deck. These are usually the quietest spots and have less movement, but it’s a matter of personal preference.


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