Originally, the Spanish colonists slept on filthy mattresses stuffed with straw. Drawn by the warmth of a body, they were flea ridden, attracted snakes, ants, and vermin of every kind. Imagine the Spanish soldiers when they set foot on land and saw the Native American hammock -- what an ingenious and clever idea. They immediately adopted the concept, and burned their mattresses. At first, the hammocks were made from the bark of a hamack tree, but that was later replaced by sisal fibers which were more plentiful in the area.
Around 1590, hammocks were adopted for use in sailing ships; the Royal Navy adopted the canvas hammock in 1597. Aboard ship, hammocks were regularly employed for sailors sleeping on the gun decks of warships, where limited space prevented the installation of permanent bunks. The hammock also moves in concert with the ship, and therefore provides the sailor with some protection from being tossed out due and possibly injured during heavy seas.