While today, hammocks are used for relaxation and leisure, 1,000 years ago, they served a different function. Ancient Mayans are believed to have originally used them as protective beds. Hammocks elevated early users from the ground, where poisonous snakes and insects were a threat. They kept sleepers cool in warm climates and were easy to transport and set up. It is rumored that when Christopher Columbus glimpsed the benefits of the hammock to the Taino people of the Bahamas, he capitalized on the opportunity and brought them back to Europe.