Rocking like a baby could help adults sleep more soundly
Ask any new parent how they get their baby to sleep and you can bet a packet of wet wipes they’ll say rocking.
But, new research suggests the motion could help adults get more shut eye, too.
Scientists from the University of Geneva built a special bed that rocked gently throughout the night.
Test participants, of which there were 18, spent three nights in a sleep laboratory; one to get used to sleeping there, one on the rocking bed and the other on the same bed, but remaining still.
For each night’s sleep researchers recorded their brainwaves.
The results, published in Current Biology, revealed that the rocking motion resulted in a longer period of slow brainwaves, which meant they slept for longer in a deep sleep and experienced fewer wake ups.
Researchers also found the participants had better memory recall in the morning. To test this researchers measured participants accuracy in recalling paired words in an evening session compared to the next morning when they woke up. They found that people did better on the morning test when they were rocked during the night.
Study authors put this down to the rocking motion rocking helping to synchronise neural activity in a certain part of the brain, the thalamo-cortical networks, which impacts both sleep and memory consolidation.
A parallel study conducted by the University of Lausanne in Switzerland looked at the effect of gently rocking the cages of mice while they went to sleep.
The results revealed that rocking reduced the time the mice needed to fall asleep and increased their sleep time.
But unlike it did in humans, the rocking motion did not appear to increase sleep quality.
Professor Sophie Schwartz, a neuroscientist at UNIGE, and author of the study, said the research helped to explain why people fell asleep on trains, and other vehicles. “I was contacted by someone in America who works on a high crane, which moves gently all day,” she said. “He told me that now he understands why he sleeps so deeply during his after-lunch nap.”
Though the findings seem significant when in comes to potentially upping our ZZZs, researchers concluded that because most of us don’t currently have a rocking bed, more research was needed to determine how the findings could help people with sleep disorders.
It isn’t the first time it has been suggested that sleeping like we did as an infant could give us a great night’s kip.
Last year, a London-based hotel started offering guests the chance to sleep like a baby courtesy of its womb-inspired interiors. The Woom Room features a cocoon-shaped bed which has been crafted to imitate the safety and security of the womb.
Designed to encourage REM-rich slumber (the type of sleep which increases brain activity, promotes learning and creates dreams) – the rooms engage with every sensorial touchpoint of the body.
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