New parents know that rocking your baby—whether by swaddling them in their arms or using a rocking bed—is the best way of getting them to settle in for a good night of sleep. Now, a new study published in Current Biology has found that adults aren’t so different from infants—at least when it comes to tucking ourselves in for the night.
Researchers asked 18 participants in their 20s to spend one night in a stationary bed and another in one that gently rocked back and forth every four seconds, and measured their brain activity via an electroencephalogram (EEG). The results showed that participants slept much better in the bed that swayed gently to and fro than in the one that stayed perfectly still. See the video here:
“Compared to a night spent on a stationary bed, our subjects fell asleep faster and spent more time in deep sleep,” Laurence Bayer, a senior researcher and biologist at the University of Geneva and lead author of the study, told CNN.
Specifically, participants entered deep, restorative sleep almost 7 minutes faster in the rocking bed, woke up 5 percent less while in that essential stage, and had fewer disruptive dreams. Given what we know about how sleep affects cognitive functions, it’s perhaps no surprise that adults also performed better on memory tests after spending the night being softly rocked to sleep.
The participants also said they thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in the rocking bed, so much so that they wished they could take the custom-designed cradle home. While that wouldn’t be possible, the good news is that there is a patent-pending rocking bed available for purchase online. And Bayer said that, in a pinch, a hammock could even produce some similar results. These findings will be particularly useful to troubled sleepers, as well as the elderly and those that suffer from insomnia.
“If rocking can help this population to sleep better, it will be a nice alternative or a natural complement [to sleeping pills],” Bayer told Science News. And for more great advice on how to get the best night of rest possible, learn about The One Thing You Should Never Do Before Bed.
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