Joanita Wibowo

Mind

Not just for babies: Study reveals adults sleep better with rocking

Not just for babies: Study reveals adults sleep better with rocking

Sometimes, no tricks would help in getting a baby to sleep other than rocking them. Now, a new study has found that the same approach still works for the grown-ups.

“Having a good night’s sleep means falling asleep rapidly and then staying asleep during the whole night,” said Laurence Bayer, co-author of the study from the University of Geneva, Switzerland in a statement.

“Our volunteers – even if they were all good sleepers – fell asleep more rapidly when rocked and had longer periods of deeper sleep associated with fewer arousals during the night. We thus show that rocking is good for sleep.”

In the study, 18 participants were asked to spend a night sleeping in the laboratory. Half of them rested on a rocking bed that was moving on a gentle arc of 10.5 centimetres, while the rest slept on a stationary bed. Their brain activities throughout the night were recorded and monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

Those who slept on the rocking bed were found to not only sleep more deeply and wake up less, but they also performed better on the morning memory test than those who spent the night on a normal bed.

“This increase in overnight memory accuracy was supported by a decrease in the number of errors and an increase in the number of correct responses only during the rocking night,” the researchers wrote.

The method has been proven on animals, too. In another study, Dr Paul Franken from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland experimented rocking mice to sleep. Although “mice had to be rocked four times faster than humans”, the motion was found to help mice fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

The two studies “provide new insights into the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the effects of rocking stimulation on sleep”, wrote Bayer and co-author Aurore Perrault. The findings may be used in development of new treatment approaches for people with insomnia and mood disorders as well as older people, who often experience poor sleep and memory impairment.