Rocking Into the Night: Can Swaying Motions Improve Sleep?

Is there anything better than taking a nap in a hammock on a breezy summer day? As far as naps go, the answer could be “no.” A group of Swiss scientists observed an interesting phenomenon: rocking motions, specifically in hammocks and cradles, are universally seen as soothing across cultural lines. Those researchers decided to search for scientific evidence behind this phenomenon.

Studying the Effects of Rocking on Sleep

To conduct the study, the scientists created a custom bed that created a gentle swaying motion to lull their subjects to sleep. The 12 participants, all men, good sleepers, and in the age range of 22 to 38, took 45-minute afternoon naps in the bed, while it was rocking and while it was stationary.

Scientists monitored the brain waves of each participant in both the motionless and swaying bed and compared the results. Every patient fell asleep more quickly in the bed while it was rocking, and their quality of sleep was better. The brain wave patterns in the rocking state were boosted, as was the amount of N2 (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, which comprises about 50 percent of our nightly sleep.

Rocking and the Future of Sleep Medicine

What does this study mean for the future of sleep medicine? The Swiss team will next study rocking’s effects on a full night of sleep, on individuals with sleep disorders, and on the brain waves of adults as compared to children.

In the meantime, you now have an even better excuse to take a break during a busy, or lazy, weekend and stretch out on your hammock.

Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep? Dr. James Stewart can help. Call our Livonia, MI, dental practice today at 734.425.4400.