Rocking to a deep sleep

By • Published: September 23rd, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Getting a baby to sleep on his own can be a challenge. Some people try letting baby rock in a swing or swaddling an infant in blankets to make him feel safe. Some parents even resort to driving a newborn around in a car just so the little one can catch some Z’s.

But for some people, the easiest way to get an infant to sleep like a baby is rocking the tiny bundle back and forth in their arms. Now new research suggests adults can benefit from the same rhythmic motion when they are trying to fall asleep.

Researchers recruited male adult volunteers who were good sleepers and who weren’t normally sleepy during the day to participate in the study. The volunteers each took two 45-minute afternoon naps, one in a rocking bed and one without any motion. Their brain activity was monitored as they snoozed.

Just like babies, all the participants fell asleep faster when they were being rocked.

But the discovery that surprised researchers the most was a dramatic increase of the participants’ brain waves during their rocking bed naps. These brainwaves suggest the volunteers were obtaining a much deeper sleep throughout the 45-minute nap.

Researchers say the rocking increased the duration of a form of non-rapid eye movement sleep considered refreshing and deep.

The next step for the investigators is to see if rocking can benefit a full night’s sleep and be useful for people who suffer from sleeping disorders such as insomnia.

But in the meantime, if you are looking for a quick, refreshing power nap, you might want to try something other then your favorite recliner. A few minutes of shuteye swinging on your backyard hammock may just do the trick to help you sleep like a baby.