Rocking motion fosters deep sleep, study claims

If you need a nap, get a hammock. You will nod off quicker and sleep more deeply, researchers say.

The gentle rocking motion soothes us to sleep – and the effect has now been demonstrated by a study of brainwaves.

From babies cradled in their mother's arms to grandparents falling asleep in a rocking chair, it is common knowledge that rocking induces sleep. But scientists did not understand how it worked.

"It had remained a mystery," said Sophie Schwartz of the University of Geneva. She led a study involving 12 volunteers who were asked to nap on a custom-made "experimental hammock" bed that could either stay still or rock gently.

All the participants were naturally good sleepers who did not typically nap. Each took two 45-minute afternoon naps, one with the bed stationary and the other with it in motion. At the same time, their brainwaves were monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes attached to the scalp.

"We observed a faster transition to sleep in each and every subject in the swinging condition," said co-researcher Dr Michel Muhlethaler, also from the University of Geneva.

The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, showed a "dramatic boosting" of certain types of sleep-related brainwaves associated with rocking.

Swaying from side to side specifically increased the duration of deep non-dreaming sleep, where the eyes are still, which normally accounts for about half a good night's sleep. The brainwaves also showed activity typical of deep sleep.

The next step is to see whether rocking may be useful for the treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders, say the researchers. "Swinging" sleep might also improve memory and brain-damage repair, they say.

Children often rock themselves to sleep but the habit can be disturbing if it extends into adulthood. Called rhythmic movement disorder, it is marked by excessive rocking or banging of the head or body in bed. It is usually a response to stress. Introducing bedtime rituals to induce relaxation, such as a warm bath, can help ease the condition.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Recruitment Genius: Company Commercial / Company Property Solicitor

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This south Warwickshire based s...

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible