Ever notice how easy it is to doze off when you’re swaying back and forth in a hammock? Or how effortlessly a baby is lulled to sleep after being rocked? Well, science says there’s a reason why.
Many of us have trouble falling asleep at night. This could be due to restlessness, recurring endless thoughts or sleeping disorders like insomnia. Research shows that a rocking motion can help you fall asleep easily as it allows your mind to concentrate on a single stimulus: rocking.
What’s more; rocking can trigger comforting memories like being soothed to sleep by your mother when you were a child.
A study by researchers at the University of Geneva found that rocking improves quality of sleep and can enhance memory. The study focused on 10 healthy adult women and eight healthy men. The participants were split into two groups and asked to spend two nights in a laboratory. One night was spent in a stationary bed and the other, in a rocking bed. The rocking bed moved back and forth slowly, every four seconds.
Besides getting tested for sleep quality, each participant was tested for vigilance and memory. For the memory test, the men and women were shown 46 pairs of French words before and after sleeping (either in the stationary or rocking bed). This was done to check how well their long-term memories would work after sleeping either way.
The vigilance test involved measuring how fast each participant could react after pressing keys to sequences of crosses that appeared at the centre of a computer screen.
After a night spent rocking, participants fell asleep quickly, slept deeply and stayed asleep for most of the night. With the stationary bed, participants took longer to fall asleep, didn’t sleep as deeply and woke up more often during the night.
The memory test revealed that after sleeping in the rocking bed, participants were better at remembering the paired French words. Furthermore, the night spent in the rocking beds made the participants more vigilant during the tests compare to the night in the stationary bed.
So, what now?
The two tests showed that sleeping in a rocking bed increases your quality of sleep, and memory and vigilance abilities. The researchers behind the study suggest that these findings could be used to develop new approaches for treating those with insomnia and other sleeping conditions.
For now, investing in a rocking bed could weigh heavily on your pockets, but there are other ways to get the swaying effect.
- Invest in a hammock, a comfy rocking chair or a hammock chair.
- Go to sleep and wake up at consistent times.
- Switch off bright lights during bedtime (including your Smartphone).
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Don’t drink coffee or alcohol a few hours before bed.
- Sleep on your side to reduce pressure on your body.
- If you have insomnia or struggle to sleep, talk to your doctor about a melatonin supplement or medication.