It's Time To Ditch Our Beds And Sleep In Hammocks, According To Science
"Rock-a-bye baby" isn't just a children's lullaby -- a new study of has found that a gentle rocking motion can help grown-ups nod off quicker and sleep better.
The study, published in the Cell journal on Thursday, saw 18 healthy young adults bed down for a few nights at a sleep lab.
One night was spent on a gently rocking bed -- not quite a hammock, but pretty similar -- while the other slept on an identical bed that wasn't moving.
Researchers from the University of Geneva, Switzerland kept an eye on their brain activity and lo and behold the data showed that the both humans and mice participants fell asleep faster while being rocked like little babies.
They also woke up less throughout the night and spent more time in non-rapid eye movement sleep -- meaning they slept more deeply.
Nodding off quickly and remaining asleep are the two factors involved in getting a solid night's slumber according to researcher Laurence Bayer.
"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 showed that rocking is good for sleep," he said.
The team also tested the participants' memory and found that they were far more able to recall things they'd seen and heard the previous evening when after having been rocked to sleep.
A nice rock back and forth sure feels good -- hence why kids and adults both tend to snooze in cars and other moving vehicles -- but it's our brain that really enjoys it.
Specifically, the brain's thalamo-cortical networks which connect the thalamus -- which co-ordinates consciousness, sleep and our senses.
The continuous rocking motion helps to synchronise activity in the thalamo-cortical networks which effectively helps lull the brain into a state of non-rapid eye movement sleep.
A few of the study participants admitted that the idea of hopping into what was essentially an adult-sized cradle was a bit weird.
Aurore Perrault, another member of the research team, told CBS News that they "forgot about the motion after several minutes of rocking," and described the swaying of the lab bed as "pleasant and relaxing."
The team reckons that the findings could help treat people with insomnia and mood disorders, as well as older people, who frequently suffer from poor sleep and memory impairments.
Want in? A US company -- aptly named Rocking Bed -- sells a bed frame that sways from side to side, but at almost $5,000 it's rather exxy. Maybe a stock standard hammock is the way to go.
Feature image: Disney.