Rocking yourself to sleep at night might be as good for you as it is for babies, based on recent research out of the University of Geneva. In the study, volunteers slept overnight on gently rocking beds. The volunteers were also hooked up to EEG monitors to record their brain-wave activity during the night.
Sleep is a vital restorative period for the body and brain. Deep sleep (NREM Stage 3) in particular is important for consolidating new memories – aka learning! Deep sleep also clears metabolic debris from the brain, including amyloid and tau proteins, the biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
Night Rocking Improves Deep Sleep
Nocturnal rocking measurably improved sleep quality for the study volunteers. The volunteers moved faster from NREM stage 1 to stage 2 sleep, then spent more time in the deepest stage 3 sleep. They also experienced 60 percent fewer EEG arousals in this deep-sleep stage. Arousals are sudden shifts in EEG frequency that last at least three seconds. These arousals are often followed by a return to deep sleep, but can also lead a person to wake up.
Volunteers completed memory tests before and after the rocking bed nights, and the results showed large improvements in memory recall after the rocking nights. This study points to a possible large scale solution for insomnia without habitual medication.
For a good night’s sleep, also practice these principles:
- Associate your bed and bedroom with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. (Alcohol metabolizes into glucose, which is a stimulant to the body.)
- Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during waking hours – use a lamp that simulates sunlight if necessary.
- Daytime exercise can promote good sleep. A relaxing exercise, like yoga or meditation, can also be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.