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June 24, 2011

BehindTheMedspeak: Swaying hammock aids sleep*

It must be true 'cause I almost dozed off on the treadmill just now watching the video above.

Yo, joe — that's not how they meant it.


Jonathan Shormon reported in USA Today that people fell asleep faster and slept more deeply when they were in a swinging hammock than when lying a bed.

He wrote, "The Swiss researchers who conducted the study expected to find that rocking caused subjects to fall asleep faster, says study co-author Michel Muhlethaler of the University of Geneva. He says they didn't expect the motion to also cause deeper sleep. Exactly why the rocking motion helps sleep remains a subject of speculation, he says."

Below, a summary of the work, just published in Current Biology.


Rocking synchronizes brain waves during a short nap

Why do we cradle babies or irresistibly fall asleep in a hammock? Although such simple behaviors are common across cultures and generations, the nature of the link between rocking and sleep is poorly understood. Here we aimed to demonstrate that swinging can modulate physiological parameters of human sleep. To this end, we chose to study sleep during an afternoon nap using polysomnography and EEG spectral analyses. We show that lying on a slowly rocking bed (0.25 Hz) facilitates the transition from waking to sleep, and increases the duration of stage N2 sleep. Rocking also induces a sustained boosting of slow oscillations and spindle activity. It is proposed that sensory stimulation associated with a swinging motion exerts a synchronizing action in the brain that reinforces endogenous sleep rhythms. These results thus provide scientific support to the traditional belief that rocking can soothe our sleep.


*In men. No women were included in the study, though they will be part of a follow-up experiment.

June 24, 2011 at 05:01 PM | Permalink


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The only thing I can think of with this study is that NOBODY involved has kids.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Jun 26, 2011 5:03:47 PM

The women were prolly busy trying to get some work done while the old guys were out cold.

Posted by: Flautist | Jun 25, 2011 1:49:50 AM

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