Ever look at a baby and think to yourself, “Gosh, they look so comfortable.” That’s because they probably are. Babies have no stresses, they have the warmest blankets, the best smelling shampoos, oh … and they get rocked! Babies are always being rocked, either in their parents’ arms, in rocking chairs, or play sleepers, and it’s knocking them out! So, if you want to get zonked like a baby, maybe it’s time you got rocked, too! Let’s take a look at a couple of suggests that suggest being rocked to sleep may be the answer to some common sleep conditions.
Rocking to Sleep: An Evolutionary Process
It takes centuries for changes to happen within a species. These changes in genetics rely on many external factors that include survival mechanisms that are created due to the environment and repetitious behaviors by a species. Giraffes inherited longer necks to reach leaves on branches high up; dolphins have evolved to communicate underwater; and humans have evolved to fall asleep while being rocked.
Current Biology recently conducted two studies that examine how the brain reacts to rocking motions. Fascinatingly enough, scientists came to two conclusions following the studies:
Rocking motions during sleep improve the following in both humans and mice:
- Sleep quality
- Long-term memory
Let’s take a look at each of these studies individually to see if rocking yourself to sleep is a viable option for treating your insomnia.
Rocking and Improved Sleep Quality for Humans
The first study conducted looked at the sleep quality of 18 healthy young adults. This study was conducted over a three-day period to ensure a fair assessment of the results.
According to Current Biology, the study itinerary broke down as followed:
- Day 1 (Sleep lab) Done so subjects can familiarize with environment
- Day 2 (Next day) Sleeping in a slow rocking bed
- Day 3 (One week later) Stationary bed
To measure how quickly the subjects fell asleep, as well as how long they were in REM, the authors used electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to capture brain waves.
The results found that the subjects who were rocked to sleep:
- Took a shorter time to fall asleep
- Had fewer arousals during sleep
- Maintained longer periods of deep sleep
Furthermore, those who exhibited no issues falling asleep the first night saw improvements the second night. Therefore, the study showed that rocking not only helps those who have trouble sleeping, but also benefits the sleep patterns of those who have a healthy sleep cycle.
Rocking and Improved Memory for Humans
The authors took the analysis even further. While they were determining if rocking improved sleep quality, they also tested the cognitive function of their subjects the next day.
Prior to going to sleep on both Day 2 and Day 3, the subjects were tasked with remembering 46 random word pairs. In the morning, the subjects were given one word of each pair and were asked to recite the paired word from the day prior as a response. On the nights where the subjects were rocked to sleep, their memory saw three times the improvement.
Based on the EEG recordings, specialists noticed that the brain waves became synchronized during non-REM sleep in an area of the brain known as the thalamocortical networks.
The thalamocortical networks influence brain wave activity responsible for:
- Seizure activity
- Cognitive function
- GABA production
- Storage of long-term memories
Specialists theorize that the rhythm of the bed movement attracts electricity in the brain. Eventually, the brain gets in sync with the movement. To see if these results are shared among mammals, another study was conducted with mice.
Differences in Rocking for Mice and Humans
Science is all about repetition. One study with 18 healthy adults gives a great insight into how the brain reacts to rocking while sleeping. However, any adult can have an “off night.” Plus, the second night could’ve been more comfortable for them to sleep because the first night seemed so stressful.
The study with mice did find that these little mammals did indeed fall asleep quicker when they were being rocked to bed. On top of that, the mice did slumber longer with rocking just like their two-legged counterparts. However, mice did not have a stronger sleep quality than the human subjects.
So, while the mice found the rocking soothing, why didn’t it make them go into a deeper sleep? Scientists theorized that this had to do with the way the human ear is built in comparison to mice.
The inner ears of mammals have a group of sensory organs known as the vestibular system. Research indicates that these little organs help us with spatial organization and maintaining balance.
To test this theory, the scientists used mice that had impaired vestibular functions. When they exhibited no signs of deeper sleep, it lent credibility to the hypothesis that the human vestibular system plays a role in connecting rocking motions in the outside world to the brain waves inside our thalamocortical networks.
Furthermore, half of the mice used in this experiment were missing little calcium carbonate particles inside of their ear known as otoliths. Otoliths float about between the semicircular canals and the cochlea within the ear. The mice who were missing these pivotal particles experienced no benefits of the rocking.
All-Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep
These two studies offer fascinating insight as to how the brain works. It also gives hope that we no longer have to turn to habit-forming medications to get some shut eye. Instead, take a step back and recapture your youthful innocence and get a good night’s rest in one. Want to improve your sleep naturally? Here are a few tips that will have you snoring in no time!
Get a Rocking Bed or Hammock
All the science you need that a rocking bed or hammock might be the answer you’ve been looking for is above. While many of us can’t spend a whole night in a hammock, you can catch an excellent refresher in the middle of the day! What’s so wonderful about hammocks is you can set them up outside, in a basement, or in the corner of the bedroom. They’re light and extremely portable, making it easy to catch a quick cat nap.
For a more permanent solution, get a bed that rocks. No, you don’t need to kick your baby out of the bassinet. Instead, look into a Rocking Bed for Adults. It’s stylish, comfy, and it slowly rocks side-to-side to ensure a refreshing night’s rest.
Cut the Screen Time
More studies are coming to light (literally) that the blue light on our screens is ruining our sleep cycle. What causes us to go to sleep is a hormone known as melatonin. Melatonin is produced by a nut-sized organ behind our eyes known as the pineal gland.
The pineal gland is charged by light. As the sun comes up the light enters through our window. Our shades … er, eyelids, sense the light and the pineal gland gets charged through this protective layer of skin. Finally, we wake and go about our day.
As the sun goes down, we start to feel tired. About two hours before our regular bedtime, the pineal gland will begin to secrete melatonin. Naturally, we go to sleep. This process is our circadian rhythm, and it’s dictated by light. That is unless your pineal gland doesn’t receive the cue.
Blue lights from LED screens on TVs, smartphones, and tablets are giving off the same light rays as a rising sun. Therefore, your pineal gland is getting that low-key charge telling it that your day is about to begin. As a result, you feel less tired during a part of the day where you should be snoozing.
Try All-Natural Supplements
With 39% of people believing they’re addicted to their phones, and with people checking their device on average 52 times per day, it seems unlikely that screen time will be cut. Part of this is work-related, another is boredom. Whatever the reason may be, we need to find ways to combat this issue.
The answer may be to replace what we’re missing. If we are running low on melatonin, replenish it with an all-natural supplement like Sleep Fast. Sleep Fast contains organic minerals like melatonin that will supplement your body with hormones it is lacking. In addition, Sleep Fast also has 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). Your body uses 5-HTP to synthesize serotonin. Serotonin regulates your mood. Therefore, if you are feeling stressed while you toss and turn, the 5-HTP in Sleep Fast can help calm the agitated brain waves.
Improving Sleep with Rocking
We are always looking for new ways to get better sleep. We think the future is here, and it’s telling us to go to the past. If you think the last time you had a good night’s rest was when you were a baby, you may be right. So, do as you did then. Get rocked!
By rocking yourself to sleep, you can improve your sleep quality and memory. Be sure to cut down on screen time at least two hours before bed, supplement with all-natural Sleep Fast, and get a rocking bed. Together, you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time!