You can rock fruit flies to sleep with gentle vibrations

A bunch of scientists figured out that you can rock fruit flies to sleep, just like sweet little babies.

This adorable finding is reported in a recent edition of Cell Reports. It's long been known that rocking helps many animals sleep, because — as the framework in this paper hypothesizes, anyway — when you're rocked your system gradually screens out stimulus, which reduces our arousal, and leads to sleepiness.

But does this work with … insects? To test it on fruit flies, they used loudspeakers to gently vibrate the wee creatures.

Sure enough, it made the flies more likely to sleep during the day. (It had less of an effect at night, which is an interesting finding that needs more study!)

As the scientists write:

Our data establish that as in humans and mice, gentle mechanosensory stimulation can promote sleep in Drosophila. [snip] Our results demonstrate that sleep during vibration is associated with reduced arousability, which suggests that vibration promotes deep sleep.

(That CC-4.0-licensed photo of Drosophila is courtesy Sanjay Acharya via Wikimedia)