Here's another fine development in sleep science today! A new study shows that young adults, like babies, sleep better when rocked. University of Geneva neuroscientist Laurence Bayer and colleagues built a gently rocking bed and used EEG to monitor adults' brain activity as they slept. From Science News:
Study participants fell asleep faster while being rocked, the researchers found. In a stationary bed, people took an average of 16.7 minutes to reach a light stage of non-REM sleep called N2. But when rocked, the young adults hit this sleep stage after an average of 10 minutes. Rocked people also spent more time in a deep non-REM stage of sleep called N3, and had fewer wake-ups. And rocking boosted the number of sleep spindles — fast bursts of brain activity that mark good sleep.
Before people fell asleep, they learned pairs of words, and then were given a memory test the next morning. After a night of rocking, people were better at remembering the words, an improvement that suggested higher quality sleep.