Let a Hammock Rock You to Your Best Sleep

A new study suggests the rocking motion of a hammock could help you have a deeper, more restful sleep

Credit: TV Week

Gentle rocking may help you fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper slumber

Need help relaxing? Rocking yourself to sleep in a hammock could be ?the secret to a better rest

Picture the sand, the gentle surf rolling onto the beach and relaxing in a hammock gently swaying in the wind. It’s easy to doze off. But drifting to sleep may not be due to that idyllic tropical paradise, as new research suggests it’s actually the hammock itself.?

In an intriguing new study, researchers from the University of Geneva studied a small group of young healthy volunteers. The participants didn’t have excess daytime sleepiness, were good sleepers and were also not nappers.?

In the study, 12 young men were given a chance to nap in a controlled environment on a custom-made bed that could remain stationary or rock gently like a hammock in the breeze. Participants took 45-minute naps while the bed was stationary and again while it was gently rocking. During this time, the researchers monitored physiological changes and brain activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG).?

Hammock’s Rocking Motion Promotes Sleep

The results, published in the journal Current Biology, were surprising: Gentle rocking not only helped the volunteers fall asleep faster, it also changed the quality of their sleep with participants enjoying a deeper, more restful slumber.?

The EEG showed the rocking motion helped increase the duration of a type of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep that usually occupies half the time of a good night’s sleep. This phase is associated with deep sleep and memory consolidation. The majority of participants also said the rocking bed was more pleasant than the stationary bed.?

Limitations of the study include the lack of women participants and the short sleep duration. More research needs to be done to see if these results would occur during a full night’s sleep. It also remains to be seen whether gentle rocking can help those with sleep disorders such as insomnia.?

Napping is a Healthy Way to Rest

Intuitively, we know that rocking is comforting. “It is a common belief that rocking induces sleep: We irresistibly fall asleep in a rocking chair and, since immemorial times, we cradle our babies to sleep,” said study co-author Sophie Schwartz of the University of Geneva, in a news release.?

The researchers say their findings now provide scientific proof of the traditional belief that rocking can soothe a person to sleep.?

When it comes to napping, experts agree that if you can, it’s a great way to allow your body to rest, refuel and recharge. Even if you’re not inclined to nap, taking a few quiet minutes to close your eyes and dial down completely, away from email, the Internet and the buzz of daily life, is healthy for you.?

Now there’s a good reason to string up that hammock for the summer and who knows, maybe you’ll just doze off . . .

Your Health with Dr. Rhonda Low airs weekdays during CTV News at Five and CTV News at Six.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.