Do you struggle with insomnia? Or maybe you sleep all night but you never feel rested. Either way, you’d probably love to find a way to get the good sleep that you need. Otherwise, you’ll suffer all the ill effects that come with not getting good rest. Besides, not getting good sleep feels miserable, and who wants that in their life?
New research shows that rocking yourself to sleep can actually improve your rest. I know, it sounds crazy. After all, only babies and small children get rocked, right? While that’s the way we use rocking, it turns out that all of us could benefit from being rocked to sleep.
Why Would I Rock Myself to Sleep?
Sure, it sounds a little crazy, or maybe a little childish. But rocking yourself to sleep really works. Science says so.
A recent study out of the University of Geneva, in Switzerland, looked at the effects of rocking on the sleep of 12 men. None of these men reported sleep disturbances or difficulties, so they were all considered normal sleepers. They were also well-rested when the experiment started, to eliminate sleepiness as a factor in the research.
These men each took two different 45-minute naps, on different days. One was on a regular bed, while the other was on a bed engineered to mimic the motion of a hammock. Researchers monitored each of the men with an EEG, which measures brain waves and brain activity.
This study produced several interesting findings.
- Every single man fell asleep faster on the rocking bed than on the regular bed. While this is a small study of people without insomnia, this finding has exciting implications for insomniacs. It’s quite possible that most people will fall asleep faster when they are rocked than they do when they aren’t.
- 8 out of the 12 participants liked the rocking bed more than they liked the regular one. They indicated to researchers that they found that nap “more pleasant” than the nap on the regular bed. This means that rocking doesn’t just make people sleep better, but it makes them feel better about their sleep, too.
- Sleepers on the rocking bed moved more quickly into Stage 2 sleep, instead of staying longer in Stage 1. This is important because we spend most of the night – about 50% though it can vary from person to person and night to night – in Stage 2 sleep. Most people spend about the same time in Stage 1 every night, so hastening that process means getting to restorative stages of sleep faster.
- Certain types of brain waves and other brain activity are closely associated with deeper, continuous sleep. Sleepers almost always report that deeper sleep is more restful. This means that rocking could not only help people fall asleep, but it could also help them stay asleep longer and get more out of the time they spend asleep. Again, this research is promising for insomniacs.
How to Rock Yourself to Sleep
You don’t have to bob back and forth like a crazy person to rock yourself to sleep. There are several different ways you can achieve the sensation of rocking. Some of these involve making a significant investment in your rest, while at least one is completely free.
- Buy a rocking bed. This is a bed frame that you can put under your current mattress. When you turn the bed on, it gently rocks back and forth. The motion is comforting and seamless and feels a little like being in a hammock. You will simply slide back and forth all night long. This is an expensive option, but less so when you consider how much better you could end up sleeping. If possible, test out rocking sleep before you spend a lot on this bed. If you know you love it, it’s worth the money!
- Use an electronic device to simulate rocking. There is a device out there that is about the size of an MP3 player and fits just behind your ear. It sends electrical impulses through your vestibular system, which makes you feel like you are rocking even though you are lying completely still. This device has been shown to reduce insomnia in 67% of people who have it significantly down to insignificant levels. That is huge! Clearly, you don’t actually have to be rocking to feel like you are, and the sensation is all that you need.
- Visualize yourself rocking. You don’t have to actually sway but pretend that you are. Get into it! Visualize yourself in a hammock somewhere. Think about the scenery and about what you would hear and smell and taste. Or visualize yourself on a boat or a raft, gently rolling back and forth on small waves. You can even add music if the beat helps enhance your rocking sensation or it helps you get into your visualization. The more real you can make it, the more you will feel like you’re rocking and the greater benefits you can reap.
Rocking might sound a little crazy, but it seems to work. After all, women have been rocking and swaying with their babies for years, and most people get sleepy in the car. Even if you feel skeptical, it’s worth a try, especially if you struggle with insomnia. Who knows? You might have just found a way to sleep better for the rest of your life.