Put Away the Ambien and Get Into the Hammock

Hammock

Did you need another excuse to spend a lazy day in the hammock this summer? If you did, I’ve got the research study for you. A study out recently showed that adults who napped in a bed that rocked back and forth fell asleep faster and fell asleep deeper than the adults who slept in stationary beds:

The gentle rocking motion makes people fall asleep faster, and they sleep deeper. Those changes in brain activity may inspire new ways to help insomniacs, the researchers say.Neuroscientists at the University of Geneva rigged up a bed so it would sway gently from side to side every four seconds, considerably slower than the pendulum on a cuckoo clock. “This rocking is very gentle, very smooth, oscillating every four seconds,” Sophie Schwartz, a professor of neurology who led the study, told Shots. “It’s not like rocking like you would see some mothers rocking their babies, it’s more gentle.”

via Why Hammocks Make Sleep Easier, Deeper : Shots – Health Blog : NPR.

What’s interesting to me is that the rocking motion was so slow – a four second period. That’s considerably slower than my hammock, and reminds me more of drifting down the beach in a raft, another very easy way to fall asleep. If you click through to the blog article, you’ll find that the surprise for the researchers was the type of sleep and the quality of the sleep state that the rocking naps created. This might be promising for those with insomnia, but also those with brain injuries such as stroke which use these types of sleep periods to heal and restore the brain.

I’d love to see a study done on people sleeping during a massage when the client is gently rocked or moved in a slow fashion as described above.  Massage itself is relaxing, but perhaps part of that sleepiness that happens during a massage has to do with the slow, rocking movement of receiving a massage. I often have clients waken at the end of a session after sleeping for a good portion of the massage. And I have to confess, many of my best naps were on my massage therapists’ tables.

If you don’t have a hammock, or don’t like the heat, call your massage therapist for some gentle rocking and relaxation.

Photo Credit from Flickr.com CCL user: rosemilkinabottle

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