Two new studies, one conducted in young adults and the other in mice, add to evidence for the broad benefits of a rocking motion during sleep. In fact, the studies in people show that rocking not only leads to better sleep, but it also boosts memory consolidation during sleep. The researchers enlisted 18 healthy young adults to undergo sleep monitoring in the lab with continuous rocking during a 45-minute nap. To assess memory consolidation, participants studied word pairs. The researchers then measured their accuracy in recalling those paired words in an evening session compared to the next morning when they woke up. They found that people did better on the morning test when they were rocked during sleep.
Further studies showed that rocking affects brain oscillations during sleep. The continuous rocking motion helped to synchronize neural activity in the thalamo-cortical networks of the brain, which play an important role in both sleep and memory consolidation. The study may provide novel clinical insights to cope with sleep disorders.