Fight Insomnia by Rocking Yourself to Sleep

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

Anyone who has been around babies and young children knows one of the most natural things to do to get them to fall asleep is to rock them. Rocking is both soothing and sleep inducing, and can calm the most fussy of children. Whether you are in a rocking chair, holding them and rocking them in your arms, or if you let a swing rock them, sleep usually comes easy to a little one. The good news is that a recent study showed rocking can also bring sleep to adults.

For the study, performed in Geneva, Switzerland, researchers brought in adult men who had no sleep or anxiety issues. All the men were well-rested at the onset of the study. The study consisted of two 45-minute naps, but were not taken on the same day. All naps were taken in a bed that mimicked rocking, much like a hammock. However, during one nap, the bed rocked, and during the other nap, the bed remained motionless. Brain activity was measured during both naps using an electroencephalogram (EEG).

The results of the study showed that each of the men fell asleep faster during the rocking nap. They also moved more quickly between sleep stage one and sleep stage two. Sleep stage two is where half of all sleep time is spent in a normal sleeper. It is this stage where you are less likely to be awakened by sound and external stimulation.

In adiition, during the rocking nap all sleepers showed an increase in the type of brain wave activity that is associated with more restful, deep, and continuous sleeping. The results of the study showed that a rocking motion helps the brain synchronize for sleep, fall asleep more quickly and to possibly have longer, uninterrupted sleep.

If you’ve ever rested in a hammock, floated on water in a float or raft, or simply set in a rocking chair and rocked, you already know that it is relaxing. The repetitive motion is soothing and peaceful to the mind and body. With science now beginning to back up the fact that rocking does induce sleep in adults, this could be a real breakthrough for insomniacs who are looking for a natural way to fall asleep and stay asleep.

As more research is done and the science behind the benefits of rocking for adults becomes more widely known, it is sure to have an impact on the bed business. Short of hanging a hammock in your bedroom, ideally an affordable adult bed that mimics gentle rocking may soon be on the horizon.


Bayer, Laurence. "Rocking Synchronizes Brain Waves during a Short Nap." Current Biology. June 21, 2011. Accessed June 2, 2015.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.