Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Infant Comfort Helps Adults Sleep Slightly Sooner

An infant comfort may lull adults to dreamland. The sensation of being rocked to sleep may help people of any age fall asleep sooner. By manipulating the sense of balance we can replicate the same feeling without ever moving.

The findings were published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. A sample of 198 healthy normal sleepers laid with their eyes closed, with electrodes attached as researchers tested the experimental technique in a sleep laboratory.

Half of the study participants received an electrical current to stimulate the nerves in the inner ear that that regulate balance. The sleepers claimed they felt like they were floating, rocking and swaying. The currents continued for an hour as the subjects tried to fall asleep.

People who were “rocked to sleep” fell asleep an average of 14 minutes faster than the subjects who received a sham treatment.

Researchers had hoped the experimental treatment would be a cure for short-term insomnia. Data shows the difference in sleep length and quality is fairly minimal.

Home use of the treatment would be impractical even if it made a major difference for insomnia. Sleeping every night while wearing special electrodes is unlikely and physically rocking a grown adult to sleep is ridiculous.

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