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For centuries, rocking has been used to promote sleep in babies or toddlers. Recent research suggested that relaxation could play a role in facilitating the transition from waking to sleep during rocking. Breathing techniques are often used to promote relaxation. However, studies investigating head motions and body rotations showed that vestibular stimulation might elicit a vestibulo-respiratory response, leading to an increase in respiration frequency. An increase in respiration frequency would not be considered to promote relaxation in the first place. On the other hand, a coordination of respiration to rhythmic vestibular stimulation has been observed. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the effect of different movement frequencies and amplitudes on respiration frequency. Furthermore, we tested whether subjects adapt their respiration to movement frequencies below their spontaneous respiration frequency at rest, which could be beneficial for relaxation. Twenty-one healthy subjects (24-42 years, 12 males) were investigated using an actuated bed, moving along a lateral translation. Following movement frequencies were applied: +30%, +15%, -15%, and -30% of subjects' rest respiration frequency during baseline (no movement). Furthermore, two different movement amplitudes were tested (Amplitudes: 15 cm, 7.5 cm; movement frequency: 0.3 Hz). In addition, five subjects (25-28 years, 2 males) were stimulated with their individual rest respiration frequency. Rocking movements along a lateral translation caused a vestibulo-respiratory adaptation leading to an increase in respiration frequency. The increase was independent of the applied movement frequencies or amplitudes but did not occur when stimulating with subjects' rest respiration frequency. Furthermore, no synchronization of the respiration frequency to the movement frequency was observed. In particular, subjects did not lower their respiration frequency below their resting frequency. Hence, it was not feasible to influence respiration in a manner that might be considered beneficial for relaxation.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adult, Child, Preschool, Female, Heart Rate, Humans, Male, Motion, Relaxation, Respiration, Respiratory Rate, Young Adult