The Effect of a Slowly Rocking Bed on Sleep.
Omlin X., Crivelli F., Näf M., Heinicke L., Skorucak J., Malafeev A., Fernandez Guerrero A., Riener R., Achermann P.
Rocking movements appear to affect human sleep. Recent research suggested a facilitated transition from wake to sleep and a boosting of slow oscillations and sleep spindles due to lateral rocking movements during an afternoon nap. This study aimed at investigating the effect of vestibular stimulation on sleep onset, nocturnal sleep and its potential to increase sleep spindles and slow waves, which could influence memory performance. Polysomnography was recorded in 18 males (age: 20-28 years) during three nights: movement until sleep onset (C1), movement for 2 hours (C2), and one baseline (B) without motion. Sleep dependent changes in memory performance were assessed with a word-pair learning task. Although subjects preferred nights with vestibular stimulation, a facilitated sleep onset or a boost in slow oscillations was not observed. N2 sleep and the total number of sleep spindles increased during the 2 h with vestibular stimulation (C2) but not over the entire night. Memory performance increased over night but did not differ between conditions. The lack of an effect might be due to the already high sleep efficiency (96%) and sleep quality of our subjects during baseline. Nocturnal sleep in good sleepers might not benefit from the potential facilitating effects of vestibular stimulation.