The Rocking Bed Project presents an alternative solution to age-related sleep disorders and decline in sleep quality. Today, more than half of seniors complain of sleep disorders, but there are very few remedies, let alone healthy solutions. The loss of deep sleep and memory lapses are two of the most common signs of aging, and are also among the most detrimental to quality of life. To address this a cross-sectoral team of researchers in health, engineering, natural sciences and humanities have set out to investigate and test the feasibility of the Rocking Bed system for older adults.
The system takes inspiration from the gentle rocking motion that helps infants sleep. In a previous study, researchers built an adult size "rocking bed" and invited young adults to try it for one night. The adults not only slept more deeply thanks to the rocking, but demonstrated better memory the next day.
This system is used with a sample of older people in their homes, and the design integrates the complementary expertise of engineers, neuroscientists and gerontotechnologists. The elderly community members are co-constructors providing feedback and suggestions through focus groups led by experts in applied human sciences that are incorporated into the design. The finished product will then be tested by neuroscientists to assess sleep quality and neuronal rhythms in relation to memory performance, in order to better understand the link between sleep and memory for seniors. The success of this project would open the door to a larger study on the effects of the Rocking Bed system in the general population, and help seniors finally find a good night's sleep.