There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to get you through the day. I’d never had a problem nodding off, until I took on a tough new assignment.
Anxious about making deadlines, I suddenly found it difficult to drift off. I was battling stress, tossing and turning throughout the night. A friend shared with me the benefits of using a weighted blanket. I made the investment and I haven’t looked back.
A weighted blanket, also known as an anxiety or gravity blanket is like covering yourself in a great big hug. Its grounding effect has helped me to relax and sleep throughout the night.
What is a weighted blanket?
Not surprisingly weighted blankets are heavier than your average blanket thanks to the filling which weighs them down.
A weighted blanket looks like a comforter or duvet. But instead of filling the blankets with down or cotton, manufacturers fill them with glass or plastic beads or pellets.
The blanket is divided into several pockets to keep the beads evenly distributed.
Weighted blankets were first introduced to help children and adults who suffered from stress and anxiety. They’ve been used by occupational therapists for years.
Now the idea has moved from the doctor’s office into the homes of people seeking the benefits of the comforting weight.
The pressure from weighted blankets mimics the comfort offered by Deep Pressure Stimulation, a pressure system that is used to relax the body.
Although there has not been a lot of research into the benefits of weighted blankets anecdotal evidence suggests that the weight of the blanket helps to reduce the anxiety that causes insomnia.
The benefits of weighted blankets
Weighted blankets were initially used to help people with sensory processing disorders. It was found that children with autism benefited from these therapeutic blankets.
More and more, however, they’re now used to help those with insomnia to get a good night’s sleep. They can also help to calm restless legs, encouraging better sleep.
I find that the weight of the blanket gives me a sense of being swaddled. Together with the warmth it offers a sense of safety, ensuring comfortable and long-lasting sleep.
Since I’ve been using one, I find that I wake relaxed and ready to face whatever the day throws my way. There is some evidence to support my experience.
Research published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine found that the participants who suffered from insomnia slept for longer and spent less time awake when they used a weighted blanket. The participants said that they found it easier to fall asleep and that they woke up more refreshed in the morning.
One of the main uses of weighted blankets is to reduce anxiety. Recent research has confirmed that sleeping under a weighted blanket significantly reduces stress and anxiety. 68% of the participants in this study reported feeling less anxious after sleeping under a thirty-pound weighted blanket.
Research has shown that touch therapy reduces the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone in the body. Elevated cortisol levels induce the fight or flight response and they’re responsible for feelings of anxiety and depression that can lead to sleeplessness.
At the same time, touch therapy increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones. These hormones also send signals to our bodies when it’s time to sleep, and they help to combat stress and anxiety.
Improve your daytime performance
Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on daytime performance. From my own perspective I can report that my concentration has improved and that I feel a lot more positive and productive since I’ve put aside my problems with sleeplessness.
My personal experience is backed by research which found that children with ADHD fell asleep more quickly when they slept under a weighted blanket.
Teachers reported that the children performed as much as 10% better in attention span and activity levels when they slept under a weighted blanket.
Choosing a weighted blanket
Weighted blankets differ substantially in weight, ranging from four pounds to thirty pounds. The best one for you will depend on your body weight. The blanket should weight between 5% and 10% of your body weight.
Also take account of the size of the blanket when choosing. A 15-pound double weighted blanket will feel a lot heavier than a king size blanket of a similar weight.
Choose a blanket made from a natural fibre cover to ensure that it is breathable and cooler. A machine washable cover makes for easy maintenance.
The blanket should not restrict your mobility, nor should it be too difficult to handle.
They are not cheap so it may be worth reading some weighted blanket reviews before choosing your own.
If you have any health concerns, you should consult your doctor before buying a weighted blanket. This is particularly important if you have circulatory or respiratory problems or if you have difficulty regulating body temperature.
Sleep well, live well
Sleep deprivation affects every aspect of your life. It’s subjective and absolutely my personal opinion, but using a weighted blanket has resolved my problems with sleeplessness. I fall asleep quickly and sleep for longer.
As a consequence, I can concentrate, and I have so much more energy. Life’s good!