Please welcome Dr. Anthony DiMarco, MD, Medical Director and Professor of Physiology at Case Western Reserve University
Weighted blankets folded and stacked.

Can Weighted Blankets Help You Sleep Better?

Can Weighted Blankets Help You Sleep Better?

Around this time of year in Ohio, it can be tempting to stay snuggled up in bed all day. With dark, cold weather outside, getting out from under the covers can seem like an impossible feat. But one product, that has been gaining popularity recently, seems to be helping many wake up feeling more rested. Though it may make getting up an even more dreaded task, who wouldn’t like a bit more energy during the day?

Weighted blankets have gained a lot of attention in the last year as a simple trick for getting better sleep. But we were curious to know if this popular wellness product actually helps people get more Z’s.

Get Cozy with a Weighted Blanket

If you are looking to familiarize yourself with this trendy type of blanket, here’s the fluff-free truth. As the name suggests, weighted blankets are designed to be heavier than the average cover. Designed as either a throw or duvet, they can be made with heavy materials integrated into the fabric or inserted into an inner layer.

Some versions use glass beads, plastic pellets, or chains – in place of feathers or fiberfill – to add weight. By separating the blanket into sections, the weight is evenly distributed independently of someone’s position underneath. They usually weigh between 10 and 30 pounds in total.

Do Weighted Blankets Equal Heavy Eyelids?

Anyone who has heard of a weighted blanket, but who hasn’t had the chance to try one wants to know – “do they work?” Yes, they could; it seems like the application of science here is legit. Advertising claims that they can help you feel less stress, fall asleep faster, and sleep more soundly. Others claim that a weighted blanket can help calm people with attention, anxiety and sleep disorders or find relief from ailments that keep them awake. It seems that there is some truth to these claims.

The concept of weighted blankets isn’t new. It originates from a type of therapy called pressure stimulation. Scientists have known for some time that deep pressure tends to relax the nervous system. It’s the same reasoning behind swaddling babies. And we often experience the calming sensation of pressure in our everyday lives through massage, hugs and comforting embraces. One notable researcher, Dr. Temple Grandin, found that compression worked to reduce her own anxiety stemming from Autism. This discovery has been the basis for compression devices and therapy used, for decades now, in psychiatric and therapeutic settings.

When put to the test, 68% of people using a weighted blanket reported decreased feelings of anxiety. Another research study found that adults who used a weighted blanket slept longer and woke up less during the night. When compared to regular bedding, they had “a calmer night’s sleep,” according to the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders.

Why Should You Curl Up with a Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets are simply a way for the average person to benefit from deep pressure. By providing a warm, soothing sensation, the blankets offer a number of positive effects. Pressure releases oxytocin in the brain which leads to a lower heart rate and decreased levels of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine.

Like a comforting hug or deep massage, this helps people feel more calm and happy. Cozy compression is also believed to boost dopamine and serotonin levels. In turn, this translates to increased melatonin, the hormone which induces relaxation and supports the natural sleep cycle.

Can Weighted Blankets Do More than Calm Your Nerves?

Weighted blanket believers say that these are no cushy claims. Wrapping up with a heavy throw or sleeping with a weighted comforter has real-life applications. Though it hasn’t been proven to help with all types of health issues, users may uncover some personal benefits.

Insomnia

Research has shown that weighted blankets helped patients with insomnia to settle down and fall asleep, sleep better through the night, and wake up feeling more rested.

Sleep Problems

Other people who do not have a diagnosed sleep disorder, yet struggle to get good quality sleep, have also found relief. They report spending less time trying to fall asleep and sleeping more deeply throughout the night.

Attention Disorders

Weighted blankets and vests are now being widely used to help children and adults with ADD, ADHD, and other attention disorders to calm down and focus on tasks.

Should Everyone Use a Weighted Blanket?

Adults and older children can use weighted blankets as bed covers or for relaxing during the day. They are safe to use for sleeping throughout the night.

However, they are not for everyone. They are not recommended for children under the age of 2, for example. If you have conditions including obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, or claustrophobia, you should consult with a doctor before pulling up the covers.

What’s Keeping You Up at Night?

Maybe it is time to get evaluated at a certified sleep clinic. Ask your doctor about your options. It could help provide answers about your sleep problems and how to get the quality rest that you need. Contact Sleep Health Solutions at (330) 923-0228 to schedule a consultation.

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