Initially used by occupational therapists to help ease autism-related anxiety and sensory processing difficulties, weighted blankets (sometimes also called insomnia blankets) are now becoming bedroom staples.
Weighted blankets are proven to reduce anxiety, can relieve pain, and also improve attention span. But can these blankets help lull you to sleep if you’re battling severe insomnia?
Do Weighted Blankets Really Treat Insomnia?
In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM), it was revealed that weighted blankets alleviated insomnia in patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. The participants — all of whom had diagnoses of insomnia — also dealt with a range of co-occurring psychiatric disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, or bipolar disorder.
The Swedish researchers who conducted the study found improved sleep, reduced sleepiness, greater activity levels during daytime hours, as well as a reduction in the severity of insomnia were all identifiable benefits for patients who used a weighted blanket for sleep.
Less Stress, More Rest
But that's not all — the study also showed drastically reduced levels of depression, fatigue, and anxiety in participants who slept under weighted blankets. According to Swedish psychiatrist Dr. Mats Alder, one explanation for the calming and sleep-promoting effects is that the pressure a weighted blanket applies to different body points stimulates the sensation of touch, similar to acupressure and massage.
How weighted blankets work is a frequently asked question among those considering a weighted blanket to help sleep. To break the answer down a little further, Alder explains that the study’s evidence suggests deep pressure stimulation interacts with the nervous system in a way that causes a calming effect. This, in turn, allows the patient to drift off to sleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer.
Alder’s explanation of how heavy blankets for insomnia work aligns with earlier occupational therapy research demonstrating how weighted blankets can cue deep touch pressure or DTP’s therapeutic benefits. Effective DTP results in a relaxed state of body and mind – bringing along effortless, deeper sleep.
Commentary Calls For Further Research
Even though weighted blankets for anxiety or insomnia are now mainstream products, bringing the health benefits of DTP into our everyday lives, there is still a need for further research.
In a related commentary to the insomnia study, Dr. William McCall, a specialist in Sleep Medicine and Psychiatry, discussed the results as supporting a psychoanalytic theory referred to as 'holding environment.'
One aspect of this theory states that touch satisfies a basic human need, resulting in feelings of calmness and comfort – much like the feeling of our mothers holding us as infants or the second-to-none feeling of the embrace of a loved one.
McCall encourages health providers to consider this psychoanalytic theory alongside the physiological findings of the insomnia study. He calls on research not just for the possible impact of different sleeping surfaces and beddings on the quality of sleep but also for further research exploring and confirming weighted blanket benefits.
Tips For Choosing A Weighted Blanket For Adult Insomnia
With so many different types of weighted blankets coming on the market in recent years, it’s normal to be a little undecided on what kind of weighted blanket is best. If you suffer from insomnia, chances are you would benefit from investing in a heavier option blanket that ensures evenly-distributed weight all through the night.
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Here are a few tips on choosing a weighted blanket for insomnia.
Heavier is better
The recommended weighted blanket weight is 10% of your body weight. People battling insomnia often report that using a blanket that goes beyond the 10% rule is helpful. If you have insomnia we recommend bumping up to one of our heavier options: our Nappers are available in 15 lb, 20 lb, and 25 lb weight options.
Conventional weighted blankets are made by filling the inner lining with pockets of plastic pellets or beads. Despite being useful in making the blanket heavy, these fillers can pile-up into a corner, unevenly distributing the weight. Instead of using synthetic fillers, we’ve figured out a way to layer organic cotton fabric to create a weighted yarn that’s then used to hand-knit our Nappers.
The result is a filler-free weighted blanket that ensures evenly distributed weight and ultimately more effective DTP. You can also rest assured your sleep won’t be disturbed by the noise of beads moving around inside your blanket.
Breathability is key
Skeptical about the high body heat traditional weighted blankets tend to bring? Our knitted weighted blankets are innovatively designed with an open-loop knit pattern to ensure air circulation and increase breathability.
Coupled with the fact that we use only natural, organic fibers to hand-craft our products, your chances of getting slow-cooked under the weight of a Bearaby blanket are zero – the same number of synthetics you’ll find in our products.
Taking care of ourselves as well as the planet lies at the heart of our little business, and all our Nappers meet stringent sustainability criteria. From using sustainably sourced materials, to socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing methods, to our plastic-free packaging policy, we keep the greenest production practices top of mind. This means you can sleep well, knowing your weighted blanket is planet-kind.
Study Reveals Effectiveness Of Weighted Blankets For Insomnia
Weighted blankets are touted as a naturally sleep-inducing, stress-relieving therapeutic tool. But can a heavy blanket really bring better sleep for those battling insomnia? A recent study showed promising results.
A new study about the effects of weighted blankets on insomnia was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine on September 15th, 2020.
The study revealed that a weighted blanket improves sleep and reduces the severity of insomnia. It also demonstrated participants experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression after using a weighted blanket for 4 weeks.
Keep reading for a summarized version of this study’s findings and tips for choosing the best weighted blanket for insomnia.
Did you know?
Research shows that nearly 40 million Americans struggle with insomnia each year