- A Natural and Safe Treatment for Insomnia
- How Do Weighted Blankets Help with Insomnia
- Relevant Studies
- How to Use a Weighted Blanket if You Have Insomnia
It can’t get much worse than not sleeping at night, especially when this is a recurring event. Insomnia tends to translate into many other disorders we would typically like to veer away from, including depression, anxiety, and even chronic illnesses.
Any of these combined would be a pretty unfortunate mix. Many times, even if we just suffer from insomnia alone, we can feel like we pulled the short stick.
We’re here to offer you a light at the end of the tunnel or some hope. Whether you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up energized, we’ve discovered something that may alleviate these difficulties. Our proposed solution is simple – weighted blankets.
A Natural Solution
If you’ve ended up here, it’s likely that you or someone you know is looking for an effective treatment, potentially one that’s natural.
Sleeping pills can seem like a great quick fix at first, but we may realize they’re either addictive or diminish in effectiveness after so long. While a more mindful bedtime routine and addressing underlying causes in therapy are helpful, sometimes we just need that extra boost.
Weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like – blankets with weight in them.
Sounds simple, yet they can have profound effects on sleep and provide additional health benefits.
The evenly distributed weight offers a grounding effect on the body, lightly pressing you into your mattress.
Grounding is a similar practice to that of massage therapy or hands-on pressure therapy, yet we don’t have to leave our beds. Plus, there’s no medication or doctor’s script necessary. Let’s dig deeper into why they work.
How Do Weighted Blankets Help With Insomnia
1.) Hormone Regulation
Hormones play a bigger role in our basic functioning than they may get credit for. Their role in sleep is especially important.
We’ve got a few key players: cortisol (stress hormone), serotonin and dopamine (happy hormones), and melatonin (sleep hormone). All of these guys interact and communicate with each other to create our human mind and body experience.
When cortisol increases, so does our alertness and anxiety. When serotonin and dopamine are low, we are tired and depressed and vice versa.
Did you know that serotonin sets up the production of melatonin? A common medication diagnosed for insomnia patients is antidepressants. This medication makes sense because these work to produce more serotonin and, thus, melatonin. No need for drugs when weighted blankets are available.
The pressure from the blanket allows the body to feel secure and less reactive, giving our happy hormones the go-ahead to make their way to their rightful homes, now giving us a sense of calm and preparing the body for a great night’s sleep. What more could we ask for from a blanket?
2.) Deep Touch Pressure Therapy (DTP)
Now that we’ve learned a bit about our fabulous, hard-working hormones, we can venture more into how they work with touch. Are you aware of how many hugs we need a day to maintain a baseline of functioning? 8-10.
That’s a lot for some of us, and they aren’t always widely available, especially over the last year. But fear not, weighted blankets leverage deep touch pressure therapy to make up for gaps between human embraces.
DTP involves the practice of grounding the body via light pressure to relax the nervous system. Once the body and mind are relaxed, we are more inclined to restful sleep.
Pressure stimulates the release of our happy hormones while reducing cortisol, allowing for the slumber party to get started. So we can see here how DTP, and weighted blankets, can alleviate symptoms from insomnia and piggybacking disorders like anxiety and depression. Pretty cool that they can all be summoned to step aside by a blanket with weight in it.
3.) Fall Asleep Faster
Back to the main reason we’re here – sleep! Insomnia is likely to drive anyone to seek instant relief, but who says help needs to come from a pill bottle? What do sleeping pills do for users anyways? Long story short, they make your body less responsive to stressors and inhibit the nervous system from high reactivity, lulling you to sleep.
What if we told you that weighted blankets do the same thing? Wait, that’s really why you’re here.
We know weighted blankets tell the nervous system to kick it down a few notches, but more specifically, the sympathetic nervous system that’s ordered to relax.
The sympathetic system is the area responsible for fight or flight response, turned on by stressors. When your brain is running a million miles per hour before and during bedtime, you can kiss sleep goodbye. When weighted blankets caress the body, we can wave hello to some z’s. The body becomes grounded instantly and understands it is time for bed quickly.
4.) Have Quality Sleep All Night Long
Now we know how weighted blankets gently ease us into quality sleep, but what guarantees that we will remain asleep throughout the evening?
It’s prevalent among those with insomnia to experience spotty sleep, which prevents them from entering a deeply restful state. Interrupted sleep can translate into malfunctions in everyday life, including memory, physical and mental well-being, and emotional soundness. Positive alterations in lifestyle and bedtime habits help before you hit the sheets; adding a weighted blanket to your sleep environment combats interruptions as you sleep.
Once your weighted blanket has knocked you out, nicely of course, its continuous pressure will assure uninterrupted sleep. Prolonged DTP, or pressure, ensures advantages will be offered as long as it’s on. The main benefits of quality sleep involve increasing serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin with a decrease in cortisol as you snooze. More happy hormones circulating in the early hours and less stressful ones equals more uninterrupted sleep.
5.) Helps Mitigate Anxiety and Depression
People living with Insomnia are often no strangers to anxiety and depression. These two unfavorable conditions can either cause the onset of insomnia or can result from a lack of sleep.
Whether it’s the chicken or the egg, treatments have some commonalities to subside these conditions. Most involve lowering heart and breathing rates and calming the nervous system. As your body slows, the mind follows. I think you know where we’re going with this.
The pressure from weighted blankets tells the autonomic nervous system to relax, the first step in exiting fight or flight mode. Next, the grounding effect communicates with cortisol, telling it to chill out and subside. Elevated cortisol levels are associated with anxiety, depression, and insomnia, so let’s reduce them. You probably get the point, but just know, DTP has your back in calming the mind-body connection. However, if you’re not entirely convinced yet, we have some research coming your way.
We’ve come across a few studies to put our money where our mouths are. While more research needs to be done for conclusive evidence, there are some serious findings out there suggesting the healing powers of weighted blankets in reducing insomnia and confounding conditions. Check them out:
- A study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that the intervention by the weighted blanket resulted in significantly better sleep maintenance, a higher daytime activity level, and reduced daytime symptoms of fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
- This systematic review by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy suggests weighted blankets as an appropriate therapeutic tool in reducing anxiety.
- The Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine reported that grounding the human body during sleep improves sleep and reduces pain and stress.
- This research article found 3% demonstrated lowering in electrodermal activity (stimulation) when using the weighted blanket, 63% reported lower anxiety after use, and 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality.
- A study in the Journal of Sleep Medicines & Disorders found that insomnia participants liked sleeping with the blanket, found it easier to settle down to sleep, and had an improved sleep, where they felt more refreshed in the morning. Overall, they had a calmer night’s sleep.
These are just a few findings that support our argument, but feel free to dive into the belly of the internet beast. If you trust us, we know you won’t be left disappointed.
How To Use A Weighted Blanket With Insomnia
Luckily, weighted blankets follow a one size fits all approach when it comes to use. Sometimes we can feel as if insomnia is not a shared experience but just know that weighted blankets serve all humans with sleep dilemmas.
One thing all must do (or not do) – don’t cover your head or face with your weighted blanket. Suffocating isn’t relaxing, so just don’t do it. And while weighted blankets are made for each and every one of us, there are a few standard rules of thumb to consider before purchasing the perfect weighted blanket for you:
- Your weighted blanket should weigh 10% of your body weight, give or take a few lbs.
- Pick a size that covers your body and doesn’t hang too far over the bed.
- Choose a fabric with optimal temperature, texture, and breathability for your ideal sleep situation.
- Opt for a filling that avoids any allergy, sensory, or tactile sensitivities.
If you have any concerns about picking a blanket that fits all your wants and needs, check out our more comprehensive guide to selecting a weighted blanket. Do your homework ASAP so you may begin to reap the benefits. We are so excited for you!
And there you have it – a new natural remedy to fight insomnia and its naggy counterparts. We hope you feel confident and inspired in your weighted blanket journey. Now get to sleep!