It’s next to impossible to get a good night’s rest when your body’s talking to you. Whatever it is – pain, soreness, aches, restlessness, these annoyances keep us awake and make us frustrated.
If you’re dealing with this regularly, it’s time for some relief. Enter your new best friend, the weighted blanket. These guys are as simple as they sound – blankets with weight in them, yet their benefits go beyond the simple concept.
They’re here to mitigate those late-night aches. Even though some suffer from chronic pain, while others are a bit tight from working out, everyone can benefit from introducing a weighted blanket into their sleep routine.
Natural Way To Relieve Pain
When you continuously experience loss of sleep from pain, over-the-counter medications may seem like a harmless solution. Some even need a doctor’s note in more chronic, severe cases.
But, unfortunately, blocking the pain temporarily via these little pills can have long-term consequences. These outcomes look like dependence, tolerance, and even addiction.
Luckily, we can try to step away from these with the purchase of a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets leverage deep touch pressure therapy (DTP), similar to the firm pressure we love so much from massages.
The weight, or pressure from hands when thinking about massages, grounds the body by applying consistent pressure, releasing tension. Kind of like when you press a knot in your back or shoulders until it dissipates, same concept but less painful. A couple of fingers digging into the back or shoulders may not be as appealing to some.
Fortunately, weighted blankets act immediately to ensure less time staring at the ceiling, wondering when to take the next dose of Tylenol. If you like a good firm hug, you’ll love these. Even if you don’t, the conditions they help may change your mind.
Weighted blankets can help relieve the following:
- General pain
- Chronic pain
- Back pain
- Sore muscles
- Body aches
- Joint pain
- Leg pain/Restless leg syndrome
Any of these sound familiar? Basically, weighted blankets alleviate pain stemming from your neck to your toes, mainly because that’s what they can safely cover.
The standard safety advice for these bedtime sleep tools is not to cover your face or head. Suffocation will likely reverse the calming effects, right? Take this simple precaution, and you’re on your way to dream town. Let’s dive more into how weighted blankets get you there.
1. Quiets the nervous system – The nervous system is what speaks to us when we get that zap of pain. That zap disrupts our sleep and is just downright uncomfortable. Firm pressure from a weighted blanket puts the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems at ease, controlling involuntary muscle movement and calming the mind. As long as you’re under the covers, the pain will subside, and sleep will happen without a doubt.
2. Regulates hormones – When hormones are out of wack, so are our mind and body. Cortisol is a critical pain-control hormone, and when this escalates, so does our bodily stress.
The DTP from weighted blankets has proven to lower cortisol, deactivating painful messengers. Cortisol is also the hormone that, when triggered, raises our pulse rate and blood pressure, preventing us from restful sleep.
Weighted blankets take it a step further to increase our happy hormones, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, putting the mind and body at rest. Serotonin sets up melatonin to do its thing, another hormone associated with pain perception. So weighted blankets save the day (or night) by decreasing cortisol and increasing melatonin – win-win.
They all fall under the understanding that targeted pressure relieves sore muscles. Regardless of where your pain stems from, it all is covered by your weighted blanket as it caresses your entire body (minus the head and face, of course). Weighted blankets keep the body still and calm, reducing pain and tension.
4. Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression – Recurring pain and lack of sleep can have consequences beyond the mattress. One who doesn’t sleep may wake up feeling depressed or anxious, increasing sensitivity to pain.
As this cycle repeats over time, it becomes a vicious pattern. Psychological factors are amongst several that affect the severity of pain we feel. Back to those hormones discussed, serotonin and dopamine play critical roles in maintaining our mental health.
The hug-like pressure from weighted blankets stimulates the release of these hormones to combat undesirable stressors and prevent them from occurring in the first place.
5. Ultimately betters sleep – one in four Americans with chronic pain reported a sleep disorder as well. Additionally, frequent nighttime wakings were the top complaint among the same group. As we all know or can imagine, this leads to lowered sleep quality and next-day alertness.
Researchers have also found that poor sleep leads to heightened pain. Do we see the association yet? Weighted blankets provide continuous pressure and comfort throughout the evening, soothing pain to allow for better sleep.
Relevant scientific studies
The science behind weighted blankets is still gaining traction, but the results discovered thus far are rather compelling.
Here are some of the findings:
- This randomized-controlled trial showed that a 15-lb weighted blanket significantly reduced broad perceptions of chronic pain in highly anxious individuals. These findings are relevant to patients and providers seeking home-based, nondrug therapies for chronic pain relief.
- This clinical crossover study found pressure variation provides a possible mechanism for the relief of chronic pain.
- This study found that weighted blankets are a safe and potentially effective way to help individuals manage anxiety.
- Weighted blankets showed a positive impact on falling asleep, sleeping the whole night, and relaxing during the day.
- Physical therapists in the field of integrated health consistently utilize weighted blankets to mitigate symptoms of chronic pain.
Hopefully, as weighted blankets keep strengthening their credit, more research will prove their effectiveness. But for now, we’ll take what we can get, and you’d just have to try one out for yourself.
How to use a weighted blanket for pain
There’s no secret for those with serious pain or soreness when it comes to weighted blankets. There are, however, a few basic guidelines to give you the best sleep experience possible:
- Your weighted blanket should weigh 10% of your body weight, give or take a few lbs.
- Pick a size that covers your body from your shoulders to your toes 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.
Nail these basic rules, and you’re all set for a beautiful night’s sleep. If you have any confusion over how to choose the perfect weighted blanket for you, check out this guide. But don’t fret. We know you’ll do just fine and fall in love with your new sleep buddy.
So to cap it off, if you’re experiencing pain that prevents you from getting quality sleep, a weighted blanket may be the perfect natural solution for you. They’re proven to lessen chronic pain and improve soreness while simultaneously lulling users to sleep. So skip the doctor’s visit and give these guys a go. If you have any concerns, maybe it’s safe to consult a healthcare professional. However, these blankets are safe and effective when used correctly. If you give them a shot, you won’t regret it.