What is a weighted blanket?
Simply put, weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like – blankets that have weight to them. They are also known as calming blankets, sensory blankets or anxiety blankets. They are a quilt with sewn-in pockets of beads, sand, barley or another small, weighted object. For the blanket to be most effective, it must weight between 10% and 12% of the total body weight of the user. Weighted blankets have been around for generations, but have only recently become popular, due to more scientific research into the benefits and advancements in manufacturing technology. Medical professionals recommend weighted blankets to reduce stress and anxiety, and they are particularly valuable as an aid for those with autism, multiple sclerosis (MS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More recently, weighted blankets have been marketed as a sleep aid so we thought we’d explore the question ‘do weighted blankets help you sleep?’ Read on to find out the answer.
How do weighted blankets work?
The weight that comes with the weighted blanket is often described as mimicking a hug – something that offers a sense of security, comfort, reassurance and funnily enough, gravity. Gravity, you may ask? Studies have shown that gravity helps to relax the central nervous system by stimulating the sensation of being held or receiving a hug. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders came to the conclusion that “a weighted blanket that’s more than 10% of a person’s body weight has been found to provide beneficial, calming effects”. The same study had also concluded that adults who slept with the weighted blanket, found it easier to settle in to bed and woke up feeling more refreshed due to a better sleep quality. These people have also reported a relief of pain, lower anxiety and improved mood.
Who can benefit from sleeping with a weighted blanket?
Whilst there is continuous research being undertaken, weighted blankets reportedly provide improved quality of sleep among adults, particularly those with autism, ADHD, anxiety, insomnia and sleep disorders, osteoarthritis, and chronic pain. Anxiety can negatively affect sleep which in turn, intensifies symptoms of anxiety, and becomes a cycle. One study, by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, found that adults sleeping with a weighted blanket noticed improvements in symptoms of insomnia, as well as anxiety. This study concluded that weighted blanks were an effective and safe intervention method for insomnia in patients with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or ADHD. Not only did the weighted blanket improve the participants sleep quality, but they also reported an improvement in daytime insomnia symptoms, and increased levels of energy.
Research into adults sleeping with a weighted blanket has shown promising results. The pressure from a weighted blanket is similar to a hug – research has shown that giving or receiving a hug releases the hormone oxytocin, a relaxant. Weighted blankets have the same effect, reportedly releasing oxytocin, as well as dopamine and serotonin, hormones that have a calming effect on anxiety and stress.
Weighted blankets may also improve sleep quality due to them simulating something called ‘deep touch pressure’ (DTP). This is known as a tactile sensory input that’s achieved by holding, stroking, hugging, swaddling and squeezing and is proven to calm people suffering from anxiety. Studies in a clinical trial have shown that adults who sleep with a weighted blanket recorded a lower heart rate, which also brought down their skin conductance level (basically, how much they perspire). Another recent study concluded that a weighted blanket improved adults’ ability to fall asleep, stay asleep the whole night, feel rested upon waking up and feel relaxed during the day.
Which weighted blankets are best?
With the research, statistics, and facts we have now, it is evident that weighted blankets are beneficial for sleep in adults. Not only do they help release hormones that benefit our bodies, they are proven to help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, wake up more refreshed and have higher energy levels during the day.
Here are some factors to be considered when purchasing a weighted blanket:
- Size of the weighted blanket. Weighted blankets come in many sizes including: lap blankets, single blankets, double blankets, queen blankets, king blankets and custom sizes.
- Weight of the blanket. For it to be most effective, it needs to be between 10% and 12% of your total body weight.
- Materials used to make the blanket and weights. Take into account any allergies you could have to the fabric or the weighted insides. The fabric should also be soft on the skin for sleeping purposes. Some products used for the weight in these blankets can cause a slight rustling sound. If you are using it for sleep, check out the reviews to see if its noise-free. You may also find machine-washable options are a priority for you.
- Climate and comfortable sleeping temperature. Weighted blankets can be hot so if you live in a hot place or are a hot sleeper opt for one that has been made specifically with thin, breathable fabric.
- Where the blanket is made. We recommend buying from an Australian company as they are high quality and also shipping a weighted blanket overseas can be costly!
- Weight distribution and inner ties. The weight in a weighted blanket should be evenly distributed. Choose a blanket that ensures the weights stay sewn into their pockets and remain even within the cover due to attachments (often referred to as inner ties)
We love Calming Blankets weighted blankets because they are soft, evenly weighted and use non-toxic, noise-free glass beads. Their weighted blankets are designed to help relieve the symptoms of insomnia, stress, anxiety and various sensory disorders. These blankets are so good that they are rated as Australia’s top weighted blanket on ProductReview and Facebook. People have reported feelings of reduced stress, soothed minds and deeper, more restful sleep whilst using their Calming Blanket.
Calming blankets come in a variety of sizes, colours and materials. The winter version has a super soft vegan-friendly minky cover, and for those summer nights or hot sleepers, there is a breathable Lycocell bamboo option.
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