When the weighted blanket scored $5 million on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, a lot of people got awestruck. Most of us couldn't believe that a blanket has the potential to redefine the way we sleep. Originally designed for autistic kids, the weighted blankets for anxiety have become a lifestyle product within just a few years. Even people who are not suffering from any kind of sleep problems are buying the heavy blankets to enjoy the ‘cozy hug’ they offer. In this blog, we will discuss what these weighted blankets for insomnia are and how they are able to help you get a peaceful, undisturbed sleep.
What are weighted blankets and how do they work?
Although being termed as the ‘new age comforters’, weighted blanket have been in used for decades for therapeutic purposes, especially for calming down the kids with autistic disorders. As obvious from their name, they are blankets that carry additional weight in the form of fillings. The fillings could be glass beads or poly-pellets. Some manufacturers use rice, beans, and other fillings but glass beads and poly-pellets are the most comfortable ones. The fabric of the weighted blankets could be anything from cotton to silk but we strongly recommend pure cotton so that you don’t feel hot inside it. Keeping yourself cool under the weighted blanket can become a challenge which is why you must buy something that is made of pure cotton. AG weighted blankets are very popular on Amazon because they offer 100% satisfaction guarantee. These blankets are made of natural cotton and have glass beads filling. Glass beads give you a smooth and cozy touch. AG blankets are also very affordable as compared to many other popular products. You can check out its features here.
The theory behind the invention of weighted blankets is very simple. When used, they provide a firm, deep pressure to your body that feels as if somebody is hugging you tightly. This cocooning feeling stimulates the nervous system and helps get rid of stress. Some people also feel that the weighted blankets give them a feeling of stroking, swaddling, and even a massage. This pressure that the weighted blanket creates on your body is a kind of therapy known as Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). DPT is clinically proven to stimulate the secretion of serotonin, the happy hormone that helps you calm down. (1)
Are weighted blankets effective for insomnia and other sleep disorders?
Yes, absolutely and the answer is very obvious. We all feel happy and relaxed when we are being hugged by our spouse, children, or parents. When we go to bed in a happy, calm mood, we are more likely to fall asleep quickly and easily. This is exactly what the weighted blankets for insomnia does.
A study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders concluded that weighted blankets help people with insomnia feel more settled before bed, thereby helping them get quality sleep. The study was conducted on 31 adults suffering from insomnia. The group who used weighted blankets slept longer and spent less awake time as compared to those who slept without weighted blankets. (2) The extra weight on their body decreased their tossing and turning activities during the night, thereby helping them get an undisturbed sleep.
The study stated that the weighted blankets stimulate the nervous system to release melatonin, a hormone that tells us that it's time to sleep. Serotonin hormone is required for the secretion of melatonin. So, this means, first the blankets arouse the nervous system to secrete serotonin, that makes you feel relaxed and then, serotonin helps secrete melatonin that makes you feel sleepy.
Other than this study, a recent article published by the Harvard Medical School states that weighted blankets are one of the common sensory tools used by their psychiatric units. They often use weighted blankets and other sensory tools such as a cold object, building objects, aromatic objects, etc. to calm down the patients. Dr. Cristina Cusin, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has stated that these blankets do the same thing that swaddling does to the newborns. They make people feel more secure so that they can doze off quickly. (3)
Who can use weighted blankets for sleeplessness?
Weighted blankets are safe for almost everyone except toddlers. We do not recommend heavy blankets for kids below 2 years, as there is a risk of suffocation. If you are suffering from insomnia you can safely use this blanket to calm down your nervous system and help you get quality sleep. Sleeplessness is a common problem among adults as well as among senior citizens. Whether you are detected with insomnia or not, you can order this blanket for yourself or for your aging parents. Other than insomnia, weighted blankets are helpful for people suffering from anxiety, restless leg syndrome, aggressive behavior, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, seizure disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or any other issue that can disturb sleep or cause anxiety.
How to buy a weighted blanket for insomnia?
- Weight: Insomnia and anxiety blankets are available in various weight but you can’t just buy any of them. Manufacturers and sleep experts suggest that you must buy an insomnia blanket that weights 10% of your body weight plus 1-2 pounds. So, if your weight is 150 pounds, you need to buy a blanket that weighs approximately 17 pounds.
- Fabric: Remember that an insomnia blanket is a therapeutic tool and not a lifestyle addition. So, make sure you don’t fall in for colors, textures, and attractiveness. You need to choose something that makes you comfortable enough to doze off easily. We, therefore, suggest that you must buy blankets that are made of 100% pure natural cotton. Blended fabrics look attractive but they can make you feel hot and uncomfortable after some time.
- Filling: Depending on the price and quality of the blanket, it could be filled with rice, beans, metal beads, poly-pellets, glass beads, and other materials. We understand that the whole idea of the weighted blanket is to put something heavy on you so that you feel hugged but the quality of filling does matter a lot. Rice and beans can make you feel hot. Poly-pellets are good but they are bigger in size as compared to glass beads and, therefore, they may not give you a very smooth feeling. However, a lot of people still like them. We recommend glass beads because they are very tiny in size and they will give you a smooth feeling.
Where to buy weighted blankets for insomnia?
Weighted blankets have gained a lot of popularity these days and, therefore, many online stores have started selling them. You can even buy them from your nearby Target and Walmart stores but we suggest that you must be careful, as a lot of cheap, substandard products have occupied the shelves of these stores and the online stores too.
You must not buy just any blanket that is heavy. The weight of the blanket needs to be distributed uniformly and it must be comfortable to use too. There are only a handful of manufacturers who are selling properly designed weighted blankets for insomnia. AG weighted blanket is one of them. As mentioned above, AG weighted blankets for insomnia have smaller squares of fillings so the weight is distributed evenly, even to the sides and corners. The fabric and fillings are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and odorless, so it is suitable for allergic people too. It comes with a 3-year warranty, which itself speaks a lot above the quality of the product. Not many manufacturers are offering such a long warranty. You can safely order one for yourself and, if you don’t the product, you can ask for a refund. AG blankets are sold on Amazon. Here is the link to it.
There are a lot of websites that offer DIY instructions for making your own weighted blanket. We are not sure how successful these DIY blankets would be. If you are having sleepless nights, we suggest that you should buy one instead of DIYing.
Weighted blankets for insomnia: Final words
If sleepless nights are troubling you and weighted blankets fit into your budget, it’s worth giving them a shot. However, remember that the heavy blankets are just aids to deal with sleeplessness or anxiety. They are not an alternative to medicines. If your problem is a chronic one, it requires multiple approaches, which includes therapy, medication, and dietary changes. Please consult a doctor and seek appropriate treatment.
References and Citations:
- Ghaly M, Teplitz D. The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650465. Published October 2004.
- Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Anxiety and stress weighing heavily at night? A new blanket might help. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/anxiety-and-stress-weighing-heavily-at-night-a-new-blanket-might-help.