Unless you have been living under a rock, you have likely heard about weighted blankets. After all, they have been skyrocketing in popularity in recent years due to the many perceived sleep benefits they offer. As with anything, you should 'weigh' the research to determine whether or not the marketing matches with reality. According to an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, weighted blankets have been used for a long time to treat both kids with autism, and for those that experience behavioral disturbances .
As far as the studies for the actual use-case for sleep benefits, one study had 63% of participants report they experienced lower anxiety after lying underneath a 30-pound blanket for just 5 minutes . Considering high-levels of anxiety is a precursor to sleep deprivation and other sleeping problems, anything that could contribute to decreased anxiety will inherently help one fall sleep .
How Weighted Blankets Can Help You Sleep:
1. Decrease Anxiety
As mentioned above, there is plenty of research that showcases how powerful the use of a weighted blanket can be when you are looking to decrease anxiety levels. Unfortunately, anxiety can disturb your sleep in a variety of ways. Not only can it cause you to be entirely unable to fall asleep at all (insomnia), but it can curb your ability to fall into a deep sleep which can reduce the quality of your sleep. It is said that deep pressure stimulation is able to have a calming effect on the body which can help reduce any anxious thoughts you might be experiencing by forcing you to focus on the physical sensation that you are feeling instead .
2. Boost Levels of Sleep Chemicals In The Brain
It is said that spooning and cuddling with your partner for as little as 10 minutes prior to falling sleep can effectively trigger your body to release oxytocin which is typically referred to as the 'love hormone.' This is a chemical that your body releases which can effectively promote sleep . It is able to do this by making it easier to relax and by naturally decreasing stress levels.
3. It Can Curb Restlessness
If you are someone who's sleep is negatively impacted by restless leg syndrome, you aren't alone. Restless Les Syndrome (RLS) is a much more common issue than you might assume with it affecting up to 10% of people in the U.S . It is a nervous system disorder that is typically classified as a sleeping disorder because it usually gets worse when you are in a resting state. Unfortunately, it can severely impact one's ability to power through the natural sleep cycle which can cause a lack of deep sleep. By using weighted blankets to promote counter-stimulation, you should be able to reduce the feeling of having restless legs. Likewise, there is further research that indicates RLS may indeed be caused by heightened anxiety levels . Therefore, weighted blankets can help by reducing anxiety.
4. Fall Asleep Faster
Weighted blankets can bring on enhanced comfort. With a high-quality weighted blanket, you will find yourself being very comfortable. Also, because weighted blankets are capable of creating deep pressure stimulation, they are able to produce a calming effect on the body which can naturally help you relax. By being much more relaxed and out of a state of nervousness, you will be able to fall asleep a lot quicker.
As you can see, weighted blankets have a lot of substantiated benefits. However, the key to being able to experience these benefits comes from getting the right weighted blanket for your body type and sleeping style. A lot of people know how important it is to purchase the right size and weight due to the manufacturer's designations on the packaging or product details. However, not many are aware that your sleeping position should also be considered.
Are They Good For Side Sleepers?
Weighted blankets can be beneficial no matter what your sleeping style is. However, if you are a side sleeper you should consider getting a less heavy blanket than the recommended specifications from the manufacturer because the weight will not be evenly distributed throughout your entire body. Therefore, it could end up placing too much stress on your hips and joints. As long as you opt for a blanket that is 5 to 10 pounds lighter, you should be able to experience the many benefits a weighted blanket can offer without discomfort.
Just about anyone could experience the many benefits of weighted blankets. The normal recommendation for a weighted blanket is typically at around 10% of your body weight. While this is certainly a good rule of thumb for those that are back sleepers, side sleepers should subtract anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds based on comfort. Likewise, you want to consider the material makeup of the weighted blanket that you are considering. Some weighted blankets will sleep much hotter which can negatively impact your ability to not only fall asleep but to remain asleep throughout the night. After all, the ideal ambient temperature to achieve optimal sleep is anywhere from 60 to 67 degrees . Because of this, you want to try to find one that offers a much more breathable material makeup. Avoiding blankets that use polyester fiberfill is typically the way to go if you are a hot sleeper.