Weighted Blankets for Sleep Apnea - Can They Help?


Sleep disorders have become a major problem in the United States. According to the American Sleep Association, as many as 50 to 70 million adults suffer from one that causes them to be unable to get a proper night's sleep [1]. Of these people, 25 million have what is diagnosed as obstructive sleep apnea [1]. As a result of this, it has been classified by the Centers For Disease Control as a public health epidemic [2]. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep can cause all kinds of issues. Proper rest and sleep are necessary for maintaining all kinds of bodily processes that are essential to protecting the health of your heart, body, and brain.

woman with sleeping issue

A lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to a heightened risk factor of a variety of diseases including anxiety symptoms, cardiovascular disease, increased alcohol use, and obesity in both adults and children [3]. One of the biggest sleeping disorders sweeping the nation and worldwide is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Below, we will be going over what sleep apnea is, some of its symptoms, and how a weighted blanket might be your best solution.

What Is Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

As mentioned, OSA is a sleeping disorder that affects nearly 25 million adults in the country. It is a sleeping disorder that results in shallow breathing. It can cause air blockages which can limit the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain. This can cause numerous issues. However, it can directly and negatively impact the quality of sleep. After all, it can result in constant pauses during sleep. When left untreated, sleep apnea can be very dangerous and it can increase risk factors of various serious diseases including heart disease and risk of a heart attack.

While it is certainly more prevalent among those who are overweight or classified as obese, it can affect nearly anyone. After all, the prevalence of OSA in obese patients is almost double that of adults that are classified as 'normal weight' [4]. As you can probably tell, OSA has become so widespread because, in 2016, 71.6 percent of all adults aged 20 and over were overweight with 39.8 percent of those being classified as obese [5].

Symptoms Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

1. Excessive Sleepiness and Tiredness in the Day Time

2. Very Loud and Obtrusive Snoring

3. Sounds of Choking During Sleep

4. Headaches Upon Waking Up

5. High Blood Pressure

6. Sweating At Night

7. Decreased Libido

8. Dry Mouth or Sore Throat

 

Some Of The Many Causes and Risk Factors Of Sleep Apnea:

1. Genetics

One of the primary causes of sleep apnea would have to be genetics. Having a smaller upper airway or even having a large tongue or tonsils can cause you to develop sleep apnea [6]. Another thing that can cause it from genetics would be having a large overbite which can put you at an increased risk for reducing your airway.

2. Overweight

A lot of people that develop sleep apnea have it due their weight. If you are overweight, especially in the chin area, you are going to end up having a heightened risk factor for developing sleep apnea. After all, your airway is much more likely to get blocked if you have a lot of fat in that area. After all, when you lay down, your neck fat might begin to block your airways which can cause you to develop sleep apnea. It will cause your airways to be limited which can reduce the level of oxygen that you are able to intake throughout the night. That is why a lot of people who are overweight with sleep apnea notice dramatic improvements by either losing weight naturally or through surgery.

overweight man with tape measurer

3. Smoking and/or Alcohol Use

Believe it or not, but both of these things is likely to result in having an increased risk factor of getting this sleeping disorder. Alcohol is a well-known depressant. It can end up causing your upper airways to relax which can cause your airway to get blocked. This can make you effectively unable to take in the requisite air throughout the night which can cause frequent hiccups in your sleep causing you to wake up at varying intervals throughout the night. Smoking is going to increase your risk factor of developing it because it can cause your upper airway to swell. As a result, it can worsen the condition you already have or it can cause it to start in the first place.

How Can A Weighted Blanket Help Sleep Apnea?

Believe it or not, but a weighted blanket might actually help any issues that you might be having with an inability to sleep because of sleep apnea. While it might not sound effective. After all, you will be applying a blanket weighing around 10% of your body weight. How would that help you breathe better throughout the night? Below, we will be going over some of the ways it might help.

1. Increasing Oxytocin Production

Perhaps the greatest benefit of sleeping with a weighted blanket can offer those who suffer from OSA is the ability to produce much more oxytocin in their body [7]. It is able to do this by mimicking the same kind of sensation that you would get from being hugged. Your body responds well to being held. A weighted blanket is able to offer this same experience without the negatives that come with hugging someone throughout the night. Studies have shown that an increase in oxytocin was able to significantly decrease the percent of apnea experienced by subjects [8].

2. Can Reduce Cortisol Levels

While there isn't a direct link to OSA and heightened cortisol levels, having high cortisol (stress) levels in your body is only going to put your body in a tense state. This can cause your muscles to restrict which can cause you to get poor quality sleep and it can cause you to gain weight. The gaining weight portion can directly lead to an increased risk factor associated with sleep apnea.

3. Helps You Breathe

A weighted blanket can effectively reduce your heart rate and give your body a chance to be much more relaxed [9]. As a result, it can indirectly help you breathe better. After all, you will be in a better and more restful state.

4. Keeps You Asleep

A weighted blanket is going to keep you from having your sleep disturbed throughout the night by constant restlessness. A lot of people that suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from other sleeping disorders like restless leg syndrome and weighted blankets can have a direct positive impact on limiting this [10].

woman sleeping

As you can see, there are so many different ways weighted blankets can play a role in helping one with sleep apnea achieve better quality sleep. Sleeping disorders are a big problem and weighted blankets have proven to be a very effective way to combat the harmful impact these sleeping disorders can have on your body. If you want the highest quality weighted blanket from a brand that is confident enough to offer a 100 night trial with no hassle returns, you will want to check out one of the amazing offerings from Hush Blankets. With the Classic Hush blanket and the Hugh Iced Cooling blanket to keep you nice and cool throughout even the hottest days of the year, you can find the perfect one to help optimize your sleep. Get one today!

 

 

References:

[1] https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/sleep-statistics/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3021364/

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

[6] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-apnea

[7] https://www.sleep.org/articles/will-a-weighted-blanket-help-you-sleep-better/

[8] https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajplung.00206.2017?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&

[9] https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/february/weighted-blankets

[10] https://openres.ersjournals.com/content/3/suppl_1/P20

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