Weighted blankets are a bit of a fad at the moment, with a number of companies now selling these heavy blankets that were once commonly used by individuals suffering from certain health and mental conditions. Many people report positive experiences with these blankets, including better sleep quality, lower anxiety, and relief from insomnia. A new study evaluates that latter claim, finding that weight blankets do, indeed, help those insomnia sufferers.
Insomnia is, of course, a condition in which someone struggles to get to sleep. If left untreated, the condition can become chronic and severely impact one’s life and health, leading to a variety of other issues. Sleep pills are a solution for many, but they come with a number of unwanted side effects. Weighted blankets, it turns out, may be a safer alternative that offers similar relief.
According to a randomized, controlled Swedish study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia sufferers reported a variety of benefits after using a weighted blanket to sleep for four weeks, including a reduction in anxiety and depression, more time spent asleep, less severe insomnia, and improvements in fatigue.
When compared to a control group, participants given a weighted blanket were 26 times more likely to see at least a 50-percent reduction in the severity of their insomnia. In addition, the study reports that participants given weighted blankets had 20 times greater odds of experiencing insomnia remission compared to the control group. The researchers report ‘positive results’ after 12 months of followup.
Karolinska Institutet department of clinical neuroscience consultant psychiatrist Dr. Mats Alder explained:
A suggested explanation for the calming and sleep-promoting effect is the pressure that the chain blanket applies on different points on the body, stimulating the sensation of touch and the sense of muscles and joints, similar to acupressure and massage. There is evidence suggesting that deep pressure stimulation increases parasympathetic arousal of the autonomic nervous system and at the same time reduces sympathetic arousal, which is considered to be the cause of the calming effect.