The Weighted Blankets: A Rediscovered Natural Solution for Insomnia
Insomnia affects nearly one in three adults at some point in their lives. This sleep disorder is characterized by difficulties falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night, or non-restorative sleep. The consequences on health and quality of life are significant: fatigue, mood disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and increased cardiovascular risks. Thankfully, there is a natural solution for achieving peaceful and restorative nights: weighted blankets. Once used primarily in psychiatric hospitals, the calming properties of weighted blankets are now being rediscovered to effectively alleviate insomnia. In this article, we will explore the origins, benefits, and mode of action of weighted blankets in order to help overcome sleep disorders in a lasting manner.
What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket is a heavier than normal blanket that contains small beads, fine sand, or microbeads to add weight. This added weight, evenly distributed throughout the fabric, can represent between 5 to 12% of a person's body weight. For example, a 6 kg blanket would be suitable for a person weighing 60 kg. The weight applies gentle pressure to the entire body, providing a feeling of being hugged. Weighted blankets are available in various weights, sizes, thicknesses, and patterns to accommodate individual needs.
History and Origins of Weighted Blankets
The use of weighted blankets in psychiatry dates back to the 17th century when Swiss psychiatrist Johannes Hofer observed that the pressure exerted by these blankets helped calm patients with acute anxiety. This property was rediscovered in the 1980s by Dr. Temple Grandin, who invented a machine that applied deep pressure to alleviate her intense anxiety during autistic episodes.
The benefits of weighted blankets have since been clinically demonstrated for various conditions such as insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and autism spectrum disorders. In the past decade, there has been a renewed interest in weighted blankets for improving sleep disorders due to their relaxing and comforting properties.
How do weighted blankets work?
By gently and evenly applying pressure to the entire body, a weighted blanket provides deep stimulation of the tactile and muscular receptors. This enveloping effect is said to activate the release of serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote well-being and sleep.
The weight of the blanket may also have an anxiolytic effect by reducing the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deep pressure relaxes the nerves, muscles, and slows down heart and respiratory rates... All of these combined benefits promote falling asleep and improving sleep quality.
What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets have been scientifically proven to provide numerous benefits:
Improved sleep quality: increased total sleep time, less time to fall asleep, fewer nighttime awakenings
Reduced anxiety: relaxing and calming effect, decreased stress and anxiety attacks
Pain relief: analgesic effect due to pressure on muscles and joints
Mood stabilization: increased serotonin secretion, positive effects on depression
Improved attention: increased concentration due to better sleep
Furthermore, weighted blankets offer a natural solution without any side effects. They can be used by both adults and children who suffer from sleep disorders.
How to Choose a Weighted Blanket?
When choosing the right weighted blanket for your needs, there are several factors to consider:
- Weight: Optimal weight is typically around 10% of your body weight.
- Size: Choose a blanket that covers your entire body, including your feet.
- Filling: Consider using glass beads or fine sand for better comfort.
- Fabric: Select a fabric such as cotton or satin based on your preferences.
- Maintenance: Make sure to regularly wash the cover according to the recommendations.
It may take some trial and error over a few nights to find the optimal effect. Don't hesitate to adjust the weight if necessary. Patience is key when finding the right blanket for you!
Who are weighted blankets not recommended for?
Although weighted blankets are generally well tolerated, there are a few contraindications for certain conditions:
Severe respiratory insufficiency, sleep apnea: risk of aggravation
Severe cardiovascular diseases
Uncontrolled high blood pressure
Circulatory disorders in the lower limbs
Diabetes with peripheral neuropathy
Allergy to components of the blanket
In general, it is recommended to consult your doctor before purchasing a weighted blanket. They will be able to advise you on the choice of weight and check for any contraindications.
Weighted blankets are a natural and effective solution for insomnia due to their relaxing and secure effect. The enveloping pressure they provide helps reduce anxiety, relieve pain, and enhance sleep quality. By selecting a blanket that suits your body type, you can quickly regain peaceful and restorative nights of sleep!