Weighted blankets are most commonly used for those with autism or sensory processing disorder, but more and more often today they are being used for those with sleeping disorders, like insomnia, restless leg syndrome or people who would simply like to improve their sleep overall.
The calming effect of a weighted blanket can create a more comfortable environment for falling asleep.
This is done by imitating the feeling of being swaddled tightly in bed. The swaddling effect is a close physical connection, providing a sense of warmth and safety, making it easier for the body to relax.
A Study from Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found that a weighted blanket helped those with insomnia sleep better, due to them feeling more relaxed and settled at bedtime.
Psychology Today recently published an article in response to a radio interview being conducted in the USA regarding the benefits of weighted blankets and how it could help fight insomnia. The Psychologist talking on the subject, Dr.John Cline, Ph.D, is a licensed psychologist, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. He is on the professional staffs of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Connecticut; Behavioral Health Consultants, LLC; and Metta Consulting, LLC.
He referred to the study conducted in 2015 in Sweden where they used blankets that were commercially available and had previously been used with elderly individuals living in nursing homes and with patients who had autism spectrum disorders. The weighted blankets could be used with another quilt either over or under them.
Like our PrettySpecial 100% full cotton blankets, the study blankets were not thick and did not provide much additional warmth. The blankets were tested in three different weights: 6 kg, 8 kg, or 10 kg. Participants were allowed to choose their preferred weight and the most commonly chosen was the 8 kg version.
Participants had to have an existing complaint of chronic insomnia. If they were taking sleep medication immediately prior to the study they could keep taking it throughout. People with recent onset insomnia, sleep apnea, untreated metabolic disorders, and high blood pressure were excluded.
There were 31 participants, including 20 women and 11 men. The study was conducted with participants sleeping in their usual setting. There was a week-long pre-test baseline period, a two-week period of nightly use of the weighted blanket, and then a one-week post-test period in their normal setting but without use of the weighted blanket.
The results were quite interesting in that, on average, length of sleep was significantly increased by the use of the weighted blanket. Additionally, movement during the night was reduced with the blanket – see our recent article on RLS.
For participants already using sleeping medication, the time to fall asleep and time spent in bed were reduced when using the blanket. Sleep time was reduced and activity level was increased during the post-test period when the blankets were no longer used.
For the 20 participants who liked using the blanket:
1. Wakefulness during the night was reduced and total sleep time was increased.
2. Quality of sleep was judged to be better when using the weighted blanket.
3. In general, the blankets had a positive effect on sleep for participants with chronic insomnia, especially when they enjoyed using the blanket and if they were already taking sleeping medication.
In conclusion it was found that weighted blankets were effective in promoting quality and quantity of sleep for participants with mild to moderate insomnia who had some excessive daytime sleepiness. Thus, these blankets could be beneficial in patients with general insomnia and mild sleep problems. Physiological arousal may be reduced by the effectiveness of deep touch pressure and consistent sensory input, as provided by the weighted blanket, which facilitates relaxation into sleep.
This was seen in a reduction in nocturnal movement of participants while using the blankets. It is important to note that not everyone liked using the blankets. The mid-weight blanket was most often chosen by participants, and the positive effects only occurred while the blankets were used and not after usage had stopped. Weighted blankets may indeed be an effective, complementary, non-pharmacological intervention for patients with chronic insomnia.
If you think a PrettySpecial weighted blanket is the right choice for you and would like to try one, please feel free to contact us here.
Or simply drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We deliver directly to your door, anywhere in South Africa.