Table of Contents
Sleeping with a Weighted Blanket
Have you ever heard of weighted blankets?
They are exactly what they sound like – blankets that weigh more than your average comforter.
Weighted blankets have been around for years, but they have gained popularity in recent years as people look for ways to reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
But how do weighted blankets work? And are they right for you?
In this blog post, we’ll answer those questions and give you some tips on how to use a weighted blanket correctly.
What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket is a therapeutic blanket that weighs between 5 and 30 pounds. It contains weighted material, such as glass or plastic pellets or beads, sewn into the fabric, which provides a deep pressure stimulation or pressure therapy. It can be equal to between 5-12% of a person’s body weight.
The pressure from the extra weight creates a feeling of being hugged or held, which can be very calming and relaxing, leading to a more sound sleep with fewer restless awakenings. Research indicates that a weighted blanket that is more than 10% of a person’s body weight is therapeutic and has calming effects.
Why do you need to sleep with a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets can help people with anxiety-related sleep struggles in a number of ways. The pressure of the weight provides a therapeutic value that can help to calm the nerves, trigger natural chemicals that can improve mood and immune system response, and provide sensory therapy for those with autism spectrum disorder or ADHD.
Weighted blankets can help to reduce heart rate and breathing, which can make it easier for someone to relax before bedtime. Additionally, the blankets can provide a sense of security and safety which can make it easier for someone to fall asleep and stay asleep.
There is also evidence that weighted blankets can be helpful for people with sleep apnea. All of these benefits make weighted blankets an ideal option for people struggling with sleep issues.
To be completely honest, there are some benefits of sleeping without blankets as well!
How to sleep with a weighted blanket correctly?
Sleeping with a weighted blanket correctly is an important step to achieving a good night’s sleep. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
- Figure Out If a Weighted Blanket Is Right for You: A weighted blanket provides deep pressure stimulation, creating a calming effect that can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. However, it’s important to make sure the weight of the blanket is appropriate for your body size and that you are comfortable using it.
- Using a Weighted Blanket: We recommend using the weighted blanket for shorter periods of time while your body adjusts. For night-time sleep, use the blanket over half of your body for about a week. Once the week is up, slowly move the blanket up each day until it covers you completely. It can take up to 14 days for your body to adjust to the new added weight.
- Getting Great Sleep: Make sure to give your body time to adjust to the weight and the benefits. To help form new, healthy habits, try to establish a regular nightly sleep routine and stick to it.
- Take care: make sure to take care of yourself during the day by exercising and eating healthy meals.
Follow these steps and you will be on your way to a better night’s sleep. Read our detailed guide on how to use a weighted blanket correctly. Good luck!
What’s it like to sleep under a weighted blanket?
The experience of sleeping under a weighted blanket is like being enveloped in a gentle hug. It provides a soothing sensation of being held as the evenly distributed weight creates a sense of relaxation and calm.
It is a comforting and calming feeling that allows the body to rest more easily, with fewer restless awakenings throughout the night. As the blanket lightly hugs the body, it helps keep the person still in bed and promotes a better quality of sleep.
There is also an EMDR technique called Butterfly hugging. It is like simply hugging yourself – all night long. Self-hugging an effective and powerful way to promote positive self-esteem and wellbeing.
Psychological Security of Weighted blankets
Weighted blankets also offer a form of psychological security. Research has shown that deep pressure stimulation can help reduce autonomic arousal, which is responsible for physical symptoms of anxiety such as increased heart rate.
Some people find comfort in sleeping with their head under the covers because it provides psychological relaxation by creating a sense of safety and calm which may date back to childhood when people would hide from perceived threats.
Swaddling an adult is a similar practice to swaddling an infant and can trigger a psychological reaction that is reminiscent of being in the womb.
How do weighted blankets work to promote sleep?
Weighted blankets are increasingly popular as a way to promote sleep, but what exactly is their effect? How do weighted blankets work to promote sleep?
Weighted blankets are designed to provide even, deep pressure across large swaths of the body. This gentle pressure activates the autonomic nervous system and reduces the fight-or-flight response, promoting a rest-and-digest response. This activation and reduced sympathetic arousal is associated with improved sleep.
In addition, the pressure applied by weighted blankets has been found to increase the production of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone, in the brain. Melatonin reduces alertness and helps the body prepare for sleep. Normally, light that enters the eyes signals the brain’s master circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which then blocks the release of melatonin from the pineal gland. But when the sun sets, the suprachiasmatic nucleus releases its hold on the pineal gland and melatonin is produced, setting the body up for sleep.
Studies have shown that using a weighted blanket increases melatonin by an average of 32 percent compared to using a light blanket. This increase in production helps the body to relax, inducing a drowsy sensation and preparing the body for sleep.
Weighted blankets have been used for many years in occupational therapy, as a humane alternative to restraint and seclusion for people with mental health issues. They have also been used as swaddles for babies and anxiety vests for dogs, providing a calming and comforting effect.
Dogs can even be trained to perform deep pressure therapy usign their own weight to provide the required pressure.
In conclusion, weighted blankets work to promote sleep by providing even and deep pressure over large swaths of the body that activates the autonomic nervous system, reduces the fight-or-flight response, and increases the production of melatonin. This combination of effects helps to prepare the body for sleep, providing a more restful and peaceful night.
Your Body Needs Time to Adapt
How long should you give your body time to adapt to sleeping with a weighted blanket? It can sometimes take up to 14 days for your body to fully adjust to the new added weight of a weighted blanket.
It takes roughly 2-3 weeks for us to form new habits, so it is important to allow your body to adjust to the weight and to the benefits. We highly recommend using the weighted blanket for shorter periods of time while your body adjusts and then using the blanket over half of your body for about a week.
Once the week is up, you can slowly move the blanket up each day until it covers you completely.
What does current research tell us?
Current research has indicated that sleeping with a weighted blanket may be beneficial in promoting better quality sleep. A study from the Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden found that those who slept with a weighted blanket reported feeling calmer and more secure than those who did not use a weighted blanket.
Additionally, the study also noted that the weighted blankets helped to reduce body movements associated with discomfort during sleep. The authors concluded that a weighted blanket may be an effective intervention for individuals struggling with disrupted sleep.
Bolic Baric V, Skuthälla S, Pettersson M, Gustafsson PA, Kjellberg A. The effectiveness of weighted blankets on sleep and everyday activities – A retrospective follow-up study of children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or autism spectrum disorder. Scand J Occup Ther. 2021 Jun 29:1-11. doi: 10.1080/11038128.2021.1939414. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34184958.
Benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket
The benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket can range from improved sleep quality and duration to lower stress and anxiety. In particular, research has shown that weighted blankets can help those with chronic insomnia, autism, fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, and sensory processing disorder.
Weighted blankets provide a sense of extra warmth and comfort, triggering the release of serotonin and oxytocin which can help the body relax and sleep peacefully. People who use weighted blankets have reported feeling calmer before going to sleep, sleeping longer and better, and waking up feeling refreshed. Furthermore, sleeping under weight may even help to boost one’s mood and concentration.
1. Improved Sleep Quality
Sleeping with a weighted blanket can improve sleep quality by providing a sense of warmth and comfort, calming the central nervous system and activating the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress hormones. This helps to relax the body and prepare it for sleep.
Studies have shown that using a weighted blanket resulted in increased sleep duration, fewer awakenings during the night, reduced restlessness before going to sleep, and improved sleep quality.
Additionally, weighted blankets have been found to reduce feelings of stress, promote relaxation, and improve overall sleep quality.
2. Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Sleeping with a weighted blanket has been scientifically shown to help reduce anxiety and stress by activating the effects of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). DTP triggers the release of serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin—hormones responsible for elevating mood, boosting happiness, and reducing tension and restlessness. It also helps to ground the body and reduce the nighttime levels of cortisol—a stress hormone that has a negative effect on blood sugar, digestion, and immunity.
Additionally, the comforting sensation of the weighted blanket can help reduce symptoms of anxiety such as a rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing. All of this combined helps to create a sense of calm and relaxation, enabling a better quality of sleep.
3. Improved Focus and Concentration
Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help improve focus and concentration by calming the central nervous system and activating the sense of touch. When used in combination with exercise, a good diet, and sufficient sleep, weighted blankets can help regulate mood, sleep, and many body systems, which reduces stress and fatigue. The soothing pressure of the blanket helps to block out external stimuli, allowing the user to focus on the task at hand.
4. Improved Mood and Emotional Well-Being
Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help improve mood and emotional well-being by increasing levels of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones associated with emotional health. Deep pressure stimulation provided by weighted blankets is believed to help release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and emotional states. Serotonin is known to be a mood enhancer, resulting in a happier, more relaxed feeling.
Weighted blankets also help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has a negative effect on our overall health. In addition, the grounding effect of weighted blankets during sleep may help to reduce nighttime levels of cortisol, further promoting emotional balance and wellbeing.
5. Reduced Pain and Muscle Soreness
Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help reduce pain and muscle soreness by providing a gentle, firm pressure that stimulates the body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for moderating our moods and alleviating pain. This pressure also encourages the body to relax and calm down, reducing anxiety levels, which can help reduce pain further.
The deep pressure provided by the blanket helps to reduce inflammation and swelling, making it a great tool for managing chronic pain, headaches, and even the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
The constant pressure on the body also helps to reduce cortisol levels, which can reduce the pain caused by chronic stress.
6. Improved Restlessness and Movement Disorders
Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help to ease symptoms of restless legs and movement disorders, providing a sense of calm that can improve sleep.
Even if you’re pregnant it’s safe to use a weighted blanket during pregnancy,which can help with restless leg syndrome and provides better sleep.
The pressure from the weighted blanket also provides relief from tingling and movements, which can interfere with sleep. By reducing these symptoms, the weighted blanket can help to improve quality of sleep and reduce fatigue.
7. Improved Sleep Hygiene and Habits
Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help improve sleep hygiene and habits by providing a source of soothing pressure that can calm the body and central nervous system. This pressure can help reduce stress hormones that can activate the fight or flight response, making it easier to relax before bed.
Additionally, the added pressure may reduce heart rate and breathing, helping to promote a deeper sleep. Mindfulness-based practices and mind-body movement practices such as Yoga Nidra may also be beneficial, as well as dietary supplements like valerian, melatonin, chamomile, and cannabis.
Are there any risks associated with sleeping with a weighted blanket?
Yes, there are some weighted blanket disadvantages which needs to addressed.
People with chronic respiratory and circulatory issues, as well as very young children, frail adults, and dementia patients should check in with a healthcare provider before using a weighted blanket.
Those with sleep apnea should avoid using weighted blankets as it may worsen their respiratory problems.
Sleep problems negatively impact dementia and Alzheimer’s however, Poor sleep quality have been associated with higher levels of beta-amyloid protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, for those without any of these health issues, a weighted blanket may prove helpful for relaxation and improved sleep. Research has shown that weighted blankets can offer relief from mental health disorders like PTSD and stress, making it an effective tool in helping to optimize the quality and quantity of one’s sleep.
What is the ideal weight for a weighted blanket?
The ideal weight for a weighted blanket is typically 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. For an adult, the recommended weight range is between 12 and 30 pounds. For a child between 20 and 70 pounds, a small weighted blanket should be between 3 and 8 pounds, while for a child between 30 and 130 pounds, a medium weighted blanket should weigh between 5 and 15 pounds. Older adults may prefer to use a small or medium weighted blanket, ranging from 5 to 8 pounds.
Use the Corala Weighted Blanket Calculator which is an online interactive tool developed to help you find the ideal weight of a weighted blanket.
How can I tell if a weighted blanket is right for me?
If you are wondering if a weighted blanket is right for you, the first step is to determine your body weight. Most manufacturers recommend a blanket that is about 10 percent of your total body weight for optimal comfort.
Once you have determined your ideal weight, you can then decide on the material and size of the blanket. Weighted blankets for year-round use are typically made of cotton to allow for better temperature control.
Additionally, some people prefer weighted blankets with glass beads because they are quieter and help keep the user cool, while others prefer plastic beads because they retain heat and are generally less expensive. There are some other products which are great weighted blanket alternatives.
It is also important to consider if a weighted blanket is something that can help you with your individual sleep issues. For example, deep pressure stimulation can create a calming effect that can lower anxiety and help you toss and turn less so you get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Therefore, if you are looking for a way to improve your sleep, it may be worth trying out a weighted blanket.
There are also many deep pressure calming activities that adults can do by providing input to the proprioceptive and sensory systems.
Finally, make sure you choose the right size and weight for your body. If the blanket is too heavy it may be uncomfortable, and if it’s too light it may not provide the pressure needed for it to be effective. Once you have chosen the right blanket, it’s time to get some restful sleep.
What kind of materials are used to make weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets are made of various materials, including cotton, polyester, fleece and other fabrics. They can be filled with materials such as plastic pellets, tiny glass beads, or chains, in lieu of feathers or fiberfill, to add weight. Generally, they weigh between 10 to 30 pounds in total and should be equal to 5 to 12% of the user’s body weight.
How do hormones like melatonin and oxytocin affect sleep?
Hormones like melatonin and oxytocin play a vital role in regulating sleep. Melatonin is naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain, and its production increases when it gets dark outside, signaling the body to rest. Supplementing with melatonin may help people with conditions such as migraines, traumatic brain injury, and tinnitus. While it is unlikely that someone will overdose on melatonin, taking too much can cause side effects such as headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and irritability.
Oxytocin is another hormone involved in regulating sleep; a recent study found that using a weighted blanket (~12% of body weight) at bedtime resulted in higher salivary concentrations of oxytocin and melatonin compared to a light blanket (~2.4% of body weight). This increase in melatonin may be therapeutically relevant for conditions such as insomnia and anxiety.
Thus, hormones like melatonin and oxytocin can have a positive effect on sleep, helping us fall asleep fast and stay asleep longer.
What are some relaxation techniques that can help promote better sleep?
Relaxation techniques can help promote better sleep and may include mindfulness-based practices, yoga, and other mind-body movement practices. Breathing exercises, such as 4-7-8 breathing not always work, but can be beneficial in helping to reduce stress and induce relaxation if it fits for you.
Other relaxation techniques that can be beneficial for better sleep include visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and autogenic training.
Calming activities such as coloring, reading, listening to calming music, and journaling can also help to relax the body and mind, potentially leading to better ZZZ.
What is the best way to care for a weighted blanket?
The best way to care for a weighted blanket is to make sure that it is regularly washed. It is recommended washing the weighted blanket insert every three or four months and washing the weighted blanket cover at least every other week. If you have oily skin or sweat excessively at night, you should wash it every week.
Additionally, you can take a few simple steps to stretch the time between washes, such as showering at night to wash off the dirt and grime from your body and using a top sheet to avoid direct contact with the weighted blanket. It is also recommended to have your pets sleep elsewhere.
What Is The Right Amount Of Sleep?
The right amount of sleep is absolutely essential for a person’s physical and mental health. Experts recommend that adults get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night in order to feel refreshed and energized the next day. However, having the right number of hours of sleep is only part of the equation; quality sleep is just as important. To get a good night’s sleep, one must ensure that their sleeping environment is silent and relaxed. Of course if you sleep in an airport during your travel do not expect the right amount!
Weighted products, such as weighted blankets and weighted eye masks, can be a great way to calm the central nervous system and help one prepare for high-quality sleep. With adequate and restful sleep, one can lead a healthier and more productive life.
Can Weighted Blankets Be Too Heavy?
Weighted blankets are often touted as offering a comforting, soothing hug-like feeling that can help people drift off to sleep more quickly and deeply. They come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, colors, materials, and weights, ranging from 4 or 5 pounds to 25 or 30 pounds. While heavier versions can definitely provide the desired effect, they can also be too heavy and uncomfortable for some people.
For instance, if you weigh less than 130 pounds, then a blanket weighing 20 pounds may be too heavy and uncomfortable to use. Similarly, if you’re sensitive to heat, then a blanket weighing 25 or 30 pounds may be too much and make it difficult to sleep in hot weather.
That said, lighter versions, such as those weighing 10 to 15 pounds, may be more ideal for people who are new to weighted blankets, as well as those who are heat-sensitive.
Ultimately, when it comes to weighted blankets, the rule of thumb is to go for a lighter version if you are new to them, heat-sensitive, or weigh less than 130 pounds.
How much can a blanket raise body temperature?
An average blanket can increase the body temperature by up 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the person’s body weight, metabolism, and the thickness of the blanket.