Should I Buy A Weighted Blanket?
There is this new must-have invention that has been popping up everywhere lately. I see them all over the place these days, from the shelves at Walmart to the pop-ups on my favorite shopping sites. It’s those weighted blankets. They supposedly are able to calm you down and help your anxiety so you can sleep better. Well, I’d say they have officially made it to the big time. With advertisements everywhere, the marketing campaigns have worked. My curiosity is begging me to give it a try. Should I buy a weighted blanket? I mean, what could it hurt?
Wait, But What Is A Weighted Blanket Anyway?
To start with, weighted blankets are regular blankets with one exception, they are made with weighted inserts evenly distributed throughout the entire blanket. This extra weight provides a gentle feeling of pressure that feels like you are being held. They come in a range of weights from 5 pounds to over 30 pounds. That is certainly heavier than the comforter on my bed right now.
So, a weighted blanket can give us a nice warm feeling of being held, there’s nothing wrong with that. But can it really help a person who has anxiety or insomnia? From just a little searching online, I read about how weighted blankets provide something called Deep Pressure Stimulation. This is a form of therapy that has been used since the mid 1900’s. The therapy aims to relax an individual by, you guessed it, applying pressure on the body. Methods like hugging, cuddling, squeezing and compressing are used. Researchers have shown that Deep Pressure Stimulation increases the release of serotonin and melatonin. These are the hormones in our body that control mood and sleep. This therapy also reduces the release of cortisol, which is our stress hormone. Hugging has been shown to release another hormone in our bodies called oxytocin. This hormone helps control our blood pressure, heart rate and helps us relax. Well, that sounds good too, but…
What Does the Research Say?
To put it in plain English, yes, weighted blankets can help you reduce stress and improve your quality of sleep. Research has backed this up. An article posted in the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Journal entitled “Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket” showed that in a study of 32 adults who used a weighted blanket, 63 percent of the adults reported lower anxiety and 78 percent reported a calming effect. Even though this is a relatively small sample, it does show definite results. Other studies have shown similar results. Another study posted in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders concluded that weighted blankets “had a positive impact on sleep, both objectively and subjectively, where a number of physiological and behavioral measures were improved during weighted blanket use”. It went on to say the participants felt the weighted blanket “provided them with a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep”.
But Should I Buy A Weighted Blanket?
According to the research, weighted blankets can be beneficial for people with a wide range of disorders, including insomnia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, other sleep disorders, sensory disorders and even chronic pain. But I don’t have any of these disorders. I do occasionally suffer from mild anxiety, usually related to my work. This anxiety can cause me to lie awake in bed for long periods of time, but it happens pretty rarely. But still, like I said earlier, my curiosity was begging me to try a weighted blanket out for myself. I clicked over to Amazon and did a little searching and purchased one that was ranked pretty high with several good reviews.
Weighted blankets aren’t one size fits all though, they come in a range of weights and sizes. So finding a blanket with good reviews that you like is just the first step. The main recommendation for the weight of a blanket is to go with 10 percent of your body weight. Not everyone will find a nice blanket at exactly 10 percent of their weight so go up a few pounds to the next weight. For instance, if you weigh around 125 pounds like me, go for a 14- or 15-pound blanket. My husband weighs about 190 and he uses a 20-pound blanket. You can also find full size blankets that couples can share. If buying one of these, I would really recommend checking out the return policy if the weight isn’t comfortable for you or your partner. Weighted blankets come in weights as low as 5 pounds, but be very careful with young children and weighted blankets. Be sure the child can remove the blanket completely by themselves before letting them use one. An infant or young child could easily suffocate under a blanket if they cannot remove it on their own. It is also important not to use too heavy of a blanket for an adult. Sure, I could move a 30- or 35-pound blanket off of me, but sleeping under one for a whole night could have adverse effects on things like breathing and circulation.
Is Buying A Weighted Blanket Worth It?
So, what do I think about my weighted blanket? At first it seemed much heavier than I expected. I mean, I could really use this thing to work out with. But when I draped it over me, I was surprised to find it didn’t seem that heavy, as the weight distributed over my entire body. I used it that first night and every night since. I’ve even become used to using it when I sit on the couch and watch TV. I am very satisfied with my purchase to say the least. I’m definitely attached to it now. I am seriously considering buying another one just to leave on my couch.
It’s not like my new blanket has changed my life to any great extent. But it’s something that I’ve grown attached to and wouldn’t want to be without at this point. Not only does it give me warmth like a regular blanket, but it relaxes me and keeps me calm. And those rare nights when I used to lie awake with continuous thoughts racing through my mind seem like a memory from a long time ago. I feel like I sleep better and I wake up every morning refreshed and ready to start the day. I would definitely say anyone who is curious about it should get one and see what you think. Even if you aren’t a super anxious person, I would still say get one. I’m so glad I did. They are cozy and warm, just like a regular blanket. And the weight really does feel like you are getting a comforting hug, and who wouldn’t like that?