The first time I heard about weighted blankets was whilst listening to David Baddiel’s recent ‘Sleep’ podcast. I was, of course, trying to get to sleep at the time. A chronic insomniac, for most of his life, he’d tried every gadget or relaxation technique going. Unsurprisingly, he was pretty cynical. Amazingly, within a short space of time, he became a fan of the weighted blanket. In an interview with Zoe Ball for Radio 2, he admitted that his new weighted blanket was working for him and that it was helping him sleep.
THE SCIENCE OF WEIGHTED BLANKETS
Weighted blankets are typically filled with small beads made of glass, plastic or sand stitched into the inside of the fabric. It’s these that add an evenly distributed pressure to the blanket.
There have been preliminary scientific studies with very positive indications around:
- Stress and anxiety reduction
- Chronic pain management
But it’s fair to say that the evidence is not rock-solid as yet. More research needs to be conducted. What’s clear is the evidence that deep touch pressure stimulates our sensory nervous system. In turn, this reduces autonomic arousal like rapid, shallow breathing and a fast heart rate. The consequence? It calms a restless body. Studies are therefore indicating links to reduced stress and a clearer headspace after use of a weighted blanket.
BENEFITS OF WEIGHTED BLANKETS
WEIGHTED BLANKETS FEEL LIKE A HUG
Using a weighted blanket creates the feeling of having a firm hug. It’s comforting without feeling constrained. And as the nights draw in and the weather becomes colder, who doesn’t like to get cosy, snuggly and experience some well-needed winter warmth?
WEIGHTED BLANKETS IMPROVE SLEEP
They’re the new go-to for sleep problems. Comfort plays a big part in getting a good night’s rest. Whilst scientific research is in its infancy, many users report they sleep more deeply and don’t wake up as often.
Whether you’re David Baddiel or the person on the street, there’s a weighted blanket to suit everyone. Blanket weights begin from 5 pounds and go up to 30 pounds. The general rule is to go for one that’s 10% of your body weight. It’s important that you should be able to move freely underneath it.
There are caveats of course. Don’t use them for under 2s or if you suffer sleep apnoea, asthma or claustrophobia. If you use them for older children, only use them at the start of the night, then take them off.
YOU CAN USE WEIGHTED BLANKETS ANYWHERE
If you don’t fancy the idea of one on your bed, there’s no reason why you can’t use it for general destressing. There’s surely nothing better after a hard day’s work. Wrap yourself up in a weighted blanket, recline on the sofa with a cuppa and Netflix or if you’re like me, a bar of chocolate and TikTok! Pure heaven.
WEIGHTED BLANKETS HELPS REDUCE ANXIETY
With the onset of Covid-19, lockdowns, unemployment rising and the dark winter months, anxiety is at unprecedented levels. More than ever, we need to use the tools that are available to us.
Anxiety and sleep are so interlinked. Weighted blankets tackle both issues through the deep touch pressure. It’s this sensation that has an effect on our hormones, namely serotonin, a neurotransmitter which induces calming and oxytocin, a feel-good hormone. Mums will remember oxytocin, the so-called ‘love drug’ from childbirth and breastfeeding. It can help with pain, lower stress levels and depression. A study from Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders (2015) found that a weighted blanket helped those with insomnia sleep better because it helped them feel more settled for bed.
IT WORKS EVEN BETTER WITH AROMATHERAPY
Couple a weighted blanket with our SLEEP WELL Therapy Balm for a blissful night of sleep, a sophisticated floral lavender blend that harnesses the therapeutic benefits of Lavender, Chamomile, Palmarosa and Ho Wood, and balances them with Bois de Rose and Geranium.
Even if you have a weighted blanket, don’t let other aspects of your sleep hygiene slip. Keep to a consistent bedtime, switch off technology at least an hour beforehand (2 hours if you can manage it), exercise often and avoid food and drink in the evening that hinders sleep.
If David Baddiel can get a good night's sleep, there’s hope for the rest of us!