Have you ever laid in bed for hours trying to drift off?
How many times have you counted those pesky sheep? 🐑
Do you cry with exhaustion because you just can't shut your mind off? Hmm... Sounds like you’ve suffered with insomnia.
Want to know if a weighted blanket is going to help with sleepless nights?
We've written this guide to explain how weighted blankets for insomnia work, it should tell you everything you need to know.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a very common sleeping disorder, I'm pretty sure everyone has experienced insomnia at one point in their life.
In fact, apparently one in seven adults suffer from insomnia symptoms whether that is difficulties falling asleep, difficulties staying asleep or waking up painfully early.
Imagine the thought of being absolutely exhausted but nothing & I mean NOTHING will set you off to sleep.
Lying awake for hours knowing you have to get up early to go to work or school, look after your kids, do chores or care for your family.
Staring at the ceiling, wondering why something as basic as falling asleep is so damn difficult.
There are a range of physical and physiological factors that can cause insomnia.
The good news is that it is often a temporary problem.
However, sometimes the cause of insomnia can stem from an underlying medical condition such as anxiety, so always speak to your doctor first.
Most people have read all the tips on how to beat insomnia and tested them all – hopefully with some positive results.
Yet some of us just STILL can't seem to get a good night's sleep, even after doing regular exercise, cutting down on caffeine, creating a bedtime routine or writing down your worries.
Pro tip: It's worth finding your chronotype before trying to implement a new bed time routine.
Should I Try A Weighted Blanket for Insomnia?
Okay so now you must be thinking, weighted blankets? Huh?
How could a blanket improve sleep?
Let's find out!
How Do Weighted Blankets Help With Insomnia?
One of the most common causes of insomnia is stress.
Being concerned about work, school, health, finances or family can keep your mind racing all night and turn you into a serial tosser-and-turner.
Here's how weighted blankets work:
Weighted blankets can help relieve symptoms of stress by using deep touch pressure (DTP) also known as deep pressure stimulation, which is a form of therapy activated by applying weight all over the body (just like a deep tissue massage).
This kicks your nervous system into ‘rest’ mode and encourages your body to calm down, helping to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
The pressure of a heavy blanket not only makes you feel like you’re snuggled in a cocoon, but it also encourages a release of serotonin which is often dubbed the happy hormone.
Serotonin is the key neurotransmitter that helps control sleep, digestion and mood.
When it's time for bed, your body needs healthy levels of serotonin in order to produce enough melatonin, the natural chemical that controls your sleep cycle and encourages you to go to sleep.
So, let's do some simple maths...
Weighted blanket + your body = serotonin
Serotonin + melatonin = sleep
Another common cause of insomnia is chronic pain.
Some of the top causes of chronic pain are back pain, arthritis, migraines, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, shingles or nerve damage.
Living with chronic pain can be very difficult and has a huge impact on your quality of life.
Finding a cure for chronic pain is often impossible but there are ways to help manage the pain.
Have you heard of oxytocin?
It’s a neurotransmitter which can lower levels of pain.
There are many ways to naturally boost the production of oxytocin, one of these being the ‘runners high’, the feeling you get after a long-distanced jog.
But sometimes it's not feasible to run for miles.
A less exhausting way to stimulate the production of oxytocin is by wrapping your body in a weighted blanket.
There are several studies on the bodies reaction to a hug, that prove that the body naturally releases oxytocin during a tight squeeze.
The study of deep pressure as a calming mechanism was first inspired by Temple Grandin’s hug machine.
The secure feeling of being tucked into a weighted blanket imitates the feeling of a warm, safe hug releasing oxytocin and reducing blood pressure.
More maths, Weighted Blanket + your body = the feeling of being hugged = oxytocin = reduced pain
Sometimes I feel like I should have become a maths teacher instead of a weighted blanket specialist!
How Important is Sleep? 😴
Don’t you think it's weird how as a kid, going to sleep was the worst thing in the world?
You were so desperate to stay awake so you didn’t miss out on anything.
I remember the nights my dad would carry me upstairs after falling asleep on the sofa, usually whilst watching eastenders.
But as you get older, you can't wait to get to bed after a long, stressful day.
Tucking yourself into bed after is so satisfying, rubbing your feet on your sheets and snuggling down ready to visit snoozeville for 8 hours.
As you get older you realise how important sleep is, and if you're no longer a teenager and you still don’t understand this then you need to carry on reading.
Sleep is an absolutely vital, but often neglected, component of a person's health and well-being.
Sleep allows your body to repair, recover, recharge and refresh (so many r’s) for the next day.
Most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night to keep the body healthy, fight of diseases and allow the brain to function properly.
Lack of sleep can impair your ability to do normal day to day tasks, you may struggle to concentrate, think clearly and process memories.
Oh, and your immune system will suck.
What Happens If I Don't Sleep?
I'm sure everyone has experienced the usual fatigue, lack of focus and short temper that follows after a rubbish night's sleep.
I don’t know about you but, if I don’t get a good night's sleep than I turn into the grumpiest, snappiest, most irritable person walking on our planet.
An occasional bad night's sleep is not going to do much harm but several sleepless nights can really trigger some serious mental side effects.
Your mood will drop, leaving you feeling low, depressed or anxious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to make decisions or concentrate and you may fall asleep unexpectedly during the day.
Adding these together is a recipe for disaster, your risk of injury or accidents increases massively and you can become a danger to yourself or others around you.
Who Shouldn't Use a Weighted Blanket?
Unfortunately, not all of us can enjoy the benefits of weighted blankets (boooo!).
We advise that you should not use a weighted blanket if you have any chronic respiratory conditions, these include sleep apnea, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Did you know that sleep apnea can be an underlying cause of insomnia?
They’re so closely related that in some occasions if you have insomnia or sleep apnea, there's a good chance you’ve got the other.
How Long Until I Notice A Difference in My Sleep? ⏰
Truth be told, there’s no way I can answer that for you.
It depends on your personal sleeping habits.
Some blanket users feel calming effects instantly.
Others take time to adjust and some just don’t respond to pressure therapy at all.
Relaxing under your weighted blanket consistently is the best way to develop healthier sleeping patterns and reap the long-term rewards.
How Do I Choose A Weighted Blanket for Insomnia?
First things first, you need to jump on the scales.
You should buy a weighted blanket that is as close as possible to 10% of your body weight
Weighted blankets are designed to make you feel comfortable, if your weighted blanket is too heavy, it could have a counterproductive result.
But, on the other hand your blanket should be heavy enough to apply an appropriate amount of pressure to your activation points.
10% is a great guideline to follow. If you fall between weights, just round up to the nearest weight available.
Next step; what kind of sleeper are you?
If you like to steal all the covers and tuck yourself into a cocoon then I would advise a minky, fleecy & snuggly blanket – just like our Karma Snug.
If you find yourself kicking all the covers to the floor in a sweaty rage, you should find something which is soft but breathable – like our Karma Comfort.
Now all you need to do is pick a colour and you’re good to go!
There’s a difference between a good weighted blanket and a bad one.
Weighted blankets can help relieve some of your insomnia symptoms as long as you:
- Maintain other healthy lifestyle habbits
- Buy a blanket that is well made and breathable
You’ve got this!
If you have any questions or additional thoughts, feel free to share them with me below.
- "Weighted blankets can decrease insomnia severity: Randomized, controlled trial finds that weighted blankets are safe and effective." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2020.
- Hannah Morphy, MMedSci, Kate M. Dunn, PhD, Martyn Lewis, PhD, Helen F. Boardman, PhD, Peter R. Croft, MD, Epidemiology of Insomnia: a Longitudinal Study in a UK Population, Sleep, Volume 30, Issue 3, March 2007, Pages 274–280, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/30.3.274
- Cognitive benefits of sleep and their loss due to sleep deprivation Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen