If you regularly have problems sleeping, you may have insomnia. But the good news is you’re not alone, and there are remedies.
According to the NHS, it's believed that a third of Brits will experience insomnia at some point in their lives.
You may have insomnia if you regularly:
- Struggle to fall asleep
- Wake up frequently during the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep
- Wake up early and can't get back to sleep, even if you feel tired
- Feel tired and/or irritable throughout the day
- Find it difficult to concentrate on tasks because of tiredness
One potential remedy is a weighted blanket, which has been shown to help with insomnia in older children and adults.
What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket for insomnia applies gentle pressure to your body to help you prepare for sleep. We like to think of it as one giant hug.
These blankets aren’t just great for sleeping; they’re also perfect for the sofa or for keeping you warm in the winter if you want to save a bit of money on heating.
Before we talk about the full benefits of weighted blankets, let’s look a little more closely at the health risks of insomnia and why you mustn’t ignore them.
Here’s how insomnia affects your physical and mental health:
Research has found that insomnia with short sleep duration is associated with hypertension, diabetes and mortality, as well as neurocognitive impairment such as short-term memory problems. In fact, even insomnia with normal sleep duration is linked to anxiety, depressed mood and poor coping resources.
Poor sleep can lead to a weaker immune system
A 2012 study found that prolonged sleep curtailment and the subsequent stress response can lead to immunodeficiency, which makes it harder for your immune system to fight off illnesses and infections.
Poor sleep can also make you gain weight
Short sleep duration is strongly associated with weight gain and obesity in adults and children. When you don’t sleep enough, you don’t have as much energy during the day. As a result, you’re more likely to turn to sugary foods and drinks to increase your energy levels and compensate for your lack of sleep.
But more sleep can help you cut those calories
A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that participants who slept more hours consumed less sugar than those who slept for fewer hours. The results suggested that a lack of sleep is a risk factor for obesity and that increasing sleep duration could help reduce sugar consumption.
So if you’re suffering from insomnia, here’s how weighted blankets can help you sleep better:
- They can help you feel calmer and less anxious
In 2015, the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found that weighted blankets may reduce symptoms of insomnia by altering tactile inputs. The researchers noted that the deep pressure touch therapy helped insomniacs psychologically by making them calmer and reducing their anxiety.
- They can help you sleep for longer
Another study in Sweden found that participants with chronic insomnia slept significantly longer and moved less during the night when they used a weighted blanket. The study found that the participants slept less and were more restless when they stopped using the weighted blanket. Many also felt that they had better quality sleep with a weighted blanket for insomnia.
- They can help you feel more comfortable and secure
As we mentioned earlier, weighted blankets feel like a warm hug, which helps to relax your nervous system. Think of a time when you were under a thick blanket on a cold winter's morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. This is the same type of feeling.
But won’t sleeping tablets solve insomnia?
It might be tempting to assume that sleeping tablets are a quick and easy fix for insomnia, but this isn’t the case. Over-the-counter pills may provide short-term benefits by helping you fall asleep faster, but they won't address the causes of your insomnia.
You may become too reliant on sleeping tablets, which could lead to drug tolerance, meaning you need more medication to achieve the same effects. Or, over time, it could progress to drug dependence.
Sleeping pills have also been linked to an increased risk of early death. This is according to a US study that looked at more than 10,000 people who were taking prescribed sleeping pills and 23,000 similar people who had never taken these pills.
The research found that those who took the prescription sleeping pills, even at low doses, were more likely to die earlier than those who didn't take them.
In contrast, weighted blankets are extremely safe for most adults and should not cause any side effects. After all, you don’t swallow a blanket!
So what type of weighted blanket is right for me?
It's important to choose an insomnia weighted blanket that's adapted to your body weight in order to achieve the full therapeutic effect.
Koala's are available in two weights (6.8kg or 9kg) and two sizes (48 by 78 inches and 68 by 80 inches). You should choose a weighted blanket that's between 7% and 13% of your body weight. So, for example, if you weigh 60kg, choose our 6.8kg weighted blanket, and if you weigh 100kg, choose the 9kg version.
Our smaller (48 by 78 inch) blanket is well suited to single beds, while the larger 68 by 80-inch blanket is perfect for double or king-size beds.
Can weighted blankets help with other sleep disorders too?
There is also some evidence that weighted blankets could improve sleep quality for people who suffer from restless leg syndrome.
Research has found that a weighted blanket can reduce the crawling sensation those suffering from RLS experience, which can aid in falling asleep.
It’s not yet clear whether weighted blankets will help people who experience other sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnoea, although research in this area is still evolving.