As babies, we all had comforters. One of yours will most probably have been a blanket; something soft and familiar. As adults, that notion seems childish, but you’d be surprised by how many adults reach out for their favourite blanket after a hard day, with its softness and familiar smell providing comfort in times of stress.
Weighted blankets roll with this idea but heighten it. They are a comforter, only this time they’re designed specifically for adults.
Comforters have helped people sleep better for a millennia, and they do not have to be blankets - incense and music are also comforters. However, some people respond best to a physical stimulus, which is where weighted blankets come in.
Sleeping with a weighted blanket
Sleeping with a weighted blanket isn’t like sleeping with a regular blanket. Weighted blankets typically weigh 6-9kg, which is 7-13% of most people’s body weight, and some nine times more than a double duvet made from cotton.
Interestingly, deep pressure stimulation is also used in hospitals, only the device used in hospitals is called a squeeze or hug machine. A hug machine replicates the feeling of being hugged, which triggers a positive hormonal response in the brain (specifically, an increase in melatonin and a reduction in cortisol production).
Weighted blankets enable the very same deep pressure stimulation at home, or anywhere, which is why they are proving so popular.
Versatility is another reason why they are growing in popularity. Weighted blankets can be worn around the house and moved from room to room easily. They are also affordable, and if looked after, will last a lifetime - or at least a very long time.
What are the benefits of sleeping with one?
Okay, so get this - sleeping with a weighted blanket could help you drift off quicker and stay asleep for longer. And when you do wake up, perhaps for the loo in the middle of the night, you might find it easier to drift off again.
Hello high-quality sleep!
We base these assumptions on other people’s success stories, with the gentle pressure of a weighted blanket improving the sleep quality of many people. And it isn’t just about increasing comfort and reducing movement in bed - there’s actual, real science to back it up, with studies dating back several years.
Let’s get science-y!
Studies show deep pressure stimulation (which, remember, is enabled via a weighted blanket) increases serotonin production, the chemical that produces hormones. It also increases melatonin production, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. This is why weighted blankets are so good for sleep!
Not only that, but deep pressure stimulation has been shown to reduce output of the stress hormone cortisol. This calming effect also helps with sleep.
So, what you have on a hormonal level is a double-whammy of increased melatonin production and decreased cortisol. These two things together are a powerful sleeping aid - and the best part is it’s all completely non-medicinal.
A weighted blanket for sleeping is therefore a safe and effective way to improve sleep quality. All you need is the blanket and a bed.
Let’s get practical!
If you struggle to sleep, there’s a strong chance you toss and turn. A lot.
Left, right. Up, down. Pillow on head, pillow off head. No pillow at all. You probably try all kinds of different combinations to drift off, and what works one night probably won’t work the next. Rinse, repeat. Ugh.
It’s horrible, but a weighted blanket could help.
Weighted blankets apply firm, gentle pressure to your body, including your legs, which plenty of people have found reduces the urge to toss and turn. There’s a general feeling of serenity when wearing a weighted blanket. You feel comfy and assured which helps you stay relaxed for long enough to drift off.
Another reason weighted blankets can help you sleep is because they replicate the sensation of being cuddled - and they don’t get too warm. Being cuddled is lovely but not when you get too warm. Weighted blankets can be worn without a duvet when it’s warm to ensure you always get the therapeutic benefits.
Conditions sleeping with a weighted blanket can help with
There is evidence to show sleeping with a weighted blanket can help with:
- Insomnia [SciMedCentral]
- Anxiety [Taylor Francis]
- Tourette syndrome [Tourette Action]
- ADHD sleep disorders [PubLMed]
- Autism sleep disorders [PubLMed]
Depression is also commonly linked with weighted blankets. However, there are actually no clinical studies covering depression and weighted blankets. Some people report good results, but these are not verified in any official way.
If you have any other of the conditions highlighted above, a weighted blanket could prove to be a very useful non-medicinal therapy.
Getting the most from your weighted blanket
It’s worth a go in any case. Just make sure you follow these tips to get the most out of your weighted blanket and deep pressure therapy:
- A weighted blanket should weigh 7-13% of your body weight. The Koala Blanket is available as a 6.8kg or 9kg blanket. If you weigh <85kg, choose the 6.8kg version. If you weigh >85kg, choose the 9kg version.
- Choose a weighted blanket with a glass pellet filling. Glass pellets are smaller but denser than plastic pellets, so less are needed for the same weight. This reduces the sensation of filling movement.
- Use your weighted blanket for at least 30 days. Deep pressure therapy can take a little while to show its benefits.
- Choose a weighted blanket with a removable outer cover. The outer cover will need washing periodically - the same as any other blanket.
- The Koala Blanket also has a really useful loop and tie feature, so you can fasten it to your normal duvet. This keeps it in place in the night. This is unique to the Koala Blanket and makes a massive difference for comfort.