Heavy Sleeper

How Weighted Blankets Are Changing the Insomnia Game

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There are few feelings as soothing as slipping under a blanket at the end of a tiring day. That simple action marks the end of responsibility and care—at least for a brief while. However, with recent innovations in the array of blankets to choose from, sleep time covers are providing a whole host of advantages apart from warmth and comfort.

Welcome to the world of weighted blankets. As the phrase implies, these blankets are manufactured to be thicker and heavier than their normal counterparts. The series of benefits provided by weighted blankets is based on the concept of DPT, or Deep Pressure Touch. Such touch is firm but not constricting. Imagine the release of endorphins and serotonin (those feel-good chemicals) when being hugged. Getting a good snuggle from a loved one is but one form of DPT. The weighted blankets, in effect, provide users with a night-long hug, providing pressure akin to that from a massage, the aforementioned hug, or that of weighted compression devices such as belts and other therapeutic devices.

The origin of weighted blankets comes from clinical use in the treatment of children with severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and autism. Studies have confirmed and validated the noticeable soothing effect of the nighttime treatment. Gradually, it became obvious that this calming and rehabilitative function might be of use to the general population, not just those in immediate distress. The use of these blankets gradually spread, and they are now gaining popularity. Weighted blankets are widely available through a number of manufacturers and retail outlets both online and in local stores.

One of the main benefits weighted blankets promise is alleviation of insomnia. Their pressure reassures the sleeper until he or she drifts off. An additional benefit is that the mass of the blanket prevents slipping and sliding, keeping the restless sleeper covered and secure,  and less likely to wake up in a knot of twisted bedcovers. In addition, the weighted blanket seems to be particularly effective in curbing the dreaded “restless leg syndrome,” a major irritant that keeps many of us awake at night.

If the benefits to insomniacs weren’t enough, there also seems to be a significant relief of anxiety experienced by users of weighted blankets. Here again, the secret is the pressure that acts upon the body’s network of pressure points, unknotting tension, spurring a feeling of well-being, and a gentle reassurance by being contained and encircled, much as a baby might experience from being swaddled or cradled securely in its mother’s arms. Weighted blankets help those who can’t sleep as well as those suffering from underlying or related conditions such as anxiety. For those plagued by a restless mind, the blankets offer a simple, effortless, and drug-free therapy that can be used every night without the worry of the myriad side effects associated with conventional drugs.

Those who have never used a weighted blanket might wonder how much weight the blanket should contain. The general consensus is that the weighted blanket should be in the range of 15 to 30 percent of the user’s body weight. Devoted users are so attached that they even take their weighted blankets with them on the road, probably counteracting the anxiety and insomnia that the stress of travel may generate.

Of course, as with all changes to routine or new habits, it’s always best to consult with a doctor before beginning and to seek medical advice immediately if you experience any symptoms of discomfort or unusual reactions.

Seamus Mullarkey is a writer in New York City who sleeps soundly under his weighted blanket.

Weighted blankets help those who can’t sleep
as well as those suffering from underlying or related conditions such as anxiety.