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Sleep

What are weighted blankets and do they actually work?

The sleep industry goes through a lot of trends; over the past few years, we’ve seen gel-infused latex, coconut fibre products, and lavender-infused sleep masks. One trend that has gathered significant momentum is for consumers to sleep under weighted blankets. Once seen as a commodity, the scientific evidence is refutable; these blankets actually work by promoting a sense of comfort and wellbeing.

What are they?

Weighted blankets are exactly as described – blankets that have weight added to them. It sounds pretty obvious, but research shows that for a weighted blanket to be useful, it must weigh around 10-12 percent of your total body weight. For example, if you tip the scales at 60kg, the most effective blanket would weigh between 6 to 8kg at most.

Weighted blankets aren’t a new invention; they’ve been around for decades and have been used by medics to reduce stress and anxiety – particularly in individuals with autism, multiple sclerosis (MS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How do they work?

There’s nothing quite like a reassuring hug or cuddle to make us feel warm and loved, and the additional weight of the blanket is designed to offer a sense of security, comfort and reassurance.

Take the latest weighted blanket currently on Kickstarter, Gravity, as an example. According to the company’s own literature, Gravity helps “relax the nervous system by stimulating the feeling of being held or hugged”.

Research has shown that weighted blankets genuinely work, particularly with children who have anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as adults with insomnia. A study published recently in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found “a weighted blanket that’s more than 10 percent of a person’s body weight has been found to provide beneficial, calming effects”.

Furthermore, the study found that participants liked sleeping with the blanket, found it easier to settle, and reported a much better quality of sleep, and awoke feeling more refreshed.

With research backing, weighted blankets are beginning to make an impact. Hospitals have long-since employed weighted blankets to calm patients and promote sleep, but families are now adopting them to increase deep, restful sleep.

According to Gravity, weighted blankets “use the power of proprioceptive input (more commonly known as ‘deep touch pressure stimulation’), a well regarded therapeutic method that stimulates pressure points on the body, and is linked to improved sleep, mood, and relaxation.”

So, do you need one?

If you’re struggling with anxiety, stress or just have trouble dropping into a deep, restful sleep, the science speaks for itself: a weighted blanket is definitely worth a try. If a weighted blanket doesn’t help you sleep better – especially during these cooler months – perhaps take a closer look at your mattress… That’s definitely something we know a thing or two about!

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