In our increasingly fast-paced, constantly-connected world, a good night’s sleep is at a premium. Unfortunately, however, it’s something many of us are missing out on, with recent YouGov data revealing one third of Australians aren’t getting enough shut-eye. Is it any wonder, then, that so many of us are turning to weighted blankets for support? From how they work to exactly what they feel like, here’s everything you need to know about these comfy, cosy, all-natural sleep aids.
What is a weighted blanket?
A drug-free sleep support for adults and children with insomnia, anxiety, stress and sensory disorders, a weighted blanket is essentially a heavy, quilt-style blanket containing internal pockets filled with (surprise surprise) weights. Snuggling under one gives your whole body ‘deep touch pressure stimulation’, which is believed to soothe the senses and assist with falling asleep. While they have recently received a lot of attention weighted blankets can in fact be traced back to the nineties, when they were first used to help calm anxious and autistic children.
How do weighted blankets work?
Who doesn’t feel a whole lot better after a big, warm hug? With small glass, plastic or metal beads evenly distributed throughout, a weighted blanket mimics this sensation. In more science-y terms, weighted blankets apply proprioceptive or deep touch pressure, which is known to boost serotonin—the neurotransmitter (and ‘happy hormone’) involved in the regulation of both moods and the body’s sleep-wake cycle. By helping to calm the nervous system, weighted blankets can help you relax and drift off to sleep sooner. Many users also report an improvement in overall sleep quality.
What can weighted blankets help with?
While anyone can enjoy the comforting embrace of a weighted blanket, they are most beneficial for those with:
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Sensory issues
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
Not just for insomnia, weighted or sensory blankets apply a soothing pressure to the body, and can be used as needed throughout the day (or night) to help regulate your emotions. Some dentists even use weighted blankets to reduce anxiety among patients! To recap, weighted blankets can help you to:
- Calm down in stressful situations
- Feel less anxious
- Regulate your mood
- Relax before bed (or as needed)
- Fall asleep more easily
- Enjoy deeper, more restful sleep
- Awake well-rested, alert and happy
- Enjoy a greater sense of well being
How heavy is a weighted blanket?
There is no standard weight for weighted blankets; instead, they should be approximately 10% of your body weight. This is the weight required to trigger that magical deep touch pressure and ‘hugged’ sensation. Children’s blankets are available in 2.2kg and 3.3kg, whilst adult sizes are available in 5kg, 7kg, 9kg and 11kg.
Can children use weighted blankets?
Yes. Weighted blankets were first used in paediatric care, and they may be beneficial for children with anxiety, autism, stress and sensory disorders. However, medical advice from your GP or specialist should be sought before using.