According to several epidemiological studies, the average person in an industrialized country has about a 30% risk of developing poor sleep patterns or outright insomnia within their lifetime. This number tends to grow exponentially if an individual has a stressful job, anxiety, or hardships either current or previous that can add stress to their daily lives and thus make it hard to “shut down” for the night. As a result, many individuals have taken to medications, folk remedies, and physical practices to help aid in their sleep. But what if there was a way to increase the quality of your sleep without changing much of your daily life? Here we’ll take a look at how Weighted Blankets can be used for Insomnia, and why they may work for you.
First, What is Insomnia?
Many people have heard the term Insomnia, and many of them claim to have it from time to time, usually a much higher percentage than the aforementioned 1 in 3. But let’s break down what Insomnia really is, and what it can mean for someone in their day to day lives.
To best define Insomnia, one has to first classify which type of Insomnia is being talked about: Acute, Chronic, Primary or Secondary. Primary Insomnia is a form of Insomnia that is not caused by any other health issues and can include symptoms such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up often during the night (often with tossing and turning), waking up too early and feeling tired when waking. Secondary Insomnia can be caused by other medical disorders such as obesity, asthma, depression, arthritis, heartburn, certain medications and drugs (especially those that depress your rate and depth of breathing such as alcohol, which while it can make you sleepy can also rob you of REM sleep). These symptoms can be the same as the first but may subside with the proper treatment of disorders or cessation of alcohol use. Now, regarding Acute and Chronic Insomnia, the distinction is primarily if a person suffers from infrequent bouts of insomnia, or periods lasting less than a few weeks, then it can be called Acute. If someone is suffering from Insomnia for more than a few weeks at a time, it is then considered a chronic condition.
So, a bad night’s sleep, right? What harm could that really do? As it turns out, quite a bit. First, let’s talk about short-term side effects. We’ve all had a night or two where we just couldn’t get rest, whether it be due to nerves before a big exam, a dinner gone wrong, or the neighbors being so courteous as to serenade you with their KISS cover band at 2 in the morning. How did you feel? If you’re like most, you came into the next day groggy, unfocused, and likely more than a little upset over the night’s events. It could make you forget small details, make silly mistakes, or cause a bit of damage to social relationships (for example, accidentally calling your significant other by the name of your pet. That probably contributed to the next night’s poor sleep). Having one or two nights like this over a long period of time isn’t particularly harmful, certainly. But what about long-term side effects? If you begin to suffer from insomnia for longer, significant physiological changes take place that can increase your risk for much more serious disorders. One of these is that due to a lack of melatonin in your system (primarily a “sleep regulation hormone”), there can be an increased risk for cancer and overall oxidative stress (as a secondary use of melatonin helps protect DNA and reduce stress loads). Likewise, chronic fatigue can lead to heart disease, diabetes, drug dependency, depression, anxiety, and even death in the cases of accidents. That’s quite a lot to take in and surely has you wondering how something as simple as a weighted blanket can help.
How does a Weighted Blanket Help with Insomnia?
So, a quick side note before we begin. The primary function of a weighted blanket is to perform what is termed “deep touch pressure therapy” which means that those who are suffering from Secondary Insomnia may want to ask their doctor before using something like the Sleep Force blanket. This is because the added pressure on someone with circulatory issues or obesity may further exacerbate blood and oxygen flow, making matters worse. Outside of these issues, however, a Sleep Force blanket may serve users in the following way.
In many ways, a weighted blanket works much like a warm, sustained hug. Anyone who’s had a good cuddle and nap can attest that the experience, in general, is much better than napping alone, and that’s because of a simple fact: Humans, when feeling safe and secure, tend to have an increased level of Serotonin, which helps calm individuals further. Serotonin also helps stimulate the release of melatonin, which as mentioned earlier is primarily used to regulate sleep. This is paired with the pressure itself helping with gentle immobilization of limbs to prevent tossing and turning, and creating a positive cycle of relaxation, sleep and mood stabilization. For more information on how weighted blankets can help, looking into the research paper “Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia” by Ackerley, Badre, and Olausson, which includes significant results and a full analysis of variance examination of study samples.
What sort of Weighted Blanket Should I Use for Insomnia?
If you are interested in purchasing a weighted blanket for Insomnia, it is recommended you take a look at our Weighted Blanket Buyers Guide to find out what sort of fabrics and weights would work best for you. In most cases, it will be up to personal preference as, after all, your comfort will greatly contribute to your ability to get a good nights sleep.