Do weighted blankets really work?

You already know that getting a good night’s sleep is key to a productive day. But unfortunately, stress, sickness and several other factors can prevent you from having a peaceful slumber. Instead of turning to medication, many people are choosing to relax with a weighted blanket before bed. Can they really help you sleep better?

What is a weighted blanket?

Weighted blankets are ones that have been filled with pellets or discs that make it heavier than a standard blanket. They often weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. Some blankets have weights sewn into pouches while others have a cover that separates from the weighted fabric.

What do people experience from a weighted blanket?

For many people, these blankets have a calming effect on their mind and body, much like a hug. The weight leaves them feeling secured, which allows them to easily relax and fall asleep quickly. That calming effect is actually a chemical reaction. BCBSKS medical director Dr. Daryl Callahan explains how the release of oxytocin plays a part in relaxing your body.

“The medical effects of a weighted blanket on a patient would be similar to getting or giving a hug. Hugging releases oxytocin, which gives us a chemical universally comforting feeling that goes back to infant-mother cuddling or romantic partners. The physiologic effects reduce heart rate and blood pressure, as well as reduces stress by helping control anxiety,” he said.

Do weighted blankets really work?

There haven’t been many independent studies of the effects of weighted blankets, but a 2015 study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found that participants who suffered from insomnia had a calmer night’s sleep when they used a weighted blanket.

The research is still limited on the scientific effects of a weighted blanket, but there are many testimonials from people who find comfort from their use. If you’re interested in trying one for yourself, it’s generally suggested to use a blanket that’s 10 percent of your body weight. And of course, make sure the blanket still allows you to move with ease.

BCBSKS members are encouraged to check their contracts for specific details about benefit coverage. Log into BlueAccess® for more information.

Source: SciMedCentral, Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders

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