With the stressors of modern society, it’s no secret that people are sleeping less and less. That being said, the facts and figures surrounding insomnia are still alarming.
- People sleep 20% less than they did a century ago.
- Almost one-third of the global population suffers from insomnia.
- Over 10 million Americans use prescription pills or OTC sleep aids.
- The Institute of Medicine estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on treating sleep disorders each year.
- According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost 60% of Americans admit to driving while drowsy. That’s 168 million people. Nearly 37% of Americans, or 103 million people, have fallen asleep while behind the wheel.
Those who suffer from insomnia know that it is a never-ending cycle. You crawl into bed and toss and turn for hours. No matter how tired you are, your brain won’t turn off long enough to let you sleep. You wake up feeling exhausted, only to find yourself in the same situation the following night.
While many people quickly reach for sleeping pills, the side effects can be dangerous. The longer you take sleeping pills, the higher your tolerance and the harder it is to wean off of them. Sleeping pills can also affect your mood, and mixing them with other medications could be fatal.
Luckily, there are natural ways to combat insomnia.
Weighted blankets use the same effects of swaddling a baby or a hug from a loved one. They put pressure on the body’s sensory receptors, which immediately calms the mind and body.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
Designed to weigh 10% of your body weight, weighted therapy blankets evenly distribute weight across your body. This proprioceptive input is scientifically known as Deep Pressure Therapy (DTP).
Deep Pressure Therapy has a profound effect on a section of the nervous system called the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).
The ANS controls unconscious actions, such as breathing, digestion, and heart rate. This system can be further broken down into two divisions. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is responsible for the body’s “fight or flight” response. When the body is under a perceived attack, the SNS releases hormones that increase blood pressure, blood sugar, and breathing.
The second division of the ANS is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS). This division is the compliment to the SNS. It calms the body down by decreasing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
Research shows that evenly distributing weight across the body compresses the nervous stem. This Deep Pressure Therapy actually reduces “fight or flight” activity, while increasing PSNS activity.
Do Weighted Blankets Actually Help?
In 2015, Gaby Badre of Gothenburg University conducted an extensive study of weighted blankets and insomnia. He took 31 patients with chronic insomnia and gave them each a weighted blanket. Badre closely monitored each patient’s sleep and
Badre found that over half of the participants experienced a positive effect. The weight of the blanket made them feel safe, making it easier to fall asleep. Badre also reported that when directly placed on the skin, the weighted blanket had a neurological effect on the brain. Not only did serotonin production increase, melatonin production increased as well.
This study confirmed what scientists have long theorized: weighted blankets and Deep Pressure Therapy have a positive effect. They encourage feelings of tranquility and reinforce healthy REM sleep.
If you have any questions about weighted therapy blankets, please let us know in the comments below. We would love to help!