Today, millions of Americans are suffering from an epidemic of insomnia and anxiety.
Some experts figure that up to 50 percent of us toss and turn when we go to bed and have issues falling asleep.1 And more than 30 percent of us experience an anxiety disorder each year.2
But, there’s a simple, natural, low-tech treatment for both of these problems. Best of all you don’t have to drink a tea, take a pill, or even do any exercise. Just get under the covers and pull up a weighted blanket…
Researchers who have studied the effects of using a weighted blanket have discovered it produces some remarkable benefits that rival those of many drugs and supplements. First of all, there’s a benefit to levels of your sleep hormone…
Increases Your Body’s Sleep Hormone
Many folks who have trouble falling asleep take the hormone melatonin to help them fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. And several studies show melatonin can be effective for helping you relax and drift off to sleep.3
Your body produces melatonin in response to darkness. The hormone helps to keep your daily (circadian) rhythm on track – wakeful during the day and sleepy at night. Research shows that taking melatonin may also help you deal with jet lag and anxiety as well as bedtime difficulties.4 But today’s fast-paced, “never turn off your devices” lifestyle is getting in the way. Research shows that seeing bright light at night from the city streetlights or from your smartphone can impair your body’s release of melatonin.
A weighted blanket can help.
Investigations into the effects of using a weighted blanket show that it can naturally increase your body’s melatonin production. For instance, a study at Uppsala University in Sweden that tested the effects of weighted blankets on 26 people at bedtime found increased levels of melatonin circulate in the body while sleeping under a heavier blanket.
In this test, the weighted blankets were 12 percent of each subject’s body weight. So, if somebody weighed 150 pounds, their blanket weighed 18 pounds. The researchers took a collection of sleepers’ saliva while they were covered with either a light blanket or a heavier one.
The researchers analyzed the periodically taken saliva samples for melatonin content as well as oxytocin (a hormone related to emotional responses), cortisol (a stress hormone) and markers of the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. They found that melatonin increased in people under the weighted blankets compared to subjects who used lighter blankets. But they didn’t find any changes in oxytocin, cortisol, or nervous system activity.5
Then there’s the improved quality of sleep…
Improved Sleep and Better Mood
Studies of how using a weighted blanket helps older people sleep have also uncovered significant benefits.
In one test on more than 100 seniors over the age of 65, researchers discovered that the blankets improve people’s sleep, brighten their moods, and increase their energy for everyday activities. As a result, their overall health and quality of life also improves.6
The researchers point out that when sleeping under weighted blankets people awoke fewer times during the night and enjoyed a more “cohesive” and satisfying sleep. They also note “that a weighted blanket creates effects and anxiety suppression that are considered to predict improved sleep.”
Weighted Blankets also Help Reduce Pain
Researchers have found that weighted blankets can help those with numerous other health concerns, from pain to cancer. For example, studies show that weighted blankets can:
- Ease anxiety in people receiving intravenous chemotherapy: A study at Indiana University on new patients at an outpatient infusion center shows that these blankets help to calm people who are under extreme stress when being treated for cancer.7
- Reduce chronic pain: According to tests at the University of California at San Diego, weighted blankets “can reduce the severity of chronic pain, offering an accessible, home-based tool for chronic pain.” The researchers recommend it as “home-based, non-drug therapy for chronic pain relief.”8
- Calm people with ADHD, autism: A number of studies suggest that weighted blankets are helpful in calming people with ADHD and autism and promoting a better rest.
If you have difficulties sleeping at night or experience anxiety, aches or pains that keep you awake, then a weighted blanket is worth a try. Weighted blankets are available in weights ranging from seven to 25 pounds and in sizes to fit all standard beds. For best results try a blanket weighted to about ten percent of your body weight. They’re readily available online, cost between $50 and $300 and could make a big difference in your quality of life.