Have trouble sleeping? If your new nighttime routine, latest supplement or hot drink is not working, try cozying up with a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets are large, plush blankets that weigh as much as 30 pounds. They are filled with materials like plastic pellets, making them heavy but still portable. Sleeping under one can feel like receiving a warm hug, and the pressure it delivers has been shown to promote relaxation and deeper sleep.
Similar to a baby being swaddled, the restriction of a weighted blankets helps you move less during sleep. Other benefits can include a slowed heart rate, lowered blood pressure and reduction of anxiety.
"The feeling of an embrace can make anyone feel calm and at ease," says Dr. Matthew Edlund, a sleep specialist and psychiatrist at the Center for Circadian Medicine in Sarasota. "I've had patients feel much better with a 12-pound blanket on top of them, feeling happily enveloped."
To improve your sleep, Edlund also suggests going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, exercising regularly and including nighttime rituals like taking a hot bath, aromatherapy or listening to an audiobook or soft music. If your mind is racing, Edlund suggests writing down all your worries before sleeping, to keep anxiety at bay.
Those with disorders like autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can also benefit from weighted blankets, because the compression and feeling of touch helps slow the central nervous system. However, if you have conditions like sleep apnea or respiratory problems, weighted blankets may not be the best option.
"Sleep is more important than ever for people's mental and physical health," says Edlund. "If weighted blankets help, there is nothing wrong with that, just like other nighttime routines."
You can purchase a weighted blanket online or in stores like Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond and more.