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Sleepless in Arkansas, Part 12: Weighted Blankets

When I shampooed at 5 pm instead of 8 pm last Monday, I forgot to take the Zarbee and tincture that has helped me sleep more hours.  I had taken all the other things on my list with dinner but none of them worked.  It wasn’t until Tuesday night that I did sleep again.  I’m guessing it was my new weighted blanket that helped.

Some people say their weighted  blanket feels like a hug.  I’m trying to think what it feels like after using it only for two nights.  It doesn’t feel like a hug to me, but it does feel comfortable, like sleeping under a down blanket only it’s heavier.  (By the way, if you want to get one, check the charts for how much they should weigh for your age and body weight.)

Here’s some excerpts from articles I had read about weighted blankets:

(1)  In an article titled, “Do Weighted Blankets Work” I found on Healthline (author unknown) stated that “A 2020 study included 28 participants with trouble falling and staying asleep. With the use of a weighted blanket over 6 weeks, there were self-reported improvements in sleeping through the night, sleep quality, and getting to sleep faster.”

(2)  On the same page as the article above, in “The Best Weighted Blankets According to Reviews” on Healthline, were these paragraphs:

“Laura LeMond, owner of Mosaic Weighted Blankets, believes that weighted blankets are increasingly popular because you learn to relax under the weight naturally and fall asleep more quickly. Your blanket can become a natural, comforting sleep solution.

A 2015 study found that 31 participants who slept with weighted blankets had a calmer night’s sleep, with less tossing and turning. The participants believed that using a weighted blanket provided them with a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep.”

(3)  And for my friends with sleep apnea, please read these excerpts from “Potential Benefits for Sleep Apnea” by Mike Horton:

Oxytocin Stimulation

The oxytocin hormone is also known as the “love hormone” because it is released during hugs and other acts of affection. There is a calming effect, and it is associated with a lower level of anxiety and stress. Those with higher oxytocin levels throughout the night experience fewer apneas. Getting cozy with your significant other at night may increase your oxytocin levels. If you are single or your partner’s movement at night disturbs you, you may not be able to accomplish that. With a weighted blanket, you can simulate the sensation of being hugged and stimulate oxytocin release.

Decrease Cortisol

The stress hormone cortisol puts your body into a flight-or-fight state, which is advantageous when faced with short-term danger. Cortisol levels over a long period can be harmful, however. All your muscles, including those that control your breathing, can become tense when under stress. Consequently, apneas could increase. Using a weighted blanket may reduce your cortisol levels and reduce your apneas.

Serotonin Production Increases

Sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety can result from inadequate serotonin levels. Researchers have discovered that deep pressure from weighted blankets promotes relaxation during the daytime, and nighttime, thereby increasing serotonin levels.

Aids in Breathing

An overactive nervous system’s effects are anxiety, hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. These factors can prevent you from sleeping. Weighted blankets activate the relaxing parasympathetic nervous system by distributing an even amount of weight and pressure throughout the body.

They Make You Sleepy

Many sleep apnea sufferers wake up multiple times during the night. Weighted blankets provide deep pressure stimulation to help you stay asleep and improve your sleep quality. A weighted blanket reduces the stress hormone (cortisol) and increases melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. As a consequence, sleep may be more restful.

Improve Your Sleep Position

It is best for people with sleep apnea to sleep on their sides because this allows them to breathe freely. If you want to learn how to side sleep, a weighted blanket may make it easier. Because weighted blankets add pressure to your body, they make you less likely to roll onto your back while sleeping.

Weighted blankets can serve many purposes in helping people with sleep apnea improve the quality of their sleep. A study shows, weighted blankets have been demonstrated to be highly effective in tackling sleeping disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can weighted blankets treat sleep apnea?

Researchers have shown that weighted blankets can boost oxytocin production. The hormone oxytocin causes you to feel calm and attached, much like when you receive a hug from a loved one. When the brain releases more oxytocin during the latter stages of sleep, oxytocin plays a pivotal role in the sleep-wake cycle. Some studies suggest that increasing oxytocin levels can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. As a result, your body and mind will have fewer interruptions during the night, which means fewer interruptions during the day.

Are weighted blankets safe for sleep apnea patients?

The decision is yours. Normally, weighted blankets are not recommended for Sleep Apnea patients. Weighted blankets can improve sleep quality for people with sleep apnea, but they should first check with their doctor before using them. However, if the person who uses the blanket has enough strength and physical agility to lift it off themselves, a weighted blanket is generally considered safe. This way, one can lift the blanket when needed to prevent suffocation or entrapment. Experts recommend avoiding weighted blankets if you’re unable to lift them, as the heavyweight may restrict airflow.

Sources:

(1) and (2): https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/do-weighted-blankets-work

(3)  https://weightedliving.com/can-you-use-a-weighted-blanket-with-sleep-apnea

I found other articles but they just repeated what I learned from these. Sleep well!

Till next time,

Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi

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