I recently started sleeping with a weighted blanket after an ongoing struggle with falling and staying asleep. Weighted blankets have been on my radar for awhile, but I had never investigated far enough to fully understand how they could help me. Through my research, I discovered a wide range of people who swore by them, including people suffering from similar sleep troubles. Since starting to use one of these blankets I have experienced a dramatic improvement in my sleep quality.
Here’s how it works. The weighted blanket drapes and contours your body as you sleep. It is designed to simulate the feeling of a gentle embrace, which has a calming effect on the nervous system and helps you reach state of deeper relaxation...all great ingredients to getting a restful night's sleep. Many believe this cocooning sensation can be described as similar to the secure feeling of being in the womb as a baby, and of our early years of being held in close contact with our parents. To figure out the right weight, the blanket is calculated at approximately 10% of your body weight.
The importance of touch
Touch is more important than most people might realize, especially for babies and young children. It is the first sense available to us after being born, even before we can open our eyes. Doctors have long understood that young children need gentle touch to support development (emotional, cognitive, and physical) and to encourage deeper connections with their parents. Skin to skin contact allows a child to feel protected. This comforting sensation of being hugged is familiar to young children, reminding them of their closeness to Mom while they were in the womb.
Throughout history, our ancestors emphasized how important touch was, and made a point to keep babies in contact with another person at all times. In our current days, babies can often spend a lot of time away from their parent’s physical contact, in cribs, car seats, strollers, or at day care. Touch deprivation in our early years may have a variety of effects as we age. A child that is lacking enough physical contact by a loving adult, may experience delays in development, moodiness and face greater challenges forming secure attachments with others in their life. Touch is a key part of supporting a child’s emotional growth and nurturing positive relationships between friends, family and peers. This is why many families are coming back to attachment parenting and finding more ways to incorporate touch.
Although we often focus on our other senses, touch does not become any less important as we age. We need it to continue developing throughout our whole life. Consensual physical contact helps us keep trust and security in our sights, and nurtures our continued emotional health. This allows us to maintain strong, trusting connections with the people around us.
Touch is also important for relaxing our mind and body. Therapies such as reflexology, massage, craniosacral, and healing touch are widely used to de-stress and calm the nervous system. A weighted blanket can be utilized every night as its own form of touch therapy.
The benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket:
- Provides deep pressure stimulation, an encompassing gentle pressure on the body, promoting calmness.
- Cues the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of wellbeing and happiness
- Helps increase melatonin production, the hormone that regulates sleep
- Induces a feeling of security while decreasing anxiety
- Nurtures ultimate relaxation and a peaceful state of mind
- Creates a gentle cocooning feeling
- More weighted blanket benefits
I am personally finding the most noticeable effects of sleeping with a weighted blanket are:
- The weight has a grounding effect that eases me into deep relaxation.
- I fall asleep easily and quickly
- I am not waking up as much during the night
- I am less restless while I sleep
- I wake up feeling more refreshed
I have always believed that once babies stop sleeping with their parents, they cuddle stuffed animals to recreate that feeling. Once they grow out of their stuffed animals they often form a deep attachment with their head pillow. The weighted blanket can become another beloved source of comfort as we become adults*.
I am someone who grew up with attachment parenting, and I feel a similar sense of comfort and familiarity being surrounded by my weighted blanket. I would highly recommend trying one of these therapeutic blankets, if you are struggling with sleep issues such as mine.
*Consult your doctor before purchasing a weighted blanket for a child that weighs less than 50 lbs, or if you suffer from: chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and obstructive sleep apnea; claustrophobia; or diabetes or other circulatory conditions.