Health

Exploring weighted blankets as a possible solution for sleeplessness

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Getting a good night’s sleep has big health benefits. But it may not be easy for many, and to help them, the bedding industry has come up with many products, from feather pillows to memory foam mattresses to help people along. Added recently to this list is the weighted blanket.

While it may look like a normal quilt, it is filled with glass beads or plastic pellets instead of light-weight feathers or the slightly heavier cotton. The weight from the blanket creates an even pressure on the body. “The blanket is soft and gives the user a snug feeling. The weight of the blanket is decided according to the weight and comfort of the user. Typically, a person weighing 60 kilograms can use a five-kilogram blanket,” says Dr MS Kanwar, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care, and Founder, Apollo Sleep Disorder Institute, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

“Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia”, a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders done on 31 people found that, “When the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep, with a decrease in movements. Subjectively, they believed that using the blanket provided them with a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure, sleep.”

Another study, “Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket” published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health done on 32 people shows a drop in anxiety for 63% of them, and 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality.

While anyone can use them, it is especially useful for those who suffer from anxiety. “I have tried it on my patients with insomnia and got mixed results. While some were comfortable and got better sleep using it, others found it inconvenient due to the restriction in movement caused due to the weight. But my patients who suffered from anxiety showed a positive response to it. Even then, it is not clear if it is the effect of the blanket, as these patients were also on medication,” says Dr Kanwar.

In India, “It is catching on, but I don’t think it will ever become a standardised treatment.” The most important thing is still sticking to a sleep routine. “Try to sleep and wake up at a particular time every day. Have a light dinner at least two hours before you sleep. Avoid electronic screens half an hour before sleep and remember to exercise for at least 45 minutes every day. A glass of warm milk can also induce sleep,” he says. In addition, if a weighted blanket helps, there’s no evidence to say you should avoid it.

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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 8:24:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/exploring-weighted-blankets-as-a-possible-solution-for-sleeplessness/article30004909.ece

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