Everything to Know About Using a Weighted Blanket for Insomnia

How many nights do you lie awake staring at the ceiling and wishing you could will your body to go to sleep? Are you reading this at three or four a.m. in a dark house, desperate for rest? If so, we have good news for you: a weighted blanket could be the answer you’ve searched for.

Weighted blankets can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer every night. Read on to learn more about using a weighted blanket for insomnia and the other benefits they can bring to your life.

What Is a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket is a variety of cover that’s been filled with glass or plastic pellets to give it extra weight. These can come in a variety of colors, patterns, sizes, and weights. You can get them in hypoallergenic materials or in warmer or cooler varieties.

Weighted blankets can have benefits for a wide range of conditions, from chronic pain to anxiety. They can be helpful for people with autism, sensory processing disorders, and depression. But most importantly for you, they can help with insomnia and a variety of sleep-related disorders.

How They Work

Weighted blankets work by simulating deep touch pressure. This is the sort of widespread, steady, gentle pressure we feel when someone hugs or holds us. This is a social action, and it lights up the reward centers in our brain. 

When we get a hug or lie under a weighted blanket, our brain releases a flood of serotonin and dopamine. These hormones are associated with pleasure, relaxation, and happiness. So you might not be surprised to learn that these hormones can also help you to get to sleep easier.

Benefits for Insomnia

Serotonin and dopamine both make it easier for us to fall asleep. And for that reason alone, a weighted blanket could be helpful for insomnia. But insomnia may oftentimes be tied to racing thoughts or even to anxiety.

Not only do serotonin and dopamine help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, they can help to still racing thoughts. That steady, constant pressure helps to provide another source of input to the brain. This can override those racing thoughts, giving your brain a sort of focus point so you can calm down and get to sleep. 

What the Research Says

Unfortunately, there hasn’t yet been much research on using weighted blankets for insomnia. There have been a few small studies that have suggested that a weighted blanket can improve insomnia symptoms. And one of the major challenges with these studies is how to control for the placebo effect.

The placebo effect happens when we believe that, simply because we are receiving treatment for something, our symptoms improve. In medicine trials, doctors give certain patients sugar pills, and the patients can’t tell whether they’re getting the real medicine or not. But it’s hard to give someone a fake weighted blanket without them noticing that it’s not, in fact, weighted.

Research is ongoing, and we can hope to see more studies coming in the next several years. But the research we have now looks promising.

Partner-Related Insomnia

You may be reading this and thinking, “My insomnia isn’t my fault – it’s my partner’s.” Being in bed with a restless partner can make it hard to drift off to sleep yourself. But you may not want to resort to sleeping in a different bed. 

Weighted blankets can help to keep your partner still throughout the night. The extra weight makes it a bit harder to move around, and that little bit of discouragement can be enough to keep them still in your sleep. Not only will they feel more well-rested in the morning, you’ll sleep like a baby next to them.

How to Make the Most of Your Weighted Blanket

Of course, a weighted blanket can only be a part of your insomnia treatment routine. In order to get the most benefit from your weighted blanket, you need to make sure you’re doing everything to optimize your sleep. For the most part, this means practicing sleep hygiene.

Make sure the only two things you do in your bed are sleep and have sex. No reading a book, watching TV, or scrolling through social media. Your bed is a place for rest and intimacy, and that is all.

It’s also a good idea to set up a bedtime routine and stick to it. Going through the same motions at the same time every night will help signal your brain that it’s time to go to sleep. That way, by the time you crawl under your weighted blanket, your brain is all primed and ready to drop straight off to sleep.

When Not to Use a Weighted Blanket

There are some sleep situations where it’s not the best idea to use a weighted blanket. For instance, you should never use a blanket with a child who weighs less than fifty pounds. The weight can be too much for them and make it hard for them to move or breathe.

If your insomnia is due to sleep apnea, it’s also not a good idea to use a weighted blanket. Sleep apnea is the result of your airways being blocked or obstructed, so adding extra weight on won’t help. Talk to your doctor before you start using a weighted blanket as a treatment approach.

Other Helpful Benefits

Insomnia can often be related to other problems or conditions you have in your life. In fact, insomnia is listed as a symptom of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, autism, and a wide variety of other conditions. Luckily, weighted blankets can be helpful for more than just insomnia.

Some studies have shown that weighted blankets may help kids with ADHD to calm down and get to sleep. The same goes for people with autism, as well as those suffering from PTSD, depression, and OCD. So if any of these issues are keeping you up at night, talk to your doctor about if a weighted blanket can help. 

How to Use a Weighted Blanket Safely

When you’re shopping for a weighted blanket, you want to make sure you get one that’s the right weight for you. In general, you want your weighted blanket to be about ten percent of your body weight. Any lighter than that and you won’t get all the benefits; any heavier and you could wind up in pain.

Make sure to get a weighted blanket that’s sized to your body, not your bed. A weighted blanket that’s too big can drape off the edge of the bed and pull towards the floor. This can make it too heavy even if it’s the right weight for your size. 

When to Get One

Weighted blankets should never be used to replace medical treatment for insomnia, but they can be a good non-drug alternative. If you’ve been having trouble sleeping and nothing else has worked, trying a weighted blanket might be a good idea. Combined with good sleep hygiene and a solid sleep routine, it could be the extra help you need getting to sleep. 

You may also want to get a weighted blanket simply as a comfort measure. That flood of serotonin and dopamine makes you happier no matter whether it puts you to sleep or not. In the long-run, being more relaxed could help to make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.

What to Look For

When you’re shopping for a weighted blanket, there are a few things you should look for aside from the weight. Make sure you’re getting a blanket that has the proper warmth rating for you. If you live somewhere warmer, you can get thinner weighted blankets, or if you live in colder climes, you can find thicker, heavier options.

You also want to make sure you’re getting a good-quality blanket. Cheaper blankets may use thinner thread that breaks and allows your weighted beads to spill out into other areas of the blanket. Weighted blankets are an investment, so it’s worth spending the extra money to make sure you’re getting something you can use for years to come.

Try a Weighted Blanket for Insomnia

Weighted blankets can be amazing tools to help treat insomnia. They cause your brain to release serotonin and dopamine, and they can help alleviate symptoms from a variety of other conditions that could be keeping you awake. They can even keep your restless partner still, allowing you both to get a better night’s sleep.

If you’d like to try a weighted blanket for insomnia, check out the rest of our website at I’m Rested. We have the best weighted blankets and sleep aids at prices you’ll love. Check out our guide on how to choose a weighted blanket to get the best option for you today.