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According to a new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania about 25% of American adults suffer from acute insomnia each year. Of those, over 20% of the acute insomnia sufferers continue getting poor sleep long term and some of them develop chronic insomnia. The inability to achieve quality sleep negatively impacts our lives in a multitude of ways. Our emotional and physical selves cannot function properly leading to problems in our personal and professional lives. As high numbers of us battle the beast of insomnia night after night, might a weighted blanket serve as a formidable ally?
Why can't we sleep?Insomnia is described as an inability to fall or stay asleep. Some insomnia sufferers fall asleep quickly but wake every hour on the hour throughout the night. Others simply cannot fall asleep, even when utterly exhausted. For some, initial sleep comes on fairly easily but an arousal at night is impossible to overcome and they lay there unable to regain unconsciousness. With such a high prevalence of insomnia in our society, one must wonder why so many of us can't sleep.
Weighted Blankets for the Win
The most comprehensive and recent research available on using weighted blankets to help with insomnia was conducted in 2015 by Swedish researchers and published in the Journal of Sleep Medicines and Disorders. The study was conducted on 31 otherwise healthy adults that have chronic insomnia. They slept in their normal way for a period of one week which established a baseline for the severity of their insomnia. For a period of two weeks they slept under a weighted blanket followed by another one week period of sleeping in their usual way. Sleep was improved during the weeks under the weighted blanket both objectively and subjectively. Participants moved less and had less sleep disturbances and they felt more refreshed and rested upon waking when they used the weighted blanket.
Insomniac weighted blanket users may get better sleep because they feel safe, secure, and snuggled. It may be that the principal of deep pressure touch therapy is working, in that constant equally distributed pressure calms our nervous system, which helps bring about and maintain a relaxed sleep state. It may be that the anxiety that is often associated with insomnia is relieved and in that relief, sweet sleep is found. Whatever the reason, weighted blankets can help insomniacs sleep. And that is a win for any insomnia sufferer.