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The blanket you’ve been weighting for

Nearly 10 per cent of Australian adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, insomnia or restless leg syndrome, costing the economy more than $5 billion every year. And this doesn’t even account for factors such as ageing, stress and obesity that keep countless Australians awake at night. If you’re struggling to get enough quality sleep, snuggling with this bed buddy may help.

Weighted blankets have risen in popularity over the past few years and are becoming a more mainstream non-pharmacological tool to help get a good night’s sleep. They are usually filled with plastic pellets, glass beads and additional layers of fabric to add weight to them.

Weighted blankets work in a similar way to touch pressure therapy, which can increase the serotonin released by your brain. The additional pressure can help to create a sense of calmness and wellbeing, making it easier to fall asleep and stay there. This can reduce tossing and turning during the night, resulting in a calmer sleep.

Read: Sleep’s vital role in mental resiliance

Health benefits
A weighted blanket is a non-pharmacological approach that can help to improve the quality of your sleep. These blankets have shown positive results for a variety of conditions including insomnia, anxiety, autism, restless leg syndrome and ADHD. They can help to alleviate stress and anxiety, have been shown in some studies to alleviate a variety of sleep disorders and can help with falling and staying asleep.

“People are beginning to understand the benefits of using a weighted blanket to set themselves up to get the recommended seven to nine hours of quality sleep on a nightly basis,” says certified sleep science coach Bill Fish.

A 2015 study concluded that participants who used a weighted blanket “believed that using the blanket provided them with a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep”. The study concluded that “a weighted blanket may aid in reducing insomnia through increased tactile and proprioceptive inputs”.

Finding the right blanket for you
Weighted blankets come in a number of different sizes, types, weights and prices. The general rule when finding the right one for you, is to purchase one that weighs 10 per cent of your body weight plus a little extra.

Read: Sleep disorder linked to Alzheimer’s

“By utilising a blanket that is roughly 10 per cent of your body weight, you feel like the blanket is hugging your body, giving you a sense of calmness, which can reduce stress, as well as help you to stay asleep so your body can go through the necessary stages of sleep to allow you to wake up fully rested,” Mr Fish told Healthline.

However, if you’re worried about feeling trapped under a weighted blanket and finding it difficult to move around, going lighter is better. Be mindful, though, that sleeping with a blanket that weighs less that 10 per cent of your body weight may not have the same health benefits.

Read: Sleep poll delivers wake-up call

Before you buy a blanket
There are a few things you should consider before running out to purchase your own weighted blanket. First, they can be dangerous for young children as they may become a choking hazard if the pellets or beads fall out of the blanket. Second, finding the right weight may be a matter of preference. Even following recommended guidelines could result in a blanket that you personally think is too heavy or light. Finally, keep in mind that weighted blankets can be expensive. The quality and type of blanket can vary greatly, and so can the price tags, some costing hundreds of dollars.

Do you get enough quality sleep? Do you own a weighted blanket, or would you consider purchasing one to help you get the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night?

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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