Do weighted blankets help with insomnia? A new study suggests they do.
Weighted blankets have been found to be a safe and effective intervention in the treatment of insomnia.
More specifically, these Swedish researchers found that insomnia sufferers experienced reduced insomnia severity, better sleep, and less daytime sleepinesswhen they slept with a weight chain.
The study appeared on September 15 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Four weeks of wearing an “insomnia blanket” reduced insomnia by 50%.
Results from the randomized controlled trial show that the Participants who took the weighted blanket for four weeks reported significantly reduced insomnia severity.
They also had better sleep maintenance and higher daytime activity levels.
In addition, they experienced fewer symptoms of fatigue, depression and anxiety.
Participants in the weighted blanket group were almost 26 times more likely to see their insomnia decrease by 50% or more compared to the control group.
They were also nearly 20 times more likely to achieve improvement in their insomnia.
These positive results persisted through a 12-month follow-up period of the study.
“One proposed explanation for the sedative and sleep-promoting effect is the pressure exerted by the chain blanket at various points applied to the body and stimulates the tactile and sense of muscles and joints, similar to acupressure and massage,” said study leader Mats Alder, consultant psychiatrist in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Sweden.
“There is evidence that deep pressure stimulation increases parasympathetic arousal of the autonomic nervous system while simultaneously reducing sympathetic arousal, which is thought to account for the calming effect,” said Alder.
It’s all about weight
The study enrolled 120 adults (68% female, 32% male) with a prior diagnosis of clinical insomnia and a co-occurring psychiatric disorder: major depressive disorder , bipolar disorder , attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
They had an average age of about 40 years.
Researchers randomly assigned participants to sleep on either a chain-weighted blanket or a regular blanket for four weeks.
Participants assigned to the weighted blanket group tried an 8 kg chain blanket at the clinic.
Ten participants found them too heavy and were given a 6 kg blanket instead.
Participants in the control group slept with a light plastic chain blanket weighing 1.5 kilograms (about 3.3 pounds).
Researchers assessed changes in insomnia severity using the Insomnia Severity Index.
They used wrist actigraphy to assess sleep and daytime activity levels.
Nearly 60% of weighted blanket users responded positively with a decrease in their ISI score of 50% or more four weeks.
This compared to just 5.4% in the control group. Remission, a score of seven or less on the ISI scale, was 42.2% in the weighted blanket group. In the control group, it was only 3.6%.
Most chose the heaviest weighted blanket
After the initial four-week study, all participants had the option of using the weighted blanket a 12 -month follow-up period.
They tested four different weighted blankets. Two of these were chain decks (of 6 or 8 kilograms) and two were ball decks (6.5 or 7 kilograms).
After the test, they were free to choose their favorite duvet, with most choosing a thicker duvet.
Only one participant discontinued the study due to feelings of anxiety when using the blanket.
At 12 months, 92% of weighted blanket users responded to treatment and 78% were in remission.
In Summary: Do Weighted Blankets Help With Insomnia? Yes.
“I was surprised by the great effect the weighted blanket had on insomnia and was pleased with the reduction in both anxiety and depression,” said Adler.
In a nutshell related comment, also published in the September issue of the JCSM, writes Dr. William McCall said the study results support the psychoanalytic theory of the “holding environment,” which states that touch is a basic need that provides reassurance and comfort.
McCall urges providers to consider the impact of sleeping surfaces and bedding on sleep quality, while calling for additional research into the effects of weighted blankets.
Study: “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Weighted Chain Blankets for Insomnia in Psychiatric Disorders”Authors: Bodil Ekholm, Stefan Spulber and Mats Adler Published in:Journal of Clinical Sleep MedicinePublication date:15. September 2020DOI: https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.8636 Photo: by Claudio_Scott from Pixabay