Sleep issues are not uncommon. More than 1 in 4 American adults say they have trouble falling or staying asleep most nights. If this sounds familiar, what can you do to fix it?
Buying a weighted blanket for sleep, changing your bedtime habits, and adjusting your diet are just a few of the lifestyle changes that might bring about more REM.
If you can’t seem to catch a single “Z”, this post is for you. Let’s dig into how you can start sleeping through the night and talk about whether weighted blankets really work for insomnia.
Common Causes of Insomnia
Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night to function at peak performance during the day. Common symptoms of insomnia include negative changes to your mood, lower energy levels, and problems with cognitive function.
At some point or another, due to stress or special circumstances (like studying for finals or having a baby), most people have periods of acute insomnia. Most acute insomnia concludes naturally when the trigger point passes. However, if your sleeplessness persists for months without an obvious cause, you may have long-term insomnia.
According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia has a few main causes. Do you recognize any of these factors?
Bad Bedtime Habits
It’s tempting to scroll through Instagram before bed. We get it. That type of mindless activity seems harmless enough and you might even swear it’s the only way you can “wind down.” But TV, computer, or phone time right before bed may actually keep you more alert than you want to be. Other bad bedtime habits include taking a nap too close to bedtime and sleeping on an uncomfortable bed.
We put babies on a sleep schedule for a reason – establishing a routine sleep pattern helps the body learn when to naturally wind down. If you work weird hours or go to bed at an inconsistent time it could contribute to insomnia.
You’re not just imagining it – when money is tight or you have an argument at work, it’s harder to fall asleep at night. Racing thoughts are not conducive to slipping into unconsciousness.
A single late dinner might not affect your sleep, but regular late snacking or meals could. It’s often uncomfortable to lay down with a full stomach. Plus, if you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, eating at a late hour could trigger these conditions just as you lay down.
Lots of Travel
Zooming between time zones can throw off your circadian rhythm (which is a fancy way to say: your internal body clock). Your circadian rhythms normally regulate your metabolism and sleep-wake cycles. But if you confuse them through frequent flying it’s hard to get back on track.
Other Sleep Disorders
As the National Sleep Foundation explains, insomnia isn’t the only sleep disorder. These other pesky causes of sleep disturbance could also serve as a reason to look into a weighted blanket for sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Apnea represents a pause in breathing that lasts at least 10 seconds. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep your airway open. If you have this sleep disorder, you probably snore in between cycles and then choke or gasp yourself awake. As you can imagine, this cycle really disrupts sleep.
Restless Leg Syndrome
About 5-10% of adults have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Women are twice as likely as men to have it, and the chances of experiencing RLS increases with your age. The neurological urge to kick your legs while you sleep may end up causing you to wake frequently and is usually accompanied by uncomfortable sensations.
This sleep disorder often shows up in childhood or teen years, and it affects about 1 in 2,000 people. Symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, nightmares, and disrupted nighttime sleep.
Non-24 Sleep–Wake Disorder
Most of us have a body clock (as we mentioned earlier, it’s called your circadian rhythm). Environmental indicators, such as the sun going down and changing into pajamas give our body cues to generate melatonin and get sleepy. With Non-24 Sleep-Wake Disorder, your body does not properly interpret these indicators and it’s harder to fall asleep.
Lifestyle Changes for Better Sleep
If you toss and turn more than a gymnast doing a floor routine, there’s still hope. Your doctor may recommend a prescribed sleep aid, but there are also lifestyle changes that can help.
Set an alarm that reminds you to turn off your computer and TV an hour before you plan to sleep. These devices can be keeping you more alert than you realize.
Your brain should get the hint to go to sleep when you’re in bed. Stop dragging your laptop to bed with you when you’re working from home – or eating lunch there. It confuses your brain’s environmental signals. Limit your light exposure when you’re trying to get sleepy, too.
Try a weighted blanket for sleep. These hefty blankets are designed to calm your sympathetic nervous system (the part of your brain that activates during fight or flight). They may also reduce general anxiety and produce a calming effect, so your body knows it’s time to doze off. Using a weighted blanket for anxiety is an increasing trend.
What’s It Like to Use a Weighted Blanket for Sleep?
Crawling under a weighted blanket for sleep is a welcome respite for many people with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Keep in mind that people who suffer from things like sleep apnea may not be great candidates for the blanket, so always ask your doctor before buying one.
If you have a green light to explore weighted blankets for insomnia and other sleep disorders, here’s what you can expect from the experience:
The Weight is Evenly Distributed
Weighted blankets have pellets or glass beads evenly distributed across the blanket. They’re strategically sewn so that you’re supported at your feet as much as you are across your chest.
It Feels Like a Hug
Using a weighted blanket for sleep is kind of like getting a warm hug from someone you love. The light pressure simulates the sensation of getting a soothing massage, being in a warm bath, or being swaddled as a baby.
Weighted Blankets Mimic Deep Touch Pressure Therapy
Occupational therapists and other doctors often use DTP (sometimes called Deep Touch Simulation) to calm their patients’ nervous systems. This technique does something called grounding, which activates your parasympathetic system and ushers in happy hormones.
Can a Weighted Blanket Really Help My Insomnia?
Changing your bedding might be comfortable, but do weighted blankets help sleep or just feel good? The research is limited, but at least one 2015 study focused on people with chronic insomnia.
Out of 31 participants, 4 out of 5 said they slept longer and had less disturbed sleep when they were under their weighted blanket vs. a regular blanket. They also felt better in the morning. And who doesn’t want that?
When you sleep under a weighted blanket, insomnia may be reduced or disappear over time. Try it in combination with other lifestyle changes, and make sure you’re as active as possible during the day to give yourself the best chance of being tuckered out when night falls.
Layla Weighted Blanket for Better Rest
It’s hard to find a better weighted blanket for sleep than the Layla Weighted Blanket. Our cozy comforter is filled with 100% glass beads that are quiet and totally washable. One side of the Layla Weighted Blanket is soft cotton and the other side is covered in minky fur.
Our weighted blankets for sleep issues are available in multiple sizes and weights, ranging from 15-25 pounds. The general recommendation for weighted blankets is that you buy one at least 10% of your body weight. Our blankets are designed to be slightly smaller than standard size mattresses, so they don’t droop over the end and get pulled down (dang gravity!) in the middle of the night.
If you still have questions about using a weighted blanket for sleep issues or insomnia, check out the Layla Weighted Blanket today give it a chance. You can keep it for 120 nights and if you don’t like it (we think you will) or you need a new size, send it back for free!