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I’ve never been able to fall asleep moments after hitting the sack ― still, shut-eye usually came relatively easy to me. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself on the losing side of a battle with the sandman more often than not these days.
Blame it on anxiety about the world right now, getting older or having a demanding job, but lately I’ve had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. I’m not alone, either. As many as 35% of adults complain of insomnia, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Most “sleep hygiene” tips for better rest ― like removing phones and devices from the bedroom, going to bed at the same time every night and avoiding large meals before bedtime ― didn’t work for me long-term.
So I decided to look into weighted blankets.
I started hearing about weighted blankets and everything they’re good for about three years ago. They seemed appealing — if not for their supposed ability to ease nighttime anxiety, then simply for their novelty.
Weighted blankets are almost exactly what they sound like: blankets that have been weighed down with glass or plastic beads, or other small objects like pellets or discs. These weights are sewn into the lining of the blanket, often in pockets, to evenly distribute the blanket’s pressure across your body as you sleep.
Weighted blankets went mainstream in 2018, but they’ve been around for years. Occupational therapists have long suggested them for children with autism spectrum disorder because weighted blankets can offer deep pressure stimulation, a form of therapy that can relax the nervous system through firm hugs, squeezes or holding. If done properly, it can create a feeling of calm and peace.
For that reason, weighted blankets have become increasingly interesting to insomniacs in search of anything that might help them snooze. One study found that 63% of its 32 participants reported lower anxiety after using a 30-pound weighted blanket, while 78% said they preferred the weighted blanket as a calming tool.
Most weighted blankets for adults weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. It’s recommended you get one that weighs about 10% of your body weight.
I now own Brooklyn Bedding’s Dual Therapy Weighted Blanket. At $139, it’s one of the more affordable models on the market (most top-name brands are about $200) for its quality. There are inexpensive versions on Amazon, some as low as $40, but for some purchases — especially wellness ones — it pays to consider quality over price.
The 15-pound Brooklyn Bedding weighted blanket I use comes with a dual-sided duvet that, admittedly, is not the most attractive, but is extremely practical. One side is a cooling, satin-like material, while the other is a plush, warming fabric. It can be easily removed and tossed in the wash when needed. As a cat owner and allergy sufferer, I need bedding that’s easily washable.
Brooklyn Bedding’s 15- and 20-pound weighted blankets come in a universal Queen size. I keep mine folded at the foot of my bed during the day, then pull it up to use at night only when I need it. Because my partner is a hot sleeper and has no trouble falling asleep at night, I found this to be a more practical than making the blanket into the bed for both of us to sleep under.
I’ve used this weighted blanket for nearly a year now and can confidently say it’s done two things for me. For one thing, I feel less anxious at night when I tuck myself under its heft. And secondly, I’m less likely to wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time falling back asleep.
Of course, there are the occasional nights when I still fend off sleep for no good reason, but they are fewer and farther between than they used to be. For me, that’s what matters.
Whatever helps you sleep at night, after all.