When I passed by a display of weighted blankets on sale in CVS back in January, I assumed they were part of a fad that was on its way out. Then the pandemic hit, leaving us more in need of self-soothing, sleep-inducing remedies than before. I wish now that I could go back and tell my January self to stock up!
While many of us have more time to sleep than ever, thanks to the quarantine, it’s not necessarily good quality sleep. Many people I know are experiencing sleep issues, including insomnia, repeated nighttime awakenings, vivid dreams, and a sleep schedule that’s too irregular to be called a “schedule” any more. The reasons for this are numerous and obvious: anxiety, economic troubles, concern for the health of our loved ones, fear of the unknown, and the semblance of normalcy thrown by the wayside will definitely do a number on sleep. This makes it more important than ever to be practicing good “sleep hygiene,” which includes all of the ways in which you can prime yourself and your environment to get quality sleep.
One of the tools you can use in this effort is a weighted blanket, which is just what it sounds like: a blanket that has had some heft added to it courtesy of fillers like poly pellets, glass beads, or weighted discs. Typically, weighted to about 15 to 20 pounds on up, a weighted blanket offers gentle pressure that has been compared to being swaddled and has the added benefit of staying in place better than typical blankets.
Why is a weighted blanket appealing or potentially helpful for sleep?
Proponents (including my own kids) say that there is something comforting about light, constant pressure that helps them to sleep. Long used with special needs populations for therapeutic purposes, weighted blankets have become much more widely available and their appeal has spread beyond the special needs community to folks who are anxious, depressed, have restless legs syndrome, or would simply like to maximize the quality of their sleep.
As availability has soared so has the variability in materials, styles, and designs; here’s a great buying guide in Forbes that may help you to choose. Commercially-produced weighted blankets can be pricey, unfortunately, and may cost more than you want to spend during this economic downturn. Luckily, there are a number of DIY tutorials like this one from The Spruce Crafts.
Is a weighted blanket just not your thing?
I have to be honest : while my kids love theirs, weighted blankets are not my thing. I immediately feel claustrophobic rather than all of the soothing, positive feelings they give many other people. Luckily, there are plenty of other therapeutic tips, tricks, and strategies to try and get good sleep, including CBT-I, helpful apps, calming music, and white noise machines.
If you have chronic sleep issues, you may want to give short-term counseling a try. Sleep can be disturbed by anxiety, fear, and depression, all of which counseling can help address. If you are interested in finding out more, please reach out to us at Nova Terra Therapy. We’re 100% online these days and are happy to help.