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They’ll Boost Happy Hormones
As well as providing warmth and comfort, the idea behind a weighted blanket is that thanks to its filling, it offers added weight and a grounding effect on the body that leads to heightened feelings of relaxation. “From the studies that have been done, there’s a common theme that weighted blankets may be a useful tool to help ease anxiety,” Nichola Henderson, holistic life coach and wellness expert, tells SL. “Some studies show that anxiety levels are reduced by up to 60% when using a weighted blanket.” The pressure a weighted blanket provides gently encourages your body to release serotonin, which is a calming hormone in itself, but is also a precursor for the sleep hormone, melatonin. “A weighted blanket helps you feel calm, and can also encourage sleep,” Nichola adds.
They’ve Been Used For Decades
Weighted blankets may be something you’ve only heard of recently, but they’ve actually been around for years. Originally developed for medical use by therapists and psychiatrists – largely for people with conditions such as autism, sleep and nervous disorders – weighted blankets mimic the sensation you felt when swaddled as a baby, offering a familiar kind of comfort that alleviates and redirects external stressors. It all comes down to deep pressure therapy (DTP), says Matthew King, co-founder of Mela. “DTP is a term for when pressure is applied equally across the body, and it’s proven to have a calming effect on the nervous system. It’s been shown to have powerful benefits for those with insomnia, anxiety, depression, autism, restless leg syndrome, ADHD and PTSD. It’s clever stuff.”
Going Heavy Leads To The Best Results
“As a general rule, a weighted blanket should equate to 10% of your bodyweight, meaning that a 60kg woman should choose a blanket with a 6kg weight, more or less,” says Nichola. Most blankets available come in a variety of weights, so make sure you choose the right one for you. “The main priority is that it feels comforting, not too heavy and not too light. If you can, try a few blankets in-person to see what feels good. A weighted blanket should encourage the feeling of rest and relaxation and help you feel soothed, so keep this in mind.” Take note of what a manufacturer recommends in terms of ideal weight as recommendations vary, and it also depends on whether you’re going to use your blanket with your duvet, in which case you may want something slightly lighter. They’re not meant to replace your duvet, but with many available in larger sizes to match mattress dimensions, there’s nothing stopping you using it on top of your duvet.
The Benefits Are Immediate
“To use a weighted blanket, place over the entire body when lying down or drape it over your shoulders,” says Nichola. “It can also be used while sleeping or while lying or sitting on the sofa. Because the benefits are of a sensory nature, results can be felt fairly quickly. The pressure stimulation a blanket provides has an almost immediate calming effect on the body, which is then relayed to the mind through the power of the mind-body connection. A weighted blanket may also help stimulate the vagus nerve to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which signals to the body it’s time to unwind.” Nichola recommends deep belly breathing done in tandem with the weighted blanket to boost a blanket’s soothing qualities. “The mind’s focus will then be on the sensation of the blanket and the breath, not any thoughts that had been racing beforehand.”
It's Best To Keep It Short & Sweet
If you’ve just bought a weighted blanket, Nichola recommends starting with five or ten minutes, observing the shift in your body and mind before and after use. “Make sure it feels comfortable, secure and you can move it easily if needed. If it feels good after ten minutes, you can increase this to 20 minutes and again observe how you feel after that time. You can build up to using the blanket overnight, but even 30 minutes will have powerful benefits during particularly busy and stressful times.”
Only Use It Yourself
Weighted blankets were designed for solo use for optimal weight distribution, so if you and your other half want to use one, you’ll need to get one each for the best results. Also, remember that weighted blankets shouldn’t be used by anyone that can’t move freely beneath the weight, i.e. children. Some brands, however, such as John Lewis and Mela, do offer child-specific blankets that weigh 2-4kg.
Want To Get Involved? These Are The Weighted Blankets We Rate…
Mela Luxe Cotton Knit, £220
Mela’s blankets are some of the best and this recently launched cotton version is made with a clever tight weave, which provides evenly distributed weight which moulds to your body. Machine washable and tumble-dryer safe for easy care, it’s the bedroom addition you didn’t know you needed.
Mela Chunky Knit Blanket, £260
The ultimate sofa companion, Mela’s chunky knit weighted blanket is woven by hand and is available in a 5kg or 7kg option. Use it for a nap, to fall asleep more quickly or for a moment of instant calm.
Soak & Sleep Weighted Blanket, £56.24
A great all-rounder, this industry-favourite blanket is filled with non-toxic glass microbeads for even and gentle weight distribution and is made with softly spun recycled polyester for warmth and softness. Give it a vigorous shake each morning to keep it even and plump.
Remy Sleep The Lounger, £199
The weight in this blanket comes from hand-knit chunky weaves as opposed to glass beads, making it a stylish and natural option. Available in two weight categories (6kg and 8kg) and three colours, there’s something for everyone.
Calming Blankets Silver Ion Blanket, £189
For a blanket that will stay clean and bacteria free, this clever option will fight off viruses while you sleep. Having a cleaner blanket can also be beneficial for your skin, ideal for preventing bacteria build-up if you suffer from the likes of acne and eczema. Available in three weight options.
John Lewis Weighted Blanket, £90
With a light option starting at 4kg, this John Lewis bestseller is perfect for first timers. It’s also available in a heavy 11.5kg option, which can be handy if you’re looking to share. John Lewis also offers a range of weighted blankets for children.
Baloo Weighted Comforter, £184
The only quilted weighted blanket made with an 100% cotton exterior and interior, this sustainable option is free from synthetic materials, making it a good option for hot sleepers.
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