Insomnia is defined as the feeling of having slept poorly due to difficulty falling asleep, one or more nocturnal awakenings and / or too early awakening in the morning. Its treatment passes above all by the observance of some rules of hygiene of life and in case of failure, the doctor can advise herbal medicine or prescribe an adapted medication. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm were interested in the effects of a method that is increasingly mentioned in the media: the weighted or weighted blanket. As the name suggests, this is not an ordinary blanket but a blanket whose weight puts pressure on the entire body.
Made according to the weight and size of a person, its use would allow to bring an effect relaxing in the joints, muscles and tendons: a “cocoon” effect which promotes stress reduction. According to this study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, weighted blankets represent an effective intervention in the insomnia treatment. Its results indicate that participants who benefited from it for four weeks reported a significant reduction.the severity of their insomnia, a better sleep, a higher level of daytime (daytime) activity and a reduction in symptoms of fatigue, depression and anxiety.
The sense of touch is stimulated
Indeed, participants in the “weighted coverage” group were almost 26 times more likely to experience a reduction of half or more of the severity of their insomnia compared to the control group. They were also nearly 20 times more likely to achieve remission of their insomnia, with positive results maintained during a one-year follow-up phase. “A suggested explanation for the calming and sleep-promoting effect is the pressure that the weighted blanket applies to different points of the body, stimulating the feeling of touching and sense of muscles and joints, like acupressure and massage, ”says Dr. Mats Alder who conducted the study.
He adds: “There is evidence to suggest that the deep pressure stimulation increases parasympathetic excitement of the autonomic nervous system and at the same time reduces sympathetic excitement, which is considered to be the cause of the calming effect. The study involved 120 adults (68% women, 32% men) who had already received a clinical diagnosis of insomnia and a concurrent psychiatric disorder: depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Participants were divided into two groups to sleep for four weeks with a weighted blanket or a so-called “control” blanket.
Noticeable remission after a few weeks of use
Those in the first group tried an 8 kilogram blanket but ten participants found it to be too heavy and therefore received a 6 kilogram blanket. The participants in the control group slept with a weighted blanket of 1.5 kilograms. The change in the severity of their insomnia, the primary outcome measure, was assessed using an official score while a measurement tool incorporated into a watch called actigraphy was used to estimate their sleep levels and daytime activity. The results showed that the impact was positive for almost 60% of users, with a decrease of 50% or more in their insomnia score.
In addition, remission was 42.2% in the “weighted coverage” group, compared to 3.6% in the control group. After the initial four-week study, all participants, regardless of group, were given the option to use weighted blanket for a 12-month follow-up phase. The researchers came up with four different blankets: two blankets weighted with metal weights (6 kg and 8 kg) and two blankets weighted with balls (6.5 kg and 7 kg). After the initial test, participants were freely allowed to choose the blanket they preferred, with most choosing heavier blanket.
It turns out that participants who switched from the control blanket to a weighted blanket experienced a similar effect to patients who used the weighted blanket initially. After 12 months, 92% of weighted blanket users reported improvement of their insomnia and 78% were in remission. “I was surprised by the scale of theeffect of weighted blanket on insomnia and satisfied with the reduction in anxiety and depression levels, ”says Dr. Mats Alder. For researchers, these findings should prompt healthcare providers to further study the impact of bedding and touch. on the quality of sleep, and in particular the effect of weighted blankets