July 5th 2021
Weighted blankets: how they became the ultimate sleep aid
January 28th 2019 / 0 comment
If stress and night time anxiety constantly disrupt your slumber, this bedding upgrade could be a game-changer
Four a.m. - I hate it. I’d love to be sound asleep then but bouts of night time anxiety usually result in me being wide awake, sweating and on the brink of tears as I fret about the shut-eye I’m missing out on.
Breathing exercises and revising my evening routine have been helpful, as well as some bedding upgrades – a memory pillow, a throw and now the latest in sleep aids – a weighted blanket, also known as a Gravity Blanket, although that's actually a trade name for one of the most popular models.
It is a fleecy-feeling cover filled with glass beads, that weighs between seven and 14 per cent of your bodyweight and recreates the feeling of being held or hugged. Sounds a bit out there, but insomniacs swear by them for helping combat everything from stress to anxiety, to relax both body and mind for a less fretful night’s sleep.
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The secret to its sleep-inducing powers lies in deep touch pressure stimulation, a type of therapy that targets specific pressure points to encourage the production of serotonin (the happy hormone) and melatonin (the sleep-inducing one) and decrease levels of cortisol (the stress one). “It’s been the most helpful piece of kit in my arsenal against insomnia,” says founder of Updog Yoga, Vittoria D’Alessio, who’d been suffering from sleep issues following the end of her marriage two and a half years ago. “I call it my anxiety blanket. It has an amazingly soothing effect on me, calming my nervous system and helping me settle straight back into sleep if I wake up in the night. I still have bad nights but, far, far fewer.”
The surge in popularity of weighted blankets might make you think they're new. They’ve actually been used medically for decades, traditionally to calm children with autism and ADHD. US company, Gravity Blanket, helped bring them to the mainstream in 2017 though, after having racked up more than $4 million for its Kickstarter campaign. It's a favourite in our Editorial Director Victoria Woodhall’s household – she bought hers for her teenage daughter after it worked wonders for her niece.
Gravity Blanket, £158.75
Demand has only continued to increase over the last couple of years, as has the number of brands bringing new varieties to the market. I've been testing Sumo Sleep over the last few days. It’s still early, but I’ve already started to notice a difference to my sleep patterns.
The sensation is like being grounded: when my mind starts to fly off at stupid o’clock, it slows me down and feels like it’s bringing me back down to earth. I’ve noticed that my heart rate doesn’t go as berzerk too.
It’s also really cosy - its outer duvet is super soft, and the glass beads inside are uniformly distributed across your body thanks to its gridded stitching (but not in a claustrophobic way). It doesn’t matter if you’re a stomach, side, starfish or back sleeper either - it’s designed to adapt to anyone’s style. It’s also machine washable and they run a 100-night sleep trial too (you can return it within that time if you're not happy) which gives you added peace of mind for its price tag.
Speaking of price, it’s definitely an investment. Sumo Sleep's comes in at £129 and Gravity Blanket’s comes in at £158.75 - models under £100 are currently few and far between.
From the glowing reviews online and the people I've spoken to who own one, plenty of people feel it's a price worth paying for a good night's sleep. I'm still in my 100-day testing phase, but so far, so dreamy.