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Do Weighted Blankets Work? An Insomniac Investigates

I'll take you to my journey (so far) with a weighted blanket.
Do Weighted Blankets Work? An Insomniac Investigates
IMAGE unsplash, instagram/blankethugsph
I'll take you to my journey (so far) with a weighted blanket.

I have a tough relationship with sleep and rest. It started way back in college when my regular sleep cycle was disrupted and it was just downhill from this point in my life. My days were long but my nights were longer and more exhausting. I would get off from work around 9 p.m., wind down and do my skincare, and settle into bed. But for some reason, sleep eludes me. I am wide awake until around 5 a.m. before I actually do get a wink of sleep. On some days that I am lucky, I would be snoozing by midnight, but even then, the quality of sleep isn't as good—I'd be semi-conscious in my slumber or wake up multiple times in the wee hours.

And in our extraordinary circumstances now, my stress and sleeplessness are amplified. You can just imagine my frustration—is it too much to ask for a complete eight hours of peaceful and uninterrupted sleep? As it turns out, it actually is. LOL. With many unsettling thoughts keeping me up daily, sleep is a coveted treasure that I cannot achieve. I have tried all measures possible, too. Gadgets off my hands by 10 p.m., essential oils are poured into my humidifier, scented candles are burning, eye mask on, and so on. But as 2 a.m. rolls in, I am still awake.

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Perhaps, my Instagram knows me and my struggle because the ads that were popping up were about this magic weighted blanket that's supposed to help my anxiety and sleepless nights. See, I've heard so much about these 15-pound cozy comforter that feels like a hug. And so, I gave in and tried it out for myself. Below, I'll take you to my four-day journey (so far) with a weighted blanket from local store Blanket Hugs.

The Claim: Weighted Blankets eases insomnia and improves sleep quality.

According to Blanket Hugs, a weighted blanket works through "Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation that releases serotonin (a.k.a the happy neurotransmitter) and produces melatonin (our sleepy hormone). It also eases insomnia and improves sleep quality, as well as relieves anxiety and stress without the use of drugs."

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Day 1

I got into bed exactly at midnight. Being today the first time I'll ever try it, I created the best possible environment—of course, I wanted to succeed in this endeavor. So, I took a hot shower, put on fresh pajamas, kept my gadgets away, and nestled into bed.

Boy, they weren't kidding when they said it's a weighted blanket. It was a struggle to find a comfortable position. Each movement felt like a workout but eventually, I found a position that suits me. First impressions were along the lines of "Will I struggle to get myself into (and out of) bed every day because of this?" and "I'm counting this as a workout."

But the deep pressure I felt underneath the weighted blanket was somewhat calming. This phenomenon, as I researched later on, is actually a supported claim. According to Pubmed, deep pressure touch can positively and physically calm your aroused state. 

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Within minutes, I snuggled in my cocoon and drifted off. I woke up around 7 a.m. and could not believe it. I made it through the night without waking up—yes, like a normal person! I was still skeptical so we can count tonight as beginner's luck.

Day 2

I tried to replicate my experience with the blanket from Day 1. I even went to bed earlier. By 11 p.m., I was already tucked in. Sleep was not easy to come by. It did not help that I spent a huge chunk of my time in bed watching Netflix and deep into YouTube's rabbit hole. Suffice to say, me sleeping at around 3 a.m. was my fault. But I guess, the blanket truly works because I have forgotten how I dozed off. And it's a miracle that I woke up on my own, especially when I forgot to set my alarms the night before. Oops.

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Day 3

If Day 1 was built on my perfect night routine, today was probably the worst. I got off work around midnight—don't ask, it was a really long, exhausting day. With shower and skincare done and out of the day, I plopped down on my bed, craving some rest. But sleep would not find me. My mind is still racing with the day's worries and long list of to-dos for tomorrow. But, I still tried and went under my cocoon.

I counted sheep for what felt like years, but eventually, I finally slept. The next morning, I found myself entangled with the heavy weighted blanket and comforter. Apparently, I tossed and turned the entire night. My sleeping self mirrored my troubled mind. Nonetheless, I woke up feeling rested. How is that even possible? My worries felt fleeting and insignificant unlike the night before when I thought they wouldn't ever go away.

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Day 4

This work week is unbelievably a trying one. Schedule-wise, my hours were full to the brim and I had barely time for myself. I timed out of work at half past 9 p.m. feeling worn out. A normal person would probably be wiped out from a hard day, but not me. I was still wide awake around midnight, despite being under the magic blanket. I did my best to silence my racing mind with meditation. With Headspace guiding me and the blanket cuddling me, I started to wind down. Admittedly it was hard to move under the heavy blanket—at least consciously, since just last night I found the blanket pooling in one side of the bed. But it is in this controlled environment that my body didn't feel the need to toss and turn out of sleepless frustration.

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Enveloped and warmly cuddled, the blanket helped me calm down and focus on the only activity that matters: Falling asleep. Like the nights before, I don't know how I fell asleep. I still did wake up in the wee hours but, instead of failing at falling back into slumber, I was cradled back into a deep snooze session. I woke up before my alarm clock rang and felt refreshed. 

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Conclusion

Four days into using Blanket Hugs' weighted blanket, I have experienced deep sleep for the first time in years. My restlessness in bed, trying to find sleep, was cut down significantly. Instead, I await with eagerness for slumber to wash over my still body, cradled underneath the comforting weighted blanket.

If I'm completely being honest, I didn't feel the need to reach for my caffeine fix during this week. While coffee felt like a vital lifeline for me before all of this, the past couple of days made me feel like it was not needed at all.

In sum, the weighted blanket does not cure insomnia or resolve your anxiety issues. But it does help in getting you to wind down into a calm state, letting you achieve deep sleep, and it does soothe your worries away. Nonetheless, I would fully incorporate this weighted blanket into my sleep routine. It truly helped me feel more rested during the night, especially in conjunction with my other beauty sleep efforts.

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Buying a weighted blanket for yourself

A good night's sleep does not come cheap, I tell you. But it is a good investment. Restful nights and refreshing days will all be worth it. If you're ready to invest in a good night's sleep or at least a tranquil forty winks in the afternoon, be prepared to shell out thousands.

When choosing one for yourself, there are two things that you should take note of. One would be the weight and size. Manufacturers recommend that you choose a weighted blanket that weight around 10% of your body weight. It is also best that you determine the size with respect to your body, instead of your bed. Adults can also add one to two more pounds for extra pressure. If you're sharing the blanket with your partner, it's best to go for a bigger blanket.

Two, mind the quality. Blanket Hugs' weighted blankets (exactly the one I'm currently using) are made of micro glass beads instead of plastic pellets. These glass beads are hypoallergenic, odorless, non-toxic, and more quiet. They also use bamboo cotton which is naturally anti-microbial, breathable, and thermal regulating.

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Blanket Hugs' adult-size 15-pound blanket (49 x 72 inches) costs P5999, which is also their starting price for adult weighted blankets.