Thanks to an overactive mind and an unhealthy relationship with coffee, drifting off into a peaceful sleep isn’t something that comes easily to me.
I’m a serial insomniac that regularly spends weeknights tossing and turning into the early hours, only to spend the next day feeling completely wiped out. It’s a vicious circle that’s had me reaching for everything from pillow sprays and journals, to supplements and meditations, in search of relief.
According to statistics, I’m not alone. Aviva says that as many as 16 million UK adults are suffering from sleepless nights, with almost half of us admitting we don’t get the right amount of sleep on a regular basis.
Weighted blanket benefits
Unsurprisingly, sleep trends have massively boomed in popularity over the past few years, as more people like me search for solutions. I’d seen weighted blankets popping up on my social feeds over the last month as a remedy for restless nights – but how easy are they to use, and more importantly, do they actually work?
I tried bedding down with one for a whole week. Here’s what happened…
How do weighted blankets work?
Weighted blankets are pretty self-explanatory; heavy woven blankets that are equipped with plastic weights to add pressure to the body as you sleep. The trendy bedding items, which usually weigh 15 lbs or more, are different from down-filled duvets, because they distribute pressure evenly across the wearer.
The idea is that the blanket gives the sensation of being hugged or embraced during the night. Proponents of the trend say the product works in a similar way to a technique called ‘deep touch pressure therapy’, which is thought to help increase the release of serotonin and melatonin in the brain during moments of stress or anxiety.
Weighted blankets were originally designed to be used by occupational therapists, to help calm and comfort children with autism, but since studies found that they can also increase the average sleep time of people suffering from insomnia, they’ve become a mainstream must-have for those in a permanent sleep debt.
In fact, they even have their own celebrity fan base, with Kourtney Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow waxing lyrical about the benefits to their followers.
How does a weighted blanket feel?
The speciality bedding is designed to weigh roughly 10% of your body weight, so I opt for a 7kg double blanket from sleep brand Mela (melacomfort.co.uk). After heaving it up the stairs to my flat (it really is that heavy), I was pleased to unbox an unassuming grey blanket that could pass as an ordinary throw to the untrained eye.
The blanket has a soft velvet feel and comes with a reversible blanket cover which can easily be tossed into the washing machine with your usual bedding. Following the instructions, I evenly spread the blanket over my regular duvet, and that night, I slip under the covers and get comfy.
Before testing it out, I was worried that the blanket might feel suffocating, but it’s actually really easy to kick it off if you start to feel hot, and it doesn’t leave me feeling claustrophobic.
To my own surprise, I actually enjoy the sensation of being swaddled. Usually, I’d feel frustrated with my lack of sleep and start turning from side to side – or sit up to check the time – but the weight of the blanket consciously forces me to stay still and work on slowing down my thoughts.
It does take a bit of time to get used to at first, but the extra weight seems to have a relaxing effect on my nervous system, and the sensation is very comforting – almost like being cuddled across your entire body. I also find it adds an extra sensory element to a grounding night-time sleep meditation.
Weighted blankets – the verdict
During my week of sleeping with the weighted blanket, I find that I’m miraculously able to get to sleep more quickly and don’t wake up in the night, which is something I sometimes struggle with. Throughout the week, I feel more rested in work and less like I need to rely on caffeine.
So are there any downsides? If you have children or pets, the blankets come with a warning, and extra caution should be taken as they could be a suffocation risk.
They’re also really heavy to carry, which means you can forget about packing them into your luggage on your next holiday. If you’re someone who struggles to sleep in hotel rooms as it is, becoming reliant on a weighted blanket for sleep could make it even more difficult to sleep in new environments.
Finally, the blankets aren’t cheap. With Mela blanket prices ranging from £99-£110 (depending on weight), it’s a pricey investment. But if stress and tiredness are getting the better of you, it might just help you to find the night-time relief you’ve been looking for.