The internet is full of myths about sleep. In the section Fact or fable about sleeping? we dive on top of those myths to clarify. With today: ‘A weighted blanket helps with sleeping problems.’
A weighted blanket is exactly what the name suggests: a weighted blanket to sleep under. This blanket often weighs between 4 and 10 kilos, and is indicated on social media, among other things, as the way to fall asleep. In addition, you would reduce stress and even sleep deeper than under a regular blanket. Subway talked about these blankets with Stephanie Molenaar, sleep expert and author of eleven different books on sleep.
Sleep better with a weighted blanket?
Molenaar: “Everyone knows the effect of sleeping well when you are under a thick and fluffy duvet, or when you have someone lying next to you. That already tells you that that weighting does something with relaxing, feeling safe and being happy. Those feelings come from, among other things, serotonin, which also happens to be the precursor of the sleep hormone.”
That sounds ideal, but according to Molenaar there are certainly caveats to list. Such a weighted blanket becomes a sleep association. “That is a link you make with sleep, so that your body knows that sleep is coming and that you can actually sleep. For example, babies can have that with a pacifier. The only problem with this is that after a while you can no longer do without it, while you can’t easily take that blanket with you on holiday.”
One of the effects of a weighted blanket is relaxation. Less stress hormones are produced, which calms the stress response and gives the sleep hormone a chance. But sleeping under a weighted blanket is not the only way to achieve this effect, says Molenaar. “You also relax by simply applying good sleep hygiene, such as a nice evening ritual and a good sleeping environment.”
According to Molenaar, the latter has been proven effective, a weighted blanket is not. According to her, there is still too little scientific evidence to confirm this effect. Whether that scientific proof will ever come remains to be seen. “It is difficult to study, because there is no placebo to give. You notice it when there is no weighting.”
In addition, Molenaar would like to emphasize that these products are a kind of symptomatic remedy. “There’s a reason sleep doesn’t come naturally. This is often in your head or in your lifestyle. It is then healthier, cheaper and better to work on the cause, and not to stick plasters all the time.”
According to Molenaar, it is better to choose one of the proven treatments. These cost less and are less ‘addictive’. “However, if you’ve already tried all that and the only option is sleeping medication, then you can of course try a weighted blanket first. Pay close attention to which blanket you buy. A weighted blanket is only effective if the weight is approximately 10 percent of your body weight. Too heavy or too light does not help.”
Does a weighted blanket help with sleeping problems? Judgment: partly true.
A weighted blanket can help you fall asleep better, although this has not been scientifically proven. However, the blanket is only a symptom fighter. You don’t solve sleeping problems with it. To really sleep better, it is wiser to look for the cause.
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