Weighted blankets are touted as an unusual treatment for insomnia, stress, anxiety and more conditions. Nine journalist Sarah Swain puts one to the test.
Since I started working shifts last year, I’ve struggled to sleep for the first time in years.
Working pretty much any time across 24 hours can play havoc with your body clock.
I also suffer with a bit of anxiety too.
So, when I started seeing articles and adverts for a kind of new blanket that could help you sleep, and claimed to help treat for mental health illnesses like anxiety, I was curious.
I was also confused about how a blanket could possibly help either of these issues.
I looked online, and indeed, people were raving about these ultra-heavy blankets, with some even dubbing them life-changing.
There are a few places selling them in Australia, and Neptune Blankets is one.
However, turns out there’s nothing new about weighted blankets.
They’ve been used for kids with autism and sensory issues for decades, according to director David Koh, who confirmed that these days they are also used to help people with anxiety, stress and sleep problems.
ADHD is also said to be eased by the blankets, which are filled with little weighted pellets — think a heavier version of the beans in bean bags — and a small number of studies seem to suggest they’re not just some wellness fad.
So how exactly can a simple blanket do this?
“The blankets apply deep touch pressure stimulation to the users’ body which can help the brain produce serotonin and melatonin,” Koh told me. “These chemicals regulate our mood. Using the blanket can give the us that 'hugged' feeling so we can feel calm and secure.”
After a bit of a row with my mum as we heaped the cumbersome blanket into the cotton ‘summer cover’ it comes with — swear words were used — I climbed into bed underneath.
And it was like lying under some kind of chain mail.
It was no surprise to find one of the reasons they help you sleep is because you can’t actually move much.
I’ll confess, I felt a little bit stifled at first, and was worried in case I woke up in the night thinking I was being buried alive or something.
However, I didn’t wake up at all during the night — or not that I remember, anyway.
I’ve been using the blanket most nights now for around a month, and it’s rare if I wake up before I’m supposed to.
Sometimes I even am roused by my alarm, which hasn’t happened for months.
The only thing I didn’t like about the blanket — which is supposed to weigh 10 percent of your own bodyweight — is that laying under a blanket of any kind on a summer night is kind of sweaty.
I found I can only use it at this time of year with my AC on all night.
Meanwhile, if you want to try something similar but cheaper, Neptune Blankets also sells weighted eye masks.
They cost $79, currently discounted to $39 while the blankets start at $239.