Study shows weighted blankets can decrease insomnia severity

September 23, 2020

DARIEN, IL - Weighted blankets are a safe and effective intervention in the treatment of insomnia, according to Swedish researchers who found that insomnia patients with psychiatric disorders experienced reduced insomnia severity, improved sleep and less daytime sleepiness when sleeping with a weighted chain blanket.

Results of the
"A suggested explanation for the calming and sleep-promoting effect is the pressure that the chain blanket applies on different points on the body, stimulating the sensation of touch and the sense of muscles and joints, similar to acupressure and massage," said principle investigator Dr. Mats Alder, consultant psychiatrist in the department of clinical neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. "There is evidence suggesting that deep pressure stimulation increases parasympathetic arousal of the autonomic nervous system and at the same time reduces sympathetic arousal, which is considered to be the cause of the calming effect."

The study is published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The study involved 120 adults (68% women, 32% men) previously diagnosed with clinical insomnia and a co-occurring psychiatric disorder: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder. They had a mean age of about 40 years.

Participants were randomized to sleep for four weeks at home with either a chain-weighted blanket or a control blanket. Participants assigned to the weighted blanket group tried an 8-kilogram (about 17.6 pounds) chain blanket at the clinic. Ten participants found it to be too heavy and received a 6-kilogram (about 13.2 pounds) blanket instead. Participants in the control group slept with a light plastic chain blanket of 1.5 kilograms (about 3.3 pounds). Change in insomnia severity, the primary outcome, was evaluated using the Insomnia Severity Index. Wrist actigraphy was used to estimate sleep and daytime activity levels.

Nearly 60% of weighted blanket users had a positive response with a decrease of 50% or more in their ISI score from the baseline to the four-week endpoint, compared with 5.4% of the control group. Remission, a score of seven or less on the ISI scale, was 42.2% in the weighted blanket group, compared with 3.6% in the control group.

After the initial four-week study, all participants had the option to use the weighted blanket for a 12-month follow-up phase. They tested four different weighted blankets: two chain blankets (6 kilograms and 8 kilograms) and two ball blankets (6.5 kilograms and 7 kilograms). After the test, and they were freely allowed to choose the blanket they preferred, with most selecting a heavier blanket. Only one participant discontinued the study due to feelings of anxiety when using the blanket. Participants who switched from the control blanket to a weighted blanket experienced a similar effect as patients who used the weighted blanket initially. After 12 months, 92% of weighted blanket users were responders, and 78% were in remission.

"I was surprised by the large effect size on insomnia by the weighted blanket and pleased by the reduction of levels of both anxiety and depression," said Adler.

In a related
JCSM, Dr. William McCall writes that the study results support the psychoanalytic "holding environment" theory, which states that touch is a basic need that provides calming and comfort. McCall urges providers to consider the impact of sleeping surfaces and bedding on sleep quality, while calling for additional research into the effect of weighted blankets.
-end-
The authors reported no conflicts of interest. The study was supported by grants provided by Region Stockholm.

To request a copy of "
media@aasm.org.

The monthly, peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine is the official publication of the
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Related Insomnia Articles from Brightsurf:

Insomnia treatment offers relief
Insomnia causing sleepless nights, daytime fatigue and poor health outcomes is a cycle worth busting, experts say, with depression, anxiety and stress a common co-occurrence.

Reduction in insomnia symptoms associated with non-invasive neurotechnology
For people with chronic insomnia, a good night's sleep is elusive.

The neurons that connect stress, insomnia, and the immune system
Researchers have pinpointed the circuit in the brain that is responsible for sleepless nights in times of stress--and it turns out that circuit does more than make you toss and turn.

Refined carbs may trigger insomnia, finds study
Women who consumed a diet high in added sugars and refined carbohydrates had a greater risk of developing insomnia, a new study by researchers at Columbia University has found.

Disturbed childhood can lead to adult insomnia
Parents should help their children with better sleep patterns, along with any problem behavioural issues, because this can lead to severe insomnia in middle age, a groundbreaking new study shows.

Study compares different strategies for treating insomnia
New research published in Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing indicates that for treating insomnia, stimulus control therapy (which reassociates the bed with sleepiness instead of arousal) and sleep restriction therapy are effective, and it is best to use them individually rather than together.

Brain cells involved in insomnia identified
An international team of researchers has identified, for the first time, the cell types, areas and biological processes in the brain that mediate the genetic risk of insomnia.

Mice sleeping fitfully provide clues to insomnia
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis -- working with mice with sleep problems similar to those experienced by people with the genetic disease neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) -- believe the animals will help shed light on insomnia linked to NF1 or other factors.

Insomnia has many faces
Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience revealed that there are five types of insomnia.

Light pollution may cause insomnia in older adults
A new study is the first population-based investigation to report a significant association between artificial, outdoor light exposure at night and insomnia, as indicated by older adults' use of hypnotic drugs.

Read More: Insomnia News and Insomnia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.