Sleep Loss is a Nightmare
There's a reason sleep deprivation has been used as a torture strategy throughout history. Even a minor, but regular, lack of sleep can make it hard for you to think beyond just surviving the day. Your motivation to train and eat right is going to plummet when you're exhausted.
In addition, research suggests that your natural levels of testosterone will take a dive and you'll end up eating a few hundred extra calories a day when you rack up a sleep debt. So not only do you crave more crap, you're less inclined to burn it up in the gym.
But sleep is a tricky bastard, because the more you think about how valuable it is, the more anxious you get about being awake. And in turn, the more anxious you get, the harder it is to sleep. So if you can't relax, then you'll only get frustrated and miss out on more.
Luckily science has some solutions. The latest one is the weighted blanket.
Weighted Blankets and Sleep Gains, Bro
Weighted blankets are what experts call, "deep pressure touch stimulation" or DPTS. They were first used to help kids with autism, anxiety, and other sensory disorders. Then the general idea caught on among dog owners who bought weighted vests to calm their pups during thunderstorms. And now the trend is spreading among adults who just want to shut down their noisy brains at night.
No, you won't get jacked right away by sleeping under a weighted blanket. But if it helps you sleep better, then it may eventually result in consistent workouts, improved performance, and dietary compliance.
The blankets aren't crazy-heavy either. Weighted-blanket manufacturers tell you to just choose one that's 10% of your body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you'd use a 15-pound blanket. They don't cover the entire bed – just you – so if your spouse doesn't want the extra weight, he or she doesn't have to get under it.
The Science of "Good Night, Sleep Tight"
Turns out, the old saying is still applicable to grownups. The pressure of a weighted blanket provides the same type of comfort a baby gets when being swaddled. And it might even be an effective replacement for prescription sleep meds. According to the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders, the weighted blanket may be "a non-pharmacological tool to fight insomnia."
Swedish researchers studied 33 healthy participants who struggled with insomnia and found that "the participants liked sleeping with the blanket, found it easier to settle down, and had improved sleep where they felt more refreshed in the morning."
You can find quite a few articles about weighted blankets online, and some of the claims they make seem a little "out there," though they may be worth looking into as more research is done. Some authors have indicated that a weighted blanket will put pressure on certain points of the body, causing the brain to release serotonin, which may result in relief of the ailments related to low serotonin, like OCD, PTSD, depression, and more.
My Weighted Blanket Experience
I hate wind. It keeps me awake because when it's strong enough it can damage your roof, and then the rain that comes after the wind can totally destroy the inside of your house. So to me, the sound of wind at night is the sound of time and money flying out the window, extra stress flying in, and your house getting destroyed.
But a weighted blanket helps me settle down even when there's wind, and I've had better sleep since using it. I won't say that I've had nothing but perfect nights since getting it, but I can confirm that there is extra comfort there. The only downside is that the weighted blanket can get hot, so usually I start the night with it, then kick it off later.
I can't recommend any specific brand because I've only tried one, and as far as I can tell, they seem to be about the same. So choose whatever your pocketbook agrees with, and make sure to get an appropriate weight.
- Ackerley R, Badre G, Olausson H (2015) Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders 2(3): 1022.