Sleep is a basic human need, but sometimes it doesn’t come easy. I’m always tossing and turning, mentally going over the packed schedule I have for the next day and wondering how I’m going to cram it all in.
That stress has caused a lot of sleepless nights. I’m not the only one who practically needs to be hooked up to a coffee IV to make it through the day.
Today’s modern lifestyle seems to make it even harder to drift off to sleep at night. We have endless distractions -- cell phones, televisions, irregular work hours, and 24/7 news coverage.
So, much like how I tried any fad diet I could in college, I now try any sleep aid I can get my hands on. My latest experiment has been using a weighted blanket.
Common Sleeping Problems Keeping You Awake
If you’ve been struggling with sleep, you might not have pinpointed the reason for it yet. These are the likeliest culprits:
- Restless leg syndrome: With this sleep issue, you’ll have an overwhelming desire to move your legs while you’re trying to fall asleep and a pins and needles sensation. It has many causes, like pregnancy, iron deficiency, diseases, and medications.
- Insomnia: Ever stare at the clock and calculate how little sleep you’ll get before your alarm clock goes off in the morning? You might have insomnia, which means you have trouble falling or staying asleep.
- Sleep apnea: This is when you have irregular breathing while sleeping. It can cause you to gasp and wake up. The solution for this is a sleep apnea mask that makes you sound like Darth Vader with every breath you take. But sleep apnea can make it difficult to fall asleep too, especially after a worrisome breathing incident.
Medicine Vs Weighted Blanket
Notice how we have pills for almost everything these days? But that doesn’t always mean it’s the best solution. I mean, I can stop at Taco Bell every day and scarf down a value meal, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to sleep-inducing pills, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and more recent medications like Ambien and Lunesta.
You can pop pills to help you with sleeping issues, but there are a lot of pitfalls to doing so.
Here are seven reasons you might not want to rely on medicine to get some shut-eye.
- Expense: Sleeping pills are a recurring cost. You’ll have to renew that prescription often, which can get expensive.
- Side effects: We’ve all seen those medicine commercials on television that talk about how great a particular medicine is. But when it gets the part where they list the side effects, suddenly the narrator begins to talk like an auctioneer to get the whole list mentioned. All medicines come with side effects, whether they are minor or severe. Sleeping pills are no exception to that.
- Habit forming: Getting hooked on medication is a slippery slope. Everybody always thinks it is going to happen to somebody else, not them. Until it does, of course. And then it can be life-altering trying to shake that addiction.
- Grogginess: The day after taking a sleeping pill, you can feel like you’re in a fog for most of the day.
- Impairment: If you’re going to use a sleeping pill, you have to make sure you aren’t driving anywhere. That’s not always possible.
- Emergencies: It sounds like a fantasy night for most of us -- sleeping so hard we can’t wake up. But if you have a fire in your house and you stayed asleep because of a pill, it could cost you your life.
- Alcohol interactions: Most people enjoy having the occasional drink, and sometimes far more than that. But knocking back a cocktail while you’re taking sleeping pills is like dating your best friend’s ex -- you should never, ever do it.
So if you’re like me and you’re leery about taking sleeping pills, what about using a gravity blanket by Mela Comfort? Weighted blankets can be a good solution for those who would rather find natural sleep.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
If you’re wondering what a weighted blanket is, we’ll break it down for you. They are blankets that weigh more than a typical quilt or comforter. They vary greatly in weight, with some in the lighter range of four pounds or so and others being considerably heavier, like 40 pounds.
Just as with a regular blanket, the material on the outside is soft so you still get that snuggly, warm feeling when you’re in bed at night. The extra weight gives a calming effect, just as it would for a swaddled baby.
The Pros and Cons of a Weighted Blanket
If you’ve never tried one, you might have trouble envisioning how a weighted blanket could improve your shut-eye for the night. After all, isn’t one blanket really just like any other? Nope.
Just as you wouldn’t compare a flip phone from 15 years ago to today’s smartphones, weighted blankets aren’t at all like regular ones.
- The weight can help cut down on stress, physical discomfort, and anxiety, which can improve your physical and mental health.
- It can release dopamine and serotonin through deep pressure stimulation. These brain chemicals are known for their calming effect. That makes them a solid choice for battling anxiety disorders.
- They can help with sleep conditions like restless leg syndrome. While it doesn’t take away your condition, it can help with the symptoms, leading to improved sleep.
- Weighted blankets are being explored as a way to help people struggling with other conditions too, such as agitation in those suffering from dementia. So they may help the elderly rest better as well.
- A weighted blanket is a one-time purchase. Over time, it will cost much less than refilling prescriptions.
- They have also shown promise for common childhood conditions like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- They won’t leave you groggy.
- Due to their weight, they aren’t the easiest to take with you when you’re traveling.
- You need to find one with a removable cover so you can clean it in the wash.
- You might have to try a few before you find a comfortable weight for you. Not every blanket will be right for someone -- you may have to look around before you find the blanket of your dreams.
It’s a Wrap
Weighted blankets aren’t a magic bullet that will magically cause everyone to drift off into a peaceful sleep. Some blankets will be too heavy and some blankets will feel too light, depending upon your preference. But if you experiment, you are likely to find one that will work for you.
And if you do, you’re going to start feeling and looking less like a zombie in The Walking Dead and more like the old you.