You don’t have to rely on those sleeping medicines anymore to push you to sleep. A new study published in the Journal of Sleep Research has found that sleeping with weighted blankets secretes the hormone, melatonin. A hormone that aids with better sleep, stress relief, as well as anxiety.

Weighted blankets are fast-paced and have become especially popular in many homes for their ability to ease insomnia and anxiety. Study authors credit melatonin and oxytocin for this benefit. Their findings reveal that weighted blankets release melatonin to help promote sleep, along with oxytocin. 

A prior study found that the use of a weighted blanket during bedtime for over a month relieved insomnia much more than those using a light blanket to sleep. Although, the study authors say the exact mechanism behind the effect of sleeping properly with weighted blankets is not entirely clear. They then set out to investigate if the use of weighted blankets at night could cause higher salivary production of melatonin and oxytocin when compared to using a light blanket. On top of that, the researchers also test for the impact of weighted blankets on anxiety.

For the most part, this is the first study to suggest that using a weighted blanket at bedtime could result in more release of this melatonin. To experiment, the researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden included a total of 26 participants. Of the 26, 11 were women and the other 13 were men. Each of the participant’s saliva was collected at intervals while they slept lying facing up under the weighted blanket covering their entire body. The saliva was collected to gauge the impact of the weighted blanket on oxytocin, melatonin, the stress hormone- cortisol as well as the body’s ability to ‘fight or flight’ (anxiety).

The filling of the weighted blanket was mostly honed glass pearls coupled with polyester waddling that correlated to 12.2 percent of the user’s body weight. Similarly, some participants were given a light blanket equating to 2.4 percent of their body weight.

From the results, the study authors found that the use of a weighted blanket was linked to a 30 percent increase in salivary melatonin when compared to the light blanket. On the other hand, the authors found no variation in oxytocin and cortisol levels, including any activity on the sympathetic nervous system when using both weighted and light blankets.

“Our study may offer a mechanism explaining why weighted blankets may exert some therapeutic benefits, such as improved sleep. However, our findings rely on a small sample and investigated only the acute effects of a weighted blanket. Thus, larger trials are needed, including an investigation of whether the observed effects of a weighted blanket on melatonin are sustained over longer periods,” says lead author, Christian Benedict.

In summation, it’s worth noting that the researchers failed to determine if the results would have been similar with the use of different weighted blankets. In addition to that, the authors can’t say for a fact if the same benefit of these weighted blankets can apply to other population groups.  Some of which include older people and patients with sleep or mental disorders.

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