Last week, I discussed my battle with pillows in the war on insomnia. Today, I’m going to discuss weighted blankets and my experiences with those over the years.
First, I adore the idea of weighted blankets. I wanted one for ages after first hearing about them. While it’s easier to find and purchase weighted blankets now, a few years ago this was much more difficult. Back in 2015, Jason contacted a local maker and ordered a custom weighted blanket for my Christmas gift. It was a lovely gift and I absolutely adore this blanket, but sadly, I found I couldn’t use it at night. The beads would spill to one side or another on the large squares, leaving lots of gaps, and the blanket itself wasn’t big enough to cover my entire body as I slept. Additionally, it was heavy enough (20 lbs) that it put too much pressure on my arms and feet. The few times I was able to keep it draped across me properly, I slept much better, but most of the time it wasn’t worth the trouble. I find it better as a lap blanket when I’m feeling anxious.
For a few years, I gave up the idea of a weighted blanket after this experience. Then back in the fall, I saw that Walmart was selling cheap-o weighted blankets. This put them back on my radar. When I began looking for a decent pillow a few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and get a weighted blanket as well. I did a little research, and found a 15-lb blanket from Simple Being that seemed right. It had multiple layers to keep glass beads from bunching up, was available in a 60 x 80 inch size (large enough to easily cover me), and made from a cooling fabric (necessary for summer here!). It cost $70, which was on the lower range for weighted blankets but I figured would still be okay.
Unfortunately, the product arrived defected. The materials were cheap, and the stitching was awful and coming apart in places. After one night of using, I noticed a fine sand-like grit all over my bed, and parts of my skin were irritated. However, I slept much better that first night, so I decided to give it a second try. After the second night, several seams ripped open completely on the edges (see pic below), and most of the beads from the middle of the blanket had rolled toward the outside edges. The sandy feel of my bed got worse, and the grit caught in my hair, fingernails, etc. Not good. Returned as defective, do not recommend, would not get another blanket from this company despite its normally good reviews!
More research, because oh my between the pillow and the weighted blanket, my sleep was much deeper even if insomnia-interrupted. The second blanket I bought was a Baloo quilted weighted blanket, 15 lbs, 60 x 80 inches, cooling fabric, $169. More than I wanted to spend, but worth it if it helped me sleep. The blanket arrived on Mother’s Day, actually! I pulled it out of the box and immediately draped it over my body short-ways to feel the weight and how it draped across me. The fabric was wonderful, cool, and smooth, the heaviness even throughout, and my body had an immediate reaction.
Let me say this first: While I love weighted blankets and they’ve helped me to sleep deeper in the past, I’ve never felt a systematic physical/hormonal reaction to them. When I put the Baloo blanket on, my heart rate physically and immediately slowed. The muscles in my legs, torso, and arms relaxed perceptibly, and I began to get chills all up and down the skin of my legs (the same as I get if someone scrubs my back or plays with my hair). It’s the same reaction I have with a really good massage or with touch-therapy, and it didn’t stop after a few minutes. I sat there with that blanket draped across me for over an hour, and the chills just moved to new locations while my body melted into bliss. It was amazing!
Then there was the sleeping. The first night I put this blanket on, I was asleep in under two minutes. While I don’t suffer from can’t-fall-asleep insomnia, I still normally take 20-30 mins to fall asleep. But I was just out. Could have been a coincidence, but there’s literally only been one night I haven’t fallen to sleep quickly since I got this blanket. Better than that, though, the first couple nights I used it, I woke up around 5am and then fell right back to sleep for another few hours. This doesn’t happen to me. I can sometimes manage to go back to sleep (after tossing and turning an hour or so) if I wake up between 2 and 4am. At 5am, though, I’m toast. I’m just up for the day. I definitely don’t sleep in until 7:30 or 8am. But with this blanket, I just change positions, and the touch pressure moves to a new location and glides me right back into sleep. On the third night, I actually woke up at 5:45 and still managed to fall back to sleep until 7:20! For someone with my kind of insomnia, this is astonishing and feels a bit like a miracle.
My goal in getting a new weighted blanket was to not to end my insomnia (an impossible task), but to prevent outside factors from making the insomnia worse. I never expected that the blanket would actually help me to fall back asleep when I woke in the night. It has exceeded my expectations, however. It’s not a miracle-worker: There was one night when I was sore from manual labor, forgot my sleeping pill, and kept my phone on until almost 11pm, and consequently woke up every hour or so all night. But at the same time, during that awful night of sleep I still managed to go back to sleep after each interruption. Which is really, really impressive.
I ordered a slip-cover from Baloo a few days after I decided to keep the blanket, to prevent my cats from making accidental tears in the fabric and destroying the weight distribution. The cover arrived on Monday. Unfortunately, while it is soft and breathable and doesn’t detract from the blanket’s interesting chills-effect, it is too hot for Texas summers. I’ll save it up for the winter, where it’ll probably make that lovely cool weighted blanket just perfect for the colder nights!