Can’t Keep Me Down
Can the Bed Block support a weighted blanket? Short answer is YES!
Bed Block has taken me on the quest to sleep better through a more fine-tuned understanding of the physiology and functionality behind how we sleep. My latest journey to optimize my sleep had me listening to my wife (again) and trying a weighted blanket. I have known of weighted blankets for a while and heard good things about how they work to reduce anxiety and stress in those with autism. I was curious about other claims and if peer-reviewed data supports those claims. A quick Google search links weighted blankets to helping with autism, ADHD, and anxiety, to insomnia, Fibromyalgia, and even pain management.
As far as the clinical data goes, weighted blankets could provide comfort and ease some conditions, depending on the person. The ability to conduct a double-blind study is impossible as you cannot issue a person a placebo weighted blanket; it is either weighted or not. That being said, the little data that exists does support the benefits of blanket. A Swedish study published in American Academy of Sleep Medicine found “[w]eighted blankets are a safe and effective intervention in the treatment of insomnia...insomnia patients with psychiatric disorders experienced reduced insomnia severity, improved sleep and less daytime sleepiness when sleeping with a weighted chain blanket.” This data was reassuring, but I remained skeptical and continued my research.
I found that most weighted blanket manufacturers recommend a blanket weight of roughly 10% of your body weight. I chose a 15-pound blanket I found on Amazon that works for warmer weather, as evenings in Arizona can still be a little warm, even with the air conditioning running. After reading a few blogs on others who used weighted blankets, I decided that a one-week trial would provide enough time to properly evaluate my weighted blanket experience.
Upon receiving my blanket the first thing that I noticed was the considerable heft. I never thought much about the weight of a blanket, but the 15 pounds was very noticeable. When wrapped around me standing up, I recalled the constraining security my heavy body armor used to provide when I was in Iraq and the comfortable naps in the oddest of places I took in my armor. After marveling at its weight for a few minutes, I set up my Bed Block in a position to support it. I sleep with the tall side up, flat side against my feet. I found that the weighted blanket did compress the Bed Block a bit, but when I laid down, there was still a decent amount of room that allowed my feet to rest comfortably without the weighted blanket pulling on my ankles. I’ll be honest here, given the heft of the blanket, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Bed Block holding strong.
Night 1: As a back sleeper, I found the blanket to be stifling and constrictive, but my wife noted that I tossed and turned less. Despite this, due to the almost claustrophobic feeling I couldn’t look past, I did not sleep well on the first night. I committed to a week, so I’ll chalk this one up to the learning process.
Night 2: Knowing what I was in for this night, I appropriately set expectations and snuggled under my concrete dome of comfort and safety. Knowing I wasn’t going to move much, I didn’t try to fight it, I just tried to get comfortable. The discomfort wasn’t as bad as the first night, but I think that was more due to my expectations being set more than my being accustomed to the feel of the weighted blanket. Unexpectedly, I did wake feeling better than the previous night. My mood was a little more elevated than it is most mornings. I don’t think it was a big improvement, but it did give me hope the weighted blanket might be a good fit for me. A point of note on the second night: the blanket slid partially off the bed during the night, so I grabbed and pulled it up without thinking and it felt like my shoulder was going to pop loose (another since healed injury). I would recommend placing your feet on the ground before replacing the weighted blanket to avoid tweaking your back or other less-than-100% joints.
Night 3: In the normal course of my suburban Dad hunting and gathering on the open plains of Costco, I tweaked my knee maneuvering an excessively loaded cart of food for growing boys. I didn’t think much about it as I tend to gather bumps and bruises seemingly out of nowhere, but when I laid down under the weighted blanket, there was a noticeable pressure on my ACL that caused discomfort. After a couple hours wrestling the blanket to find a comfortable position, I was forced to abandon the study until I could get the swelling down. I’m not going to lie, shedding the weighted blanket provided a few minutes of relief before I fell back asleep, but I am very interested in giving this a good go for my 7-day experiment. For now, the trial remains on hold, but I will follow this up with a part two once my knee is up to the task.
Overall takeaways: Scientifically, it would appear the weighted blanket can be effective on an individual basis. The research just isn’t there to support the wide variety of claims that many manufacturers are making. That being said, I have a positive feeling about my potential with the weighted blanket, and the Bed Block has been an effective tool to increase comfort in the process.
Until next time,