Weighted blankets for better sleep?
In recent years, these blankets have been recommended for insomnia and anxiety disorders, and their effectiveness has been the subject of several studies. The observed results were a decrease in the severity of insomnia, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Weighted blankets could also improve sleep in adults and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or autism spectrum disorder. However, the question of the mechanisms underlying these effects is still unanswered.
In a paper published this year, researchers evaluated the effect of using a weighted blanket (12% of the person's body weight) on melatonin, oxytocin, and cortisol concentrations, as well as α-amylase activity, subjective sleepiness, and sleep duration in healthy subjects. The control group slept with light blankets. This study suggests that there may be a melatonin concentration increase during the hour before sleep in the weighted blanket group compared with the light blanket group.
No effect on sleep was found in this article, possible explanations being that the subjects had no particular health history and were assessed during a single night. The hypothesis that melatonin, the hormone of darkness, would be involved in the mechanisms underlying the effects of weighted blankets is interesting. However, future research is required to establish a causal link...