If there’s one thing that most doctors can agree upon, it’s that there’s nothing quite like getting a good night’s sleep for your overall health. But just because you get to bed at a reasonable hour doesn’t mean you won’t toss and turn trying to get some real rest. You’ve put your phone down and tried counting sheep, but there’s one thing you likely haven’t given a go. A recent study says that a weighted blanket could be the one thing you need to help you sleep through the night.
The good news comes from Swedish researchers, who tested the effectiveness of weighted blankets on 120 adult patients with insomnia for four weeks as part of a randomized, controlled study, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports. They found that test subjects in the weighted blanket group were 26 times more likely to experience a decrease of 50 percent or more in their insomnia severity compared with the control group, and were 20 times more likely to achieve full remission of their sleep condition.
And the good news doesn’t stop there: Patients in the weighted blanket group not only experienced better sleep maintenance, but they also reported a higher daytime activity level and reduced symptoms of fatigue, depression, and anxiety. An open follow-up on the study found that these results were maintained for 12 months.
“A suggested explanation for the calming and sleep-promoting effect is the pressure that the chain blanket applies on different points on the body, stimulating the sensation of touch and the sense of muscles and joints, similar to acupressure and massage,” principal investigator Mats Alder, MD, consulting psychiatrist in the department of clinical neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said in a statement.
This is not the first study to find such results. A 2015 study found that the use of weighted blankets had “a positive impact on sleep, both objectively and subjectively, where a number of physiological and behavioral measures were improved during weighted blanket use.” The researchers called the blankets an “innovative, nonpharmacological approach and complementary tool to improve sleep quality.”
The effects of weighted blankets may be new to some, but the medical community has long seen them as more than a cure for sleeplessness: They’re commonly used as a form of therapy to treat other conditions including general anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “Weighted blankets have been around for a long time, especially for kids with autism or behavioral disturbances,” Cristina Cusin, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told Harvard Health Publishing. “It is one of the sensory tools commonly used in psychiatric units.”
But which is the best weighted blanket for you? The previously mentioned 2015 study recommends curling up under one that is 10 percent of your body weight for the best results—which would mean a 15-pound blanket for someone who weighs 150 pounds. And for more on getting some shut eye, check out Never Put This In Your Body Before Bed If You Want to Sleep, Doctors Say.