For most of us, life is busier than ever and it feels like bedtime does not bring the refreshing respite we crave. The pressures of a fast-paced society in the age of technology and social media can result in over-stimulated nervous systems aggravated even further by staring at bright screens throughout the day.
Insomnia is a fairly common disorder. According to the CDC, American adults need seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night for overall health and wellness.
This sleep disorder can make it hard to fall asleep or make people wake up way too early. Insomnia can be acute or chronic: the former is the most common form and usually lasts from a few days to weeks, while the chronic case can stay on for months or years.
With a good night’s rest in high demand, yet still elusive, Americans are searching for natural ways to promote healthy sleep patterns.
Insomnia is linked to a number of physical and mental health disorders. Adults who get less than seven hours of sleep per night on a regular basis are more likely to suffer from health risks such as obesity, depression, stroke, and heart disease.
There are various home remedies for insomnia, some are effective some are less so. Home remedies are not medicines, they are not proven in controlled environments but despite this, many people report a certain level of success. Just keep this in mind and don’t get disappointed if you see no results.
Caution: if your condition and the lack of sleep persists, reach out and ask for medical help.
Chamomile tea has been used for centuries for various health issues from reducing menstural pain to reducing inflammation. Most notable is their ability to calm and ease people, therefore heling with sleep and relaxation.
This spice is highly popular for its sweet aroma, made from the seeds of the tropical tree species of genus Myristica. Similar to Chamomile, it is credited to have calming effect and some claim to have sleep inducing properties.
Normal and even almond milk is a great source of calcium, which helps melatonin production in the brain. Also contains tryptophan which is also claimed to promote sleep, apparently. Take the warm milk an hour before going to bed for best results.
Valerian is a medicinal herb that has also been used for centuries due to its sedating effect. Talk to a doctor before using it, as research on the effectivenes for insomnia is mixed.
You don’t need to take herbs, tea or other proven or less effective remedies. It should help greatly to simply change your bad practices before going to bed, and during the day.
Electronic devices, like television and cell phones, emit blue wavelengths of the spectrum which is benefitial during the day (boost attention and mood) but not at night. Try to stop using these devices an hour before going to bed.
Physical exercise during the day, especially in the morning, is also associated with a good night sleep.
Environment in the bedroom is also important, being restful, having the right temperature, light, mattress and blankets can have a huge impact on the quality of sleep.
Keep regular sleep hours, this will programme the body to sleep better. There is no exact time for going to bed or waking up - whatever suits your lifestyle, but keep it regular.
Cut down on caffeine in general, but definitely do not consume any coffee, black tea or energy drinks. Get pure water, a chamomile or herbal tea instead.
Don’t struggle trying to get sleep. If you don’t fall asleep for more than an hour, get up and walk around, read a book, anything relaxing, then go back to bed and try again.
Weighted blankets have soared in popularity over the past year with many retailers finding it hard to keep them in stock over the holiday shopping season. Their popularity stems from the claims that weighted blankets can reduce insomnia, anxiety, depression, Restless Leg Syndrome, and help alleviate PTSD symptoms.
Product reviews and consumer reports, as well as professional studies have backed up many of these claims and weighted blankets continue to dominate online sales and Pinterest boards across the country.
So, what exactly are these miracle working weighted blankets that are all the rage right now? Typically ranging from 15 to 30 pounds, weighted blankets usually consist of several pockets of squares quilted together into a blanket significantly heavier than a regular comforter or quilt.
The individually filled squares filled with weights such as poly-pellets or beads. The quilted squares help ensure that the pressure from the weighted blanket is distributed evenly over the body.
Essentially, a weighted blanket is just a blanket with evenly distributed weights.
Weighted blankets tout many advantages, but perhaps the most sought-after benefit is its promise of a good night’s sleep. To examine how a weighted blanket can promote more restful sleep, we need to first take a look at an a amazing neurotransmitter: serotonin.
Serotonin is one of the brain’s most important chemicals. More specifically, it is a neurotransmitter - a delivery man who carries messages back and forth to different nerves that help regulate sleep cycles.
Healthy serotonin levels are essential to a healthy night’s sleep. Stress and an irregular sleep/wake cycle can hinder the body’s production and maintenance of serotonin. Low serotonin levels can lead to chronic conditions such as depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.
We have established that sleep is important to our health and serotonin is important for sleep. So, how do we produce adequate levels of serotonin?
One of the ways is through Deep Touch Pressure. DTP is a therapy technique which has long been used to help treat individuals with sensory processing problems for those on the autism spectrum.
DTP simply refers to the practice of applying gentle pressure firmly on the body which acts as sensory tactile input. This tactile therapy technique soothes the nervous system when it is overloaded.
It is the same science behind giving someone a hug to comfort them, or swaddling a fussy baby to soothe them. DTP can relax muscles, slow heart rate, reduce blood pressure, increase circulation, and increase serotonin.
Studies have indicated that DTP can raise and maintain serotonin levels. Remember, serotonin is extremely important for mood regulation and, especially, restful sleep. Weighted blankets are a great tool for DTP to promote serotonin production.
Weighted blankets can be a great way to naturally promote a night of quality sleep. When used regularly, it can help restore the body to its natural circadian rhythm - an individual’s sleep/wake cycle.
There is a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders (PDF) by Ackerley, Badre Olausson, that describes the positive effect of weighted blankets on insomnia. Their conclusion was the following: “The weighted chain blanket used in the present study had a positive impact on sleep, both objectively and subjectively, where a number of physiological and behavioral measures were improved during weighted blanket use. When the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep, with a decrease in movements.”
Deep Touch Pressure also helps improve symptoms of anxiety - one of the chief causes of insomnia.
The nervous system consists of two primary parts: the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems. The first system - the SNS - is is triggered by stressful situations and alerts the body to respond appropriately.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is that part that kicks in to calm down the nervous system after a stressful event. Without the PNS, we could not calm down after a stressful day and go to sleep.
The body contains deep touch pressure points that are stimulated by Deep Touch Pressure. These pressure points receive messages that encourage relaxation and serotonin production.
A weighted blanket, through the implementation of DTP, essentially forces the body to be still. Of course, at less than 30 pounds, a weighted blanket does not immobilize an adult wrapped up underneath it. But, like a hug, it encourages stillness by relaxing muscles, lowering heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing anxiety.
In addition to falling asleep faster, a weighted blanket can help us stay asleep longer without awaking as often throughout the night.
It is important that weighted blankets be heavy enough to apply sufficient DTP to help with insomnia and other physical and mental issues. Yet, it should not be so heavy that it is difficult to move around during the night. For kids, weighted blankets should be 10% of their body weight plus 1 to 2 pounds.
For adults, it should be just around 10% of their body weight. Keep in mind, that the goal of a weighted blanket is comfort, which will promote sleep. An individual cannot sleep well if they are not comfortable, so if a blanket needs to be lighter or heavier, it is fine to deviate from the general formula and find what works best.
Since weighted blankets are heavy, they can also get hot. No one can sleep well if they are overheated. If a weighted blanket does get unbearably hot during the night, try finding one that is made of breathable, cotton blends rather than polyester.
The American Sleep Association reports that between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder that can negatively affect physical, mental and emotional health.
Healthy adults require a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night to function at optimum levels during the day. Consistently lacking the appropriate sleep durations can have detrimental consequences.
It is estimated that 1,550 fatalities occur each year in car accidents caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. Another 400,000 injuries are attributed to injuries in car accidents caused by drowsy drivers. Sacrificing sleep and getting behind the wheel can have deadly results. Implementing natural methods, such as DTP and weighted blankets, can largely impact safety on the roads.
The CDC reports that chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes can be attributed to lack of adequate sleep. Chronic lack of sleep has been specifically linked to Hemoglobin A1C levels, which is an important indicator of blood sugar. Furthermore, longer sleep duration has been linked to improving blood sugar levels in individuals already suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. Good sleep is essential for good health.
Sleep conditions like sleep apnea have also been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias. Chronic conditions linked to heart disease are more common in those who do not experience regular sleep disturbances. Healthy sleep cycles encourage good heart health and weighted blankets can be a great way to promote good health.
Serotonin levels are naturally stabilized during sleep. Lack of sleep can result in lack of serotonin and, therefore, depression. Depression is a complex issue that cannot be blamed solely on sleep disturbance.
However, studies do indicate that adequate sleep is essential for those who are being treated for depression and that there is a link between a healthy mind and sound sleep.
Good sleep is essential to good living. Insomnia can result in a variety of health issues and weighted calming blankets can be a great way to naturally achieve a good night’s sleep.
Deep Touch Pressure can help relax muscles, increase circulation, and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. All of these physical enhancements can help individuals fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with fewer disturbances in between.
Healthy sleep patterns are encouraged by the help of a weighted blanket. Deep Touch Pressure naturally increases serotonin, provides tactile input to the sensory system, and promotes healthy sleeping patterns.
These benefits, in turn, promote healthy living. Lack of sleep can have serious consequences on the mind and body. Stop insomnia in its tracks by using a weighted blanket to achieve a great night’s sleep.