Weighted blankets have become wildly popular in recent years, thanks to the many benefits they can provide. Their ability to mimic a warm embrace and induce feelings of contentment is perceived to help many ailments and conditions, including ADHD, anxiety and restless leg syndrome. But can they do anything for sleep apnea? In this article, we’ll break down the potential benefits of using a weighted blanket for sleep apnea and help you decide if it’s right for you.
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What Is Sleep Apnea?
Before we dive into the benefits of weighted blankets for sleep apnea, let’s take a closer look at the science of the ailment.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repetitive pauses in airflow lasting greater than 10 seconds. It most commonly occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked by soft tissue in the back of the throat, in which case, it’s known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The less common types of sleep apnea include Central Obstructive and Complex.
Individuals with sleep apnea rarely know that they have problems breathing at night. More often than not, a family member will witness the individual during an episode or complain about their snoring (a common sign of sleep apnea).
CPAP machines are currently the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea. These machines help the individual breathe consistently by delivering a steady stream of oxygenated air into the airways.
The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Research has linked untreated sleep apnea to a number of health concerns, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain cancers
Additionally, research suggests that allowing sleep apnea to go untreated can cause a spike in blood sugar, heart rate, stress levels and blood pressure.
Potential Benefits of Weighted Blankets for Sleep Apnea
Weighted blankets are not a treatment or cure for sleep apnea. If you have signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s important that you make an appointment with your doctor right away.
That said, weighted blankets have positive effects on the body that may benefit those with sleep apnea. Here are a few reasons why people are turning to weighted blankets as a complementary tool alongside CPAP machines and medications.
- They Can Improve Your Sleep – People with sleep apnea often suffer from poor sleep as a result of their condition, which is known to cause frequent awakenings. If you’re tired of feeling sleepy in the daytime, a weighted blanket may help. Weighted blankets can increase the production of serotonin, which then turns into melatonin — the body’s natural sleep-inducing hormone. Melatonin works with your body’s circadian rhythm to encourage you to fall into a deeper sleep.
- They Keep Cortisol Levels Low – Sleep apnea also has a link to increased levels of cortisol. While some cortisol is good for the body, the prolonged secretion of this hormone can be harmful to your health. Weighted blankets deliver soothing pressure to the body through a technique called deep touch pressure, which helps lower your heart rate and breathing and keep your cortisol levels in check.
- They Can Lower Your Blood Pressure – Many people with sleep apnea also struggle with high blood pressure due to sudden drops in blood oxygen levels throughout the night. Weighted blankets mimic the feeling of a warm embrace, which may lower your stress levels and blood pressure.
- They May Help You Sleep in a Healthier Position – Side sleeping is generally the best sleeping position for people with sleep apnea because it allows air to flow freely to their lungs. If you’re training yourself to be a side sleeper, you may find it easier to get comfortable with a weighted blanket. That’s because the added pressure of a weighted blanket can ground your body, making you less likely to roll over into the back sleeping position.
- They Can Boost Your Mood – There is a well-documented correlation between lack of sleep and psychiatric disorders — and if you have obstructive sleep apnea, this correlation becomes even more profound. Among adults with OSA, 53.9 percent have some degree of anxiety and 46.1 percent have depressive symptoms, according to a study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. Weighted blankets may help alleviate symptoms of mood disorders by increasing the production of feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin and serotonin. When combined with lower cortisol levels, they can contribute to a deep sense of contentment.
Should You Invest in a Weighted Blanket for Sleep Apnea?
That’s your call to make. However, it should be noted that people with sleep apnea are generally advised to check with their doctor before using a weighted blanket.
Once your doctor says it’s okay to sleep with a weighted blanket, you’ll want to find one that ticks off all the boxes. Ideally, you want to choose a weighted blanket that is around 10 percent of your bodyweight.
From our best-selling Gravity weighted blanket to our revolutionary cooling weighted blankets with moisture-wicking fabrics, Gravity Blankets has a wide assortment of weighted blankets to help you get your best night’s sleep ever. Pick up yours today and start getting the snooze you need!Get Your Cooling Weighted Blanket