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Do Weighted blankets help relief Menopause symptoms?

The benefits of a weighted blanket to ease symptoms like insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Sleep disturbance, anxiety and depression are all common symptoms of menopause with 20 - 58% of women experiencing one or more of these symptoms during or post menopause.  What sets these symptoms apart is that all three, but especially a lack of sleep (and stress), is known to have a compounding effect on other Menopausal symptoms. In plain language, when our sleep is disturbed, our quality of life suffers across the board. Unfortunately sleep disturbance is a symptom that is unlikely to go away on its own and can start manifesting as late as post menopause. There is a wide range of effective treatment types available ranging from prescription based medicine to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and even over the counter (OTC) products. In this article we discuss an OTC product called “weighted blankets” 

Weighted blankets have recently become more popular and claim to help with anxiety, depression and insomnia. Why does being wrapped in a weighted blanket feel so good? It has everything to do with a therapeutic technique called “deep pressure stimulation” (DPTS) which should make your body and mind feel like it is in a safe space to fall asleep. There is minimal clinical research supporting its efficacy at this point, but many people claim that it helps. In general it can’t hurt to use it, but if you have obstructive sleep apnea, asthma or claustrophobia please consult with your doctor before using it. 

It may be helpful for those suffering from (Menopausal) anxiety, depression and/or sleep issues. As the use of weighted blankets is also linked to reduced levels of stress, it may have an indirect positive impact on a range of other other menopause symptoms.   

What is a weighted blanket?

A weighted blanket is a type of therapeutic blanket that, as the name suggests, is extra heavy to the tune of 5 - 10% of someone's body weight (or more!). The blanket is typically filled with glass beads, plastic balls or sand, and evenly distributed weight of the blanket across the body mimics a therapeutic technique called “deep pressure stimulation” which provides a sense of security for the person using it. The blankets (and duvet inserts) come in different weights, bed sizes and a range of colors, and special cooling versions have been developed for use in tropical climates.   

What are the benefits of a weighted blanket?

Deep pressure stimulation is the use of deep pressure on the body to create a calming effect. There are multiple ways through which this can be done from a simple but tight hug, to massage or using a weighted blanket. Deep pressure stimulation has been shown to be particularly helpful for people with autism, anxiety disorders (including before medical procedures), and sensory processing disorders. 

Which Menopause symptoms can they help with?

A number of small studies have shown promising results when it comes to using Deep pressure stimulation and specifically weighted blankets in reducing anxiety and stress, and improving sleep. However, not enough well-designed clinical studies looking at the use of weighted blankets to alleviate physical or emotional symptoms have been conducted to claim clinical efficacy (yet).

‍Having said that, it is important to note that there isn’t any research that shows that weighted blankets don’t work or have a negative effect. And anecdotal evidence is strong with many people claiming that it has helped greatly with reducing anxiety and stress, and improving overall sleep quality. 

Anxiety 
  • A 2020 study conducted in Florida, USA measured the effects of weighted blankets on people in an inpatient psychiatric facility. The study included 122 participants of which the 50% of participants that used a weighted blanket had significantly lower rates of anxiety than the 50% who used a regular blanket.
  • A 2006 study conducted in the USA with 32 adult participants using a 30lb weighted blanket - 63% reported lowered anxiety after lying under a 30 pound blanket for 5 minutes

Insomnia and sleep disorders
  • A 2020 study conducted in Sweden with 120 participants found weighted blankets improved sleep in people with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. In the study, 120 people received either a light blanket or a weighted blanket (8kgs). After 4 weeks, those who used the weighted blanket had less insomnia and reduced fatigue, depression, or anxiety during the day.
  • A 2020 study included 28 participants with trouble falling and staying asleep. Participants used a weighted blanket of roughly 10% their body weight over the course of 6 weeks. There were self-reported improvements in sleeping through the night, sleep quality, and getting to sleep faster.

How to choose the blanket for your needs
  • Weight. As a general rule, a weighted blanket should be 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, with most people finding 10% of body weight to be optimal. 
  • Size. For women suffering from night sweats we strongly advise to get a single size blanket so that it is easier to change the sheets in the middle of the night (should the need arise).
  • Material. There are many different types available, but in tropical climates you will want one made of cooling materials such as bamboo fibers, or have a look at the blankets from local Singapore company & Snooze.

Key takeaway

When our sleep is disturbed, our quality of life suffers across the board and to make matters worse it also exacerbates other menopausal symptoms. Weighted blankets are an at-home measure that can provide benefits for people suffering from menopausal anxiety, trouble sleeping, and depression. An additional benefit reported by users is stress reduction which can indirectly have a positive effect on a range of menopause symptoms.  Our general advice when choosing a blanket, but in particular for women also struggling with night sweats, is to choose a single size blanket made from cooling material.

For women suffering from clinical anxiety and/or depression a weighted blanket will likely not be sufficient and we strongly recommend you speak with a trained doctor for diagnosis and treatment.  

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Women Like Me has strict sourcing guidelines and relies heavily on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. 

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