Do you struggle with sleep apnea? If so, you might have stumbled upon weighted blankets and thought: can I use a weighted blanket if I have sleep apnea?
You should not use a weighted blanket if you have sleep apnea. A weighted blanket may restrict breathing while you’re sleeping. However, weighted blankets are effective at treating anxiety and depression as well as ADHD.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax, closing your airways. You may wake up gasping for air or with dry mouth as a result. This is the most common type of sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t tell you to breathe. It’s not sending the right signals to your diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central. It’s not nearly as common as either of the above types.
Whether or not you have obstructive, central, or complex, everyone’s body may react differently to treatment. For many, a CPAP machine is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. They are sometimes used to treat central and complex sleep apnea as well.
To find out what treatment works best for you, you can choose to undergo a sleep study. Observers will monitor you while you sleep to help determine the best course of action to treat your sleep apnea.
Although a weighted blanket won’t help treat sleep apnea, there are many other things you can do.
- Lose weight and stay active
- Take decongestants, allergy meds, or nasal sprays
- Try sleeping in a different position – on one side or on your back
Sleep apnea is more common and often more severe in people with pre-existing conditions such as:
- History of a stroke or heart attack
Everyone’s treatment for sleep apnea may be slightly different depending on its severity and your current behaviors and habits. So, it’s incredibly important to consult your doctor before treating sleep apnea.
Large hospitals will often have sleep centers with sleep specialists with whom you can book appointments. Your primary care physician may also have recommendations if you’re struggling with sleep apnea.
Check out our weighted blanket ultimate guide to find the right one for you.
Can weighted blankets be harmful?
Yes, weighted blankets can be harmful to people with obstructive sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and other related respiratory conditions.
Weighted blankets, as the name suggests, can be pretty heavy. They put constant pressure on the ribcage and diaphragm while you are sleeping. To most people, this is not harmful.
But if you already have a respiratory condition that restricts breathing, a weighted blanket can exacerbate that problem.
If you have trouble sleeping and you have a respiratory condition, ask your doctor about other treatment options.
If your weighted blanket is too heavy, it can cause some breathing problems. Make sure to find the right weight for your weighted blanket so you can sleep comfortably.
Is it OK to sleep with a weighted blanket every night?
That depends on the person. Some people will find comfort sleeping with their weighted blanket two to three times a week. Others may love to use it every day. Early on, you may want to use it just a few times a week. That way you get used to the weight and don’t become too sore over time.
After a few weeks, you can start using your weighted blanket more. Everyone is different so you just have to try the weighted blanket out for a few weeks. You’ll learn what works best for you over time.
If you have a respiratory condition, be cautious. Consult your doctor before using a weighted blanket, as it can be dangerous for sensitive groups.
Do doctors recommend weighted blankets?
Doctors recommend weighted blankets on a case-by-case basis. Studies have shown that they help reduce anxiety and depression, along with ADHD. Weighted blankets are a common treatment for children and may be recommended by doctors to treat these conditions.
Studies show that weighted blankets are less effective at improving sleep in children with autism, but they may still be recommended in some cases.
Are weighted blankets good for side sleepers?
Yes, weighted blankets can be great for side sleepers. Keep in mind that you’ll probably want a lighter weighted blanket than people who sleep on their back.
If you sleep on your side, your weight won’t be evenly distributed. Instead, you’ll be putting more pressure on your right or left side and hip. So, take 10% of your body weight, then subtract about five pounds from that number.
Do weighted blankets help with back pain?
Yes, a weighted blanket can help with back pain as long as it’s not too heavy. Consult your doctor first, though. You don’t want to make the back pain any worse.
If you continue to struggle with back pain while using a weighted blanket, try sleeping on your back. Your weight will be more evenly distributed.
Does weighted blanket help with anxiety?
Yes. Weighted blankets increase dopamine and serotonin levels, stress-reducing hormones that help you relax and feel happy. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine conducted a study proving the effectiveness of weighted blankets to treat anxiety.
Are weighted blankets good for depression?
Yes, weighted blankets are effective at treating depression and anxiety. They increase the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the body. These chemicals are neurotransmitters that tell your brain to feel happy and relaxed.
Is a weighted blanket good for fibromyalgia?
Yes! Those with fibromyalgia have low serotonin, so increasing serotonin levels is key for treatment. Using a weighted blanket decreased cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increased serotonin levels (happiness hormone), according to one study.
Is a weighted blanket good for insomnia?
Yes, weighted blankets are quite effective at treating insomnia, according to a study published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The study involved 120 participants. Half were given a light blanket, the other half were given a weighted blanket. They were monitored for four weeks.
With the weighted blanket, people felt more energetic during the day and had fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, the study found.
Is a weighted blanket good for autism?
Deep pressure stimulation has shown to be effective at calming people with autism. That being said, there’s not a lot of research out there on this topic. Most researchers cite a study where Temple Grandin, who has autism, built a “hug machine” or sleep machine. She used this and, in short, it was calming for her.
Here’s what she said about it, from this 1992 study:
“At age 18, I constructed the squeeze machine to help calm down the anxiety and panic attacks. Using the machine for 15 minutes would reduce my anxiety for up to 45-60 minutes (Grandin and Scariano 1986). The relaxing effect was maximized if the machine was used twice a day.”
Temple Grandin is a scientist known for her work surrounding autism.
Is a weighted blanket good for the elderly?
Yes, weighted blankets are just as effective for the elderly as younger people. That being said, depression can be a common early sign of dementia as people age (see this study). So a weighted blanket can help combat depression (and anxiety) and thus reduce the risk of dementia.
Also, elderly people may have other respiratory conditions and heart problems that can’t be ignored. If they have COPD, sleep apnea, issues with circulation, or history of a stroke, weighted blankets are not recommended.
We hope you found this article on weighted blankets and sleep apnea helpful. Always remember to consult your doctor before using a weighted blanket. More often than not, it won’t be the right choice to treat your sleep apnea. Ask about alternative options for treatment.
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