Weighted duvets improve sleep, reduce worry and anxiety, and make you feel more alert the next day. This has been proven in a large scientific study at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge.
Millions of Swedes suffer from insomnia problems at some point, and healthcare professionals clearly see it in specific groups, such as depression, ADHD and dementia. For these groups, weighted blankets have long been used as a therapeutic treatment method for better sleep.
Mats Adler, senior physician and research director at the Centre for Psychiatry Research at Karolinska University Hospital, has conducted a pilot and controlled study on 199 patients with sleep problems.
– We have many patients who sleep very poorly, and for many years they have been prescribed weighted blankets by occupational therapists. Patients have had very positive experiences with weighted blankets, but there has been relatively little research on the effect of blankets.
The lack of clinical evidence contributed to doubts about the actual effect of weighted duvets on sleep health.
– That's why we doctors were sceptical about them, but as patients reported that the blankets helped their sleep, we wanted to start using them more systematically as a treatment,' says Mats Adler.
A pilot study to investigate the effects of weighted duvets on sleep was started.
– When the results were positive, we decided to go ahead with a controlled study," says Mats Adler.
In the controlled study published in 2020, patients slept for four weeks with either a lighter 1.5 kg duvet or an 8 kg weighted duvet.
– The study used the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) rating scale, which is used in sleep research. The controlled study showed that those with weighted blankets had significantly better sleep and were significantly more alert the following day. In addition, their anxiety and worry were reduced. We could also see with movement meters that those who slept with weighted duvetss were more active for longer periods during the day," says Mats Adler.
Those who received the lighter blanket in the study saw a small placebo effect that was transient, while those who received the weighted blanket saw a large improvement in sleep, which also lasted over time.
– When we followed up the study after a year, those with the weighted blanket had further improved the positive outcome.
The explanation for why people sleep better with a weighted duvetst is that it releases endogenous hormones.
The blanket provides a pleasant weight against the body that sends sensory feedback to the brain, which has a calming and relaxing effect in various ways. This can be done partly through a pure nerve impulse and partly through the release of calming hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin," says Mats Adler.
CURA of Sweden
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