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How Using a Weighted Blanket Can Help Patients with Sleep Apnea

November 17, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — 21stsleep @ 4:49 pm
Woman in bed sleeping under a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets were originally designed to help people with anxiety, ADHD, and similar conditions relax so that they could fall asleep more easily. However, evidence suggests that patients who are suffering from sleep apnea might also benefit from using this simple sleep aid. Can a weighted blanket be used as a complementary tool alongside other forms of sleep apnea therapy? The following post explores the potential benefits.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

Weighted blankets are designed to provide “deep pressure stimulation,” which involves applying gentle pressure on the entire body; many people compare it to the feeling of being hugged. Said pressure can help calm the nervous system, reducing feelings of anxiety and lowering the heart rate. This makes it much easier for those who use weighted blankets to fall and stay asleep.

How Can Weighted Blankets Help Patients with Sleep Apnea?

While weighted blankets are by no means a cure for sleep apnea, they can be beneficial if used in conjunction with other treatments. Below are some of the ways that weighted blankets help promote better quality sleep:

  • They stimulate serotonin: Deep pressure stimulation can encourage the body to produce more serotonin, which plays a role in stabilizing the sleep-wake cycle. Serotonin turns into melatonin, which is what the body uses to induce sleep. Higher levels of melatonin can lower the risk of sleep being disrupted.
  • They reduce cortisol levels: Sleep apnea is closely linked to high levels of cortisol, which is the hormone that controls the body’s stress response. Sleeping with a weighted blanket can suppress the release of cortisol, which helps manage the stress that can potentially make sleep disorders more severe.
  • They can lower blood pressure: Raised blood pressure is a common side effect of sleep apnea due to the frequent changes in blood oxygen levels. Studies show sleeping with a weighted blanket may lower blood pressure, thus benefiting the patient’s overall health in the long term.
  • They can encourage healthier sleeping positions: Side sleeping helps the airway stay open. A weighted blanket can make it easier for the patient to get comfortable in this position. Furthermore, the pressure from the blanket can keep the body in place so that the patient is less likely to roll onto their back during the night.

In short, while weighted blankets are not a direct treatment for sleep apnea, they can still help individuals with the disorder get the rest they need. When considering steps that a patient can take at home to address their sleep apnea symptoms, a weighted blanket may be a recommendation worth making.

Meet Dr. Kent Smith

Dr. Kent Smith is the President of the American Sleep Breathing Academy and a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. He enjoys having the opportunity to share his expertise in sleep apnea treatment with his dental colleagues at various seminars and events such as the Roundtable. If you’re interested in learning how he can help you expand your skillset, contact 21st Century Sleep Seminars in Irving at (972) 255-3712.

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