There is nothing better than a good night’s sleep. In the hot, humid climate of Puerto Vallarta, this is not always easy. I find I wake up frequently during the night because I am just too warm. Recently, I invested in a set of 100% bamboo sheets. I had heard from others who owned them that once you try bamboo sheets, you never go back to regular sheets. I was skeptical. Having used them for a few months now, I can say that they are worth the extra cost. The price of 100% bamboo sheets is about one and a half times more than the price of a good set of regular sheets. I find I do not wake up as often during the night since the bamboo helps to regulate body temperature. They are also incredibly soft.
Another sleep aid I have read about is called a weighted blanket. As its name suggests, this is a cover that contains evenly distributed small glass or plastic beads in the lining. This weight provides gentle pressure on the body. Blankets come in different weights and sizes so you can select one according to your preference. Weights range from about four pounds to thirty pounds.
Why does additional weight help you sleep better? Scientists believe that deep touch stimulation tells our brains to release neurotransmitters. If you have ever had a gentle massage, you likely have experienced a feeling of calmness. Gentle pressure releases serotonin and dopamine, which relaxes our nervous systems and encourages restful sleep.
Weighted blankets, also called gravity blankets, have been used to reduce anxiety for people on the autism spectrum. It is like tightly wrapping or swaddling a baby. The warm, enveloped feeling emulates being in a mother’s womb.
Today, they have become mainstream sleep aids. Whether you have stress, anxiety or difficulty sleeping, a weighted blanket may provide relief. Preliminary research indicates that sleeping disorders may be related to low serotonin and melatonin in the body. Without enough, our sleep-wake cycle and internal clocks may not function properly. People with restless leg syndrome and who suffer from chronic pain say it provides some relief. There is some evidence that shows it may help lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Experts recommend you select a blanket that is about 10 percent of your body weight. Then, add two pounds. Most weighted blankets have recommendations on their merchandising tags to make it easier to select the best one for your needs. Weighted blankets do not have to replace your duvet or comforter. Make sure to get one that is not larger than the top of your bed. Otherwise, it may slide off easily during the night and is heavy to pull back on.
Although my bamboo sheets have helped, I still toss and turn a lot at night. I decided to try out a weighted blanket. The first thing I can report is that it does seem to provide an increased feeling of relaxation. Some have referred to it as feeling “grounded.” I would describe it as a feeling of stillness. The weight makes you feel like the world has stopped its frantic pace. If you have gone to a dentist for an Xray, it feels somewhat like the weight of the heavy protective covering they put on to protect you.
I was concerned that a weighted blanket might make me feel too warm. If you prefer, you can purchase one with a breathable fabric cover. I also prefer ones with a removable outer cover because they are easier to keep clean. Just remove the cover and throw it in the washer and dryer.
A strong word of caution – a weighted blanket should never be used by children without adult supervision or approval of a healthcare provider. They pose a safety risk. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a medical condition such as diabetes, difficulty breathing, problems with circulation or blood pressure, check with your doctor before using a weighted blanket. Your doctor can advise the right weight and how to safely use your blanket to ensure the best results and avoid complications.
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