adult-asleep-bed-935777

UPPSALA, Sweden — Weighted blankets could be a simple solution for those looking to get better sleep each night. A new study shows that young adults using a weighted blanket increased their production of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

Moreover, researchers from Uppsala University say this bedtime strategy also lowered stress levels by helping the body to produce more oxytocin — the “love hormone.”

Previous studies have found a link between using a weighted blanket and easing the symptoms of insomnia. In this experiment, researchers examined 26 young men and women while they used a weighted blanket at bedtime. These blankets carried 12 percent of the user’s body weight. To measure stress levels, the team collected saliva samples while they covered themselves with either a weighted blanket or a light sheet. Saliva allows scientists to measure melatonin, oxytocin, cortisol, and the activity of the fight and flight sympathetic nervous system.

Melatonin increases by a third

“Using a weighted blanket increased melatonin concentrations in saliva by about 30 percent. However, no differences in oxytocin, cortisol, and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system were observed between the weighted and light blanket conditions,” reports study first author Elisa Meth, a Ph.D. student at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences at Uppsala University, in a media release.

blanket melatonin
A new study from Uppsala University shows that using a weighted blanket at bedtime increases melatonin in young adults. (CREDIT: Uppsala University)

“Our study may offer a mechanism explaining why weighted blankets may exert some therapeutic benefits, such as improved sleep. However, our findings rely on a small sample and investigated only the acute effects of a weighted blanket. Thus, larger trials are needed, including an investigation of whether the observed effects of a weighted blanket on melatonin are sustained over longer periods,” adds senior author Christian Benedict, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences at Uppsala University.

The findings appear in the Journal of Sleep Research.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor