For athletes or those recovering from intense exercise, weighted blankets may be especially beneficial, as they can promote the restful sleep needed for recovery. In this post, we’ll learn what the research says about how a weighted blanket improve exercise recovery.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is a specially designed heavy blanket that has the added weight sewn into the inner core of the blanket material to put added pressure on the body while you sleep. This is known as deep touch pressure (DTP).
The Applied Pressure Is Calming
Weighted blankets are becoming more popular and have been reported to improve sleep. They come in various weights to meet the needs of those with different body sizes, and the applied pressure to the body is believed to have a calming effect and improve sleep.
Better Sleep and Rest
An athlete, or anyone doing intense physical activity, can use one of these natural sleep aids to get the rest and deep sleep required for mental and physical renewal.
The Benefit of Improved Sleep with a Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are useful for athletes and those recovering from physical activity because they improve sleep.
Athletes Need More Sleep
As the National Sleep Foundation reports, adequate sleep is necessary for coordination, recovery, and muscle growth, and athletes demonstrate a need for more sleep than the average person needs for general good health. The research supports the use of weighted blankets for improving sleep.
Weighted Blankets Increase Sleep and Reduce Movement
In fact, a 2015 study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found that the amount of time spent sleeping increased and movement during sleep decreased with the use of a weighted blanket. The people who participated in the study reported that it was easier to fall asleep with a weighted blanket, and they felt more refreshed in the morning.
A weighted blanket just might be the answer to getting the restful night of sleep needed to recover from intense training.
Specific Benefits for Athletes and the Physically Active
It might already sound obvious enough but many studies and research have established that weighted blankets can improve sleep, which may be especially important for athletes and people who are intensely physically active.
More Sleep Improves Athletic Performance
For example, a 2019 report in Sports Medicine reviewed the results of multiple studies and found that getting more sleep improves athletic performance.
Sleep Deprivation Hurts Athletic Performance
On the flip side, sleep deprivation can hurt athletic performance. A study in a 2017 publication of the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that sleep-deprived cyclists were less motivated to train the day following an intense exercise session.
And the performance of these athletes during a cycling workout worsened, compared to when they had enough sleep.
With that in mind, a weighted blanket can improve athletic performance by preventing sleep deprivation and helping athletes to get enough sleep to perform their best.
Mental Health Benefits of a Weighted Blanket
Beyond improving sleep, using a weighted blanket can improve mental health following an intense training session or workout.
Weighted Blankets Reduce Anxiety
Demonstrating this benefit, a 2008 study in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health found that 63 percent of study participants had a reduction in anxiety levels after using a 30-pound weighted blanket.
Furthermore, a majority of the participants reported that they preferred the blanket as a calming method to help them relax.
Relax After Exercise
Again, these benefits extend specifically to athletes. A 2019 study conducted for presentation at a conference of the International Journal of Exercise Science found that weighted blanket use can help people to relax after exercise.
Based on this finding, a weighted blanket can help people to cope with the stress of intense training. Less stress can help with concentration and focus.
A Weighted Blanket Aids Muscle Recovery
Using weighted blankets can help the muscles recover following intense training or physical activity.
Ease Swelling and Inflammation
Experts have agreed that the compression provided by weighted blankets can ease swelling and inflammation. On top of that, they also help with muscle recovery by promoting better quality and more adequate sleep.
Assist Muscle Recovery
Because weighted blankets can assist with muscle recovery, they are beneficial not only for athletes, but also for people who work in physically taxing jobs, such as nursing, manual labor, or landscaping.
And other than muscle recovery, there are other benefits that come with using weighted blankets. Research shows that weighted blankets also help with anxiety and sleep quality.