Can You Use a Weighted Blanket with Sleep Apnea?

Can you use a weighted blanket with sleep apnea

Despite getting seven hours of sleep a night or more, if you feel tired throughout the day, you should seek a doctor. You may have Sleep Apnea, which occurs when the walls of your throat collapse and become narrow while you sleep.

The question here is can you use a weighted blanket with Sleep Apnea? Well, here’s the thing about weighted blankets.

When too much air is forced through a narrowed airway, vibrations occur in the tissues at the back of the throat, causing loud snoring. Additionally, individuals with sleep apnea experience pause in breathing periodically.

Can You Use a Weighted Blanket with Sleep Apnea?

What is Sleep Apnea?

People who have sleep apnea experience breathing problems in their sleep. When sleep apnea is left untreated, a person can stop breathing hundreds of times per night. Sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues, including high blood pressure and heart problems. Overweight and older men with sleep apnea are most likely to suffer from this condition.

Symptoms and Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea leads to sleep deprivation because of constant interruptions and shallower sleep. As a result, it is not surprising that sleep apnea is associated with numerous health problems. Primary causes of sleep apnea include disturbed sleep and decreased oxygen levels caused by breathing interruptions. Some of the risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Fatigue during the day. Sleep apnea causes repeated awakenings that prevent restorative sleep, contributing to excessive daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and irritability. When you work, watch TV, or drive, you might have trouble concentrating and fall asleep. Sleep Apnea can significantly increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident and workplace accident.
  • Hypertension or heart disease. Sleep apnea causes blood oxygen levels to suddenly drop during sleep, increasing blood pressure and straining the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure (hypertension) is an increased risk with obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Type 2 diabetes. As a result of having sleep apnea, you are at greater risk of developing insulin resistance and  type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome. The symptoms of hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and an increased waist circumference are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Problems with the liver. Patients with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal liver function tests and to have signs of scarring in their livers (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
  • Have trouble sleeping with your partner. Snoring can prevent you from getting good rest if you sleep near someone who snores. Some couples are forced to sleep in a different room or on a different floor of the house to rest.
 

The most common sign of OSA is snoring; however, being a snorer does not mean you have sleep apnea. In general, a person suffering from sleep apnea is oblivious to their breathing difficulties during the night. Therefore, they often only hear about the problem from their bed partner, family member, or roommate.

Sleep Apnea Causes

A genetic disorder.

Genetic factors almost certainly cause Sleep Apnea. An individual with a large tongue or tonsils, or a narrow upper airway, may suffer from Sleep Apnea. As a result of genetics, a person can also develop Sleep Apnea if they have a large overbite, resulting in a reduced airway.

Sleep Apnea in men.

Sleep apnea affects men three times more often than it does women. However, obese women are at greater risk, and they also seem to have a higher risk following menopause.

Having an overweight condition.

People with obesity are more likely to develop Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is more likely to occur when a person is overweight, specifically when they have fat around their chin. When you have excess fat around your chin, your airways are more likely to become blocked. As we lay down, the fat around our chins will block our airways, resulting in Sleep Apnea. During sleep, the airways will be restricted, which means you’re going to take in less oxygen. Weight loss surgery is usually the most effective way for overweight individuals with this problem to lose weight.

Various medical conditions.

Some conditions that increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea include congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. The risk is also increased if you have polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal disorders, a prior stroke, or chronic lung disease, such as asthma.

Consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes.

Sleep Apnea is often caused by alcohol and smoking, which many people do not know about. Many people use alcohol as a depressant. Drinking alcohol can cause the upper airways to relax, resulting in the obstruction of the airways. If a person does not get enough air during the night, they may have hiccups and get up when they do. Smoking can cause the upper airways to swell, making this condition more likely to develop. If you have a sleep disorder, this will either exacerbate it or cause it.

Weighted Blanket for Sleep Apnea: Should You Use One?

In recent years, weighted blankets have become increasingly popular due to their many benefits. They are believed to treat ADHD, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome due to their ability to induce feelings of contentment and resemble a warm embrace. But can they help with sleep apnea? It might be helpful for you to use a weighted blanket to manage your condition. Discover if weighted blankets are right for sleep apnea and how they can help you.

Potential Benefits of Weighted Blankets for Sleep Apnea

Oxytocin Stimulation

The oxytocin hormone is also known as the “love hormone” because it is released during hugs and other acts of affection. There is a calming effect, and it is associated with a lower level of anxiety and stress. Those with higher oxytocin levels throughout the night experience fewer apneas. Getting cozy with your significant other at night may increase your oxytocin levels. If you are single or your partner’s movement at night disturbs you, you may not be able to accomplish that. With a weighted blanket, you can simulate the sensation of being hugged and stimulate oxytocin release.

Decrease Cortisol

The stress hormone cortisol puts your body into a flight-or-fight state, which is advantageous when faced with short-term danger. Cortisol levels over a long period can be harmful, however. All your muscles, including those that control your breathing, can become tense when under stress. Consequently, apneas could increase. Using a weighted blanket may reduce your cortisol levels and reduce your apneas.

Serotonin Production Increases

Sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety can result from inadequate serotonin levels. Researchers have discovered that deep pressure from weighted blankets promotes relaxation during the daytime, and nighttime, thereby increasing serotonin levels.

Aids in Breathing

An overactive nervous system’s effects are anxiety, hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. These factors can prevent you from sleeping. Weighted blankets activate the relaxing parasympathetic nervous system by distributing an even amount of weight and pressure throughout the body.

They Make You Sleepy

Many sleep apnea sufferers wake up multiple times during the night. Weighted blankets provide deep pressure stimulation to help you stay asleep and improve your sleep quality. A weighted blanket reduces the stress hormone (cortisol) and increases melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. As a consequence, sleep may be more restful.

Improve Your Sleep Position

It is best for people with sleep apnea to sleep on their sides because this allows them to breathe freely. If you want to learn how to side sleep, a weighted blanket may make it easier. Because weighted blankets add pressure to your body, they make you less likely to roll onto your back while sleeping.

Weighted blankets can serve many purposes in helping people with sleep apnea improve the quality of their sleep. A study shows, weighted blankets have been demonstrated to be highly effective in tackling sleeping disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can weighted blankets treat sleep apnea?

Researchers have shown that weighted blankets can boost oxytocin production. The hormone oxytocin causes you to feel calm and attached, much like when you receive a hug from a loved one. When the brain releases more oxytocin during the latter stages of sleep, oxytocin plays a pivotal role in the sleep-wake cycle. Some studies suggest that increasing oxytocin levels can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. As a result, your body and mind will have fewer interruptions during the night, which means fewer interruptions during the day.

Are weighted blankets safe for sleep apnea patients?

The decision is yours. Normally, weighted blankets are not recommended for Sleep Apnea patients. Weighted blankets can improve sleep quality for people with sleep apnea, but they should first check with their doctor before using them. However, if the person who uses the blanket has enough strength and physical agility to lift it off themselves, a weighted blanket is generally considered safe. This way, one can lift the blanket when needed to prevent suffocation or entrapment. Experts recommend avoiding weighted blankets if you’re unable to lift them, as the heavyweight may restrict airflow.

What is the Best Weighted Blanket for Sleep Apnea?

When choosing a weighted blanket, you should consider your own preferences and the weight of the blanket. Your blanket should be approximately 10% of your body weight. Weighted blankets typically range in weight from 7 pounds to 25 pounds and are available in standard bedding sizes such as twin, full, queen, and king. Sleep Apnea patients should experiment with various blankets before selecting the best one for them.

Conclusion

Weighted blankets can work the same way as deep pressure therapy. The blankets have proven beneficial for several health conditions, including anxiety, ADHD, and autism. Their use can ease a restless body, reduce anxious feelings, and help you sleep better. If you consider using a weighted blanket for sleep apnea, you should consult your doctor first. If your doctor approves of you sleeping with a weighted blanket, you should find one that meets all your needs.

Mike Horton (head of Weighted Living)

by Mike Horton

Mike is one of the lead editors at Weighted Living and the author of this article. He's become fascinated with weighted products (a bit too much we think) and loves to see all the different ways they can improve our loves. He's written quite a few weighted product guides as well.

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