It used to be something that came to me as natural as breathing. Now, it eludes me, and I struggle to get the rest my body needs.
My body is exhausted, but my mind does not agree. I think about what I should have done that day but didn’t get to and what I need to do tomorrow. Something always keeps the hamster running on the wheel.
Eventually, my mind cooperates, but sometimes it is too late. My legs wake up, they “jig and jive,” and anxiety follows. Sleep and anxiety are not friends. They do not peacefully coexist.
After reading good things about sleep and weighted blankets, I purchased one. Weighted blankets are promoted as having calming and beneficial effects for ADHD, autism, and many other conditions including Parkinson’s. My hope was to find relief for my restless legs and the anxiety that comes with them.
If you are unfamiliar with weighted blankets, they are weighted with glass beads, plastic pellets, or other fillers. The blanket provides gentle pressure over your body. In a way, it feels like a hug. The effect can be both comforting and calming.
The concept sounds simple. However, I quickly discovered a few things with my first blanket that led to the purchase of my second blanket.
All weighted blankets are not created equal and they are not “one size fits all.”
So, how do you know which blanket will work best for you?
Let’s start with weight. Experts recommend a blanket that is approximately 10 percent of your body weight. Adjust the weight to feel comfortable. For example, if you find it difficult to roll over or if you feel trapped, a lighter blanket may be better for you.
Different designs also are available. The design and stitching are important. Look for a blanket designed with beads sewn into separate sections. This will distribute the weight evenly.
Some blankets, like my first one, appear to have separate sections but they are not sewn shut. The beads and the weight become concentrated in one area. The blanket becomes difficult to maneuver and uncomfortable. Like me, you will find yourself buying a second blanket.
Once you find the right blanket, it can be a great sleeping aid for the entire night or for a power nap. However, be patient. It takes some time to adjust to the weight.
In the beginning, I only covered my legs. Each night, I pulled the blanket a little higher to cover more of my body. I was completely under the blanket in a few days. I was comfortable and benefiting from the gentle pressure it provided. The blanket has become an essential tool in my Parkinson’s toolbox.
From my personal experience, there is one last piece of advice worth mentioning. Stand next to the bed, spread out the blanket, crawl in, and cover up. Attempting to spread out the blanket while sitting in bed may result with both you and the blanket on the floor.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
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