If sleep suffers, so will your metabolism. If sleep suffers, so will the quality of your life. It’s estimated that roughly 50-70 million US adults have some sleep disorder (insomnia, restless sleep).
Within the first week working with me, I end up covering the nighttime routine and sleep habits of my clients. Having them reflect on the following:
What are you typically doing the hour before you go to bed?
How much are you exposed to blue light (via phones, computers)?
How would you rate your sleep on a scale of 1-10 (1= terrible; 10= I wake up feeling refreshed)?
Sleep is as much a priority, if not more, for someone to be successful in a wellness/health program. What we eat, how we move, how we’re prioritizing our happiness and how we’re sleeping are ALL important.
If you’ve ever embarked on a fitness program without reflecting on recovery (sleep and stress management strategies) you may have noticed feeling burnt out, losing motivation, not making progress, getting injured or feeling more and more disengaged within your program.
Sleep helps aid in recovery, via cellular repair. Sleep helps repair a slow metabolism. Sleep is closely linked to maintaining metabolic homeostasis (the ebb and flow and balance of hormones in the body). Sleep helps combat PMS symptoms. Sleep allows you to make progress. Sleep minimizes stress and helps manage anxiety. So you see? Sleep is a powerful tool to implement.
Ok, so now that we’ve covered some key reasons to prioritize sleep, let’s chat more about my experiment with weighted blankets.
The further I researched about weighted blankets the more and more I saw an opportunity for this to be an additional tool to give clients.
Weighted blankets, are exactly as they sound: they’re heavy blankets.
Weighted blankets are one of the most powerful tools to utilize if you can relate to any of the following:
Feeling disconnected from your body
Never really feeling grounded
Sensory Processing Disorders (poor postural control or strength, fatigue, poor balance)
So what’s the science behind weighted blankets?
Well, many describe it as giving yourself a hug all night. The weight of something being wrapped around you, for many, can feel almost immediately relieving by increasing a sense of proprioception (awareness of where we are in space) via pressure.
Research shows that weighted blankets help stimulate “Deep Touch Pressure”. DTP, is a form of sensory input. The body has sensory receptors that travel from our skin up to our nervous system. These receptors play a critical role in our individual experiences of life, and especially in regards to the following symptoms listed above.
Our brain is constantly working to help identify how safe an environment is for our survival. For many, increasing sensory receptor feedback can often reduce any signs of “threat” or feelings of being “unsafe”. As a result, we feel more relaxed due to the sensory receptor feedback (weight, texture, temperature of the blanket on our body). The relaxation can also be attributed to a nice dose of serotonin (chemical in the body that promotes relaxation).
For those who struggle with feeling “grounded” (a feeling as though you spend your day “outside” or disconnected from your body), this helps activate the insular cortex. The insular cortex plays a role in the following:
Perception and level of pain
“Interoceptive awareness”: the ability to be consciously aware of bodily states, such as having to use the bathroom, hunger, or thirsty. Interoceptive awareness plays a key role in homeostasis, which is vital for survival.
Motor Control: moving joints and limbs
Emotions like happiness or anger
I want to mention that an exploration of the questions at the beginning of this blog are worthy of taking the time to reflect on. A combination of addressing your sleep habits WITH strategies like weighted blankets have the potential to extremely improve one’s sleep and this one’s metabolic function.
If you’re looking to explore weighted blankets, I’d suggest Gravity Blankets. However, if you’re on a budget, I also linked the one I tried out from ZonLi. You'll also want to be sure to purchase the appropriate weight for your body weight. A general rule of thumb, is to stick to 10% of your body weight.
In conclusion, sleep can catapult you into healing your metabolism, but if sleep is compromised, you must start there, not the gym.
I linked a handful of useful articles and studies that will help you explore this journey towards learning more about your brain and body.