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Sleeping Like a Baby

Counting sheep may work for some people, but for others, falling (and staying) asleep is a problem with seemingly no solution. The Center for Sleep Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reports that more than 10 percent of the population is affected by a sleep disorder, while the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that as many as 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems—adding a whopping $15.9 billion to the national healthcare bill.

Effective treatments for sleep disorders have proven elusive. From trying prescription medications to attending therapy to undergoing alternative treatments like hypnosis, suffers have spent innumerable waking hours in pursuit of a good night's sleep.

However, those solutions bring with them their own problems.

"Drugs are often addictive or have side effects, and psychological/behavioral methods require long treatment sessions and it may take time to achieve satisfactory results," according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders. "Hence, there is a need for additional, simpler methods to promote and maintain better sleep."

That simpler method could have been right in front of sufferers — or, more accurately, right on top of them — all along. The blanket you use at night can actually affect how you sleep, and one type, in particular, has proven to be effective at helping bring on the Sandman: weighted blankets.

Weighted blankets work by applying an even amount of pressure over a person's body while they sleep. Pellets evenly distributed within the blanket give it a weight that is roughly 10 percent of the user's body weight, and gravity causes the blanket to mold to the shape of their body while they sleep.

The resulting pressure acts like a form of deep touch therapy, increasing the body's serotonin levels, which, in turn, creates melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It's kind of the same concept behind swaddling a baby to help them sleep.

Unfortunately, society at large hasn’t had access to the benefits of deep pressure stimulation. To that end, the Gravity Blanket recently launched on Kickstarter in order to give access to all individuals.

The Science of Sleep

In a study of otherwise healthy adults complaining of chronic insomnia, researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, noted that "when the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep, with a decrease in movements. Subjectively, they believed that using the blanket provided them with a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep."

In fact, this improved sleep can literally be the difference (in some instances) between life and death. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies have show that sleep deficiency impairs driving ability as much as, or even more than, being drunk. In fact, driver sleepiness is a factor in an estimated 100,000 car accidents annually, resulting in approximately 1,500 deaths.

Even if you never get behind the wheel, not getting enough good sleep can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. Sleep problems have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity, as well as mood swings, depression, and suicide.

Conversely, getting the right amount of good sleep can help your body heal and repair heart and blood vessels, regulate hormone levels, and battle illnesses. It also leads to improved problem solving, creativity, and memory.

With so much riding on your ability to get a good night's rest, a Gravity Blanket could be worth its weight in gold. You can learn more about the science behind proprioceptive input, and select a blanket, here.

Futurism has partnered with Gravity Products LLC to bring you this exclusive product.

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