Could a Weighted Blanket Help Manage Your Diabetes Symptoms?
Weighted blankets have grown in popularity, but are they right for those with diabetes?
There are more than 37 million Americans currently living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. If you’re one of them, you know that the added daily pressures that come with controlling blood sugar and effectively managing the disease can sometimes feel daunting.
Let’s face it, there are times when it can feel downright overwhelming. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes are 20% more likely to experience some form of anxiety in their lives than people without the disease.
We’ve even posted about the link between stress and diabetes in our own Diabetic Warehouse blogs and offered up some tips on ways to help manage diabetes-related anxiety, but there’s one “stress-reducing” tool that’s growing in popularity that we haven’t touched upon and that’s the use of weighted blankets.
What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket is a blanket that contains weighted beads or pellets that add pressure to the body of the person using it. These blankets can weigh anywhere from a modest five pounds all the way up to 30 pounds.
The science behind weighted blankets is called Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) and it involves applying light or moderate pressure equally across the body to alleviate anxiety and promote calm. Proponents of weighted blankets suggest that DPS allows the body to switch from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is associated with the fight or flight response, to the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is associated with rest and digestion. Thus, allowing the user to fall into a more relaxed state.
In layman’s terms, think of a weighted blanket as a comforting hug. Something that provides reassurance, calm, and a grounded sense of well-being.
Why would I need a weighted blanket?
Most of the wellness and relaxation claims associated with weighted blankets have yet to be scientifically confirmed. However, due to their increasing popularity more research is being done into the potential benefits of weighted blankets.
Ask most enthusiasts, and you’ll hear a slew of great reasons to consider weighted blankets to relieve many stress-related conditions. These include:
Many people claim that weighted blankets can provide immediate relief from general anxiety. In fact, some studies have been done and found that weighted blankets may be a useful therapeutic tool to relieve anxiety, though further research needs to be done to substantiate this claim.
Most of us know that lack of sleep can do a number on blood sugar, causing it to elevate and making controlling our diabetes an even bigger challenge. Additionally, feeling exhausted can make it far easier for us to become lax when it comes to our diabetes management program, including sticking to our dietary and exercise regimens.
A lot of people tout the sleep benefits of weighted blankets, claiming they promote sound rest throughout the night. It’s important to note, however, that a systematic review done by the National Institutes of Health suggests there is insufficient evidence at this time to determine the validity of weighted blankets in relation to insomnia.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition that causes a person to feel an overwhelming desire or need to move their legs. RLS is typically worse at night, specifically during sleeping hours. This, of course, causes a person to experience a lack of sleep, which can be detrimental to blood sugar control.
So why wouldn’t I try a weighted blanket?
Given the strong word-of-mouth, it might seem logical for those with diabetes who experience anxiety or insomnia to give weighted blankets a try. But, as with many things regarding our health, those of us with diabetes need to consider things those without the disease don’t have to worry about.
When it comes to weighted blankets, this consideration is the impact they might have on circulation. You’re probably aware that diabetes can lead to problems with circulation, often due to damage to the blood vessels caused by prolonged high blood sugar.
If you experience circulatory issues, the added pressure on your body when using a weighted blanket might exacerbate the condition, further inhibiting blow flow. Clearly, worsening one health condition to alleviate another isn’t the best medicine.
As with diabetes, weighted blankets may also cause difficulties for those who suffer from asthma, sleep apnea, and claustrophobia.
Can I try a weighted blanket?
If you experience diabetic neuropathy or have been diagnosed with circulatory issues due to your diabetes, it’s probably not a wise idea to consider a weighted blanket. Instead, try some other stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi.
However, if your blood sugar is under control, you’re consistently within your target range when you test each day, and you are not experiencing any serious diabetes-related complications, a weighted blanket might be a perfectly safe and sound option.
The best thing you can do, as with any addition to your diabetes management and lifestyle program, is consult with your diabetes physician and care team. They’ll surely be able to tell you whether it’s safe to try a weighted blanket and whether they think you might see any anxiety-reducing benefits.
More research needs to be done before we can make any firm claims about how weighted blankets impact stress, anxiety, and healthy sleep. Still, it’s difficult to discount the praises of so many individuals who firmly tout the results they personally experience.
Regardless, as someone living with diabetes, you must be cautious and that means speaking with your doctor before trying a weighted blanket. When it comes to diabetes management – you’re always better being safe than sorry.
We hope you found this post informative and insightful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to helping those with diabetes control blood sugar and avoid diabetes-related complications with a complete selection of testing and treatment supplies at prices up to 65% less than those found at most pharmacies and suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.