How to properly use an electric blanket
according to dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert and author of How to sleep well, In order to sleep well, your body temperature needs to drop. It falls throughout the night, with the nadir being reached between 2am and 4am.
“My advice is that you need a cool bedroom and a warm bed. Going into a cold bed can be perceived as a threat by your brain and body, increasing alertness.”
dr Stanley says turning on an electric blanket about half an hour before bed should make it perfectly cozy to get in so you can fall asleep naturally, but set it to turn off some time after nodding off. All the blankets I tested were able to warm up the bed in 30 minutes or less and cost less than 3p at today’s prices.
What makes a good electric blanket?
Better blankets have elasticated edging, but cheaper models use straps that can be fiddly. Other timing options and heat settings can also make a difference. The best electric blankets allow you to set different temperatures for your upper and lower body (since feet tend to get colder). If you sleep with a partner, pay attention to the dual control function, which allows you to heat one side of the bed independently of the other.
Price wise you’re looking at around £40-50 for a basic option; £60-80 for something a little more high tech; and over £100 for the best blankets. All of the models tested here are for a double bed, although they come in other sizes and each is machine washable. There is little to worry about in terms of safety, but look out for approval from the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB).
Here’s what I found after several nights testing the best electric blankets, starting with my favorite. (And if you’re looking for other ways to improve your sleep this winter, the next thing you might consider is upgrading your pillow).
How does an electric blanket work?
High-resistance wires—often made of carbon fiber these days—heat up when an electric current is passed through them. The heat is transferred to the bedding itself via a fireproof plastic coating. Your blanket comes with a plug (or two if it’s a dual control) that usually extends to about a meter. Secure it to your mattress with the straps or elasticated border, drape your sheet over it, and then make your bed as usual. Make sure your duvet covers the bed completely so as not to dissipate heat.
Then switch it on via the control panel (or your smartphone) and choose between heating levels and – with the better models – a time.
How safe is an electric blanket?
While old electric blankets were considered a fire hazard, new models simply are not. Your blanket should have passed BEAB tests and have an automatic shut-off or overheat protection. Some are even machine washable without damaging the product.
However, Page does offer some behavioral advice: “Be careful with liquids in bed, and having your pets sleep in bed with you is a bit of a question mark in case they chew the wires.”
Are there any health benefits?
While the health benefits shouldn’t be overstated, you may find that an electric blanket can relieve some of the pain if you’re suffering from a condition like arthritis or poor circulation.
“We’ve had people with arthritis or back pain who say it has relieved those symptoms,” Page says. Stanley agrees, “If you have circulatory problems or medical conditions that make you feel cold, it could be beneficial.”