Advertising
Advertising

Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Make It Work

Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Make It Work

Messed up sleep can create a long list of secondary issues that can quickly become primary concerns if insomnia or other disturbances continue untreated.

Lack of sleep, whether it’s medically related or anxiety-driven, can throw off your normal functioning during the day. Concentration becomes difficult, productivity at work or school begins to suffer, irritability can have you lashing out at family and friends, and you also become at risk for serious health issues like heart attacks.

How can something so simple as sleeping with weighted blankets be a solution to stress, anxiety, insomnia and more?

Weighted blanket for anxiety and insomnia: how does it work?

Deep pressure touch stimulation (or DPTS) is a type of therapy that almost anyone can benefit from.[1] Similar to getting a massage, pressure exerted over the body has physical and psychological advantages.

According to Temple Grandin, Ph.D.:[2]

Advertising

“Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling. Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.”

Traditionally, weighted blankets are used as part of occupational therapy for children experiencing sensory disorders, anxiety, stress or issues related to autism.[3] Karen Moore, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Franconia, N.H says,[4]

“In psychiatric care, weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.”

A weighted blanket molds to your body like a warm hug

The pressure from a weighted blanket helps relax the nervous system.[5] It’s a totally safe and effective non-drug therapy for sleep and relaxation naturally.

Psychiatric, trauma, geriatric and pediatric hospital units use weighted blankets to calm a patient’s anxiety and promote deep and restful sleep. In a similar way to swaddling comforting an infant, the weight and pressure on an adult provides comfort and relief.

Advertising

The pressure encourages mood-lifting hormones

When pressure is gently applied to the body, it encourages serotonin production, which lifts your mood. When serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, your body takes the cue to rest.

Weighted blankets are typically “weighted” with plastic poly pellets that are sewn into compartments throughout the blanket to keep the weight properly distributed. The weight of the blanket acts as deep touch therapy and acts on deep pressure touch receptors located all over your body.

When these receptors are stimulated, the body relaxes and feels more grounded and safe, and clinical studies suggest that when deep pressure points are triggered they actually cause the brain to increase serotonin production.

Benefits of weighed blankets

Weighted blankets are especially effective at alleviating anxiety. A 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health showed that weighted blankets offered safe and effective therapy for decreasing anxiety in patients. These results were confirmed in a 2012 study published in Australasian Psychiatry, which indicated that weighted blankets successfully decreased distress and visible signs of anxiety.

Depression, anxiety, aggression, OCD, PTSD, and bi-polar disorder have all been linked to low serotonin levels in the brain, which weighted blankets are reported to assist with. In addition, people battling with depression, mania, anxiety, trauma and paranoia, or undergoing detoxification have reported relief from symptoms.

Advertising

Weighted blankets have reportedly helped patients suffering from a lot of different diseases and disorders, from autism, to Tourette’s, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, and even can help alleviate menopausal symptoms.

How to use weighted blankets

The weight of the blanket will depend on your size and personal preference, but the typical weight for adults is around 15 to 30 pounds in the blanket. Here’s a recommendation on how heavy the blanket should be for different people:[6]

    Experts recommend seeking the guidance of a doctor or occupational therapist if you have a medical condition. Do not use weighted blankets if you are currently suffering from a respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problem, or are recuperating post surgery.

    Where to get a good weighted blanket

    There are many website where you can purchase a weighted blanket in tons of choices of fabric and weight.

    There are specifically blanket shops such as Magic Blanket, created by product developer, Keith Zivalich in California, which have children’s blankets that are 36 inches wide, and adult blankets, which run 42 inches across.

    Another good option is Mosaic Weighted Blankets which sells all-cotton versions.

    Advertising

    Therapy and special needs stores like National Autism Resources also sells weighted blanket. Amazon, Etsy and Ebay all sell them as well.

    Or you can even make your own like this:

    You can find weighted blankets in a variety of sizes, colors, and fabrics. Using weighted blanket is a simple change that can improve your mental health and make a huge difference in your life. Start looking for (or making) one that suits you most!

    Reference

    More by this author

    Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Make It Work 10 Things to Expect When You Move in Together How to Pick the Best Food for Your Dog 5 Myths About Whole Life Insurance Debunked 7 Great Tips for Training Your Dog

    Trending in Health

    1How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine 28 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian 310 Amazing Health Benefits Of Beer 4Say Goodbye to a Skinny Body: How to Gain Weight Fast 520 Medical Benefits of Marijuana You Probably Never Knew

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

    How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

    Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

    But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

    Sight – Visual Stimulation

    The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

    1. Maximize your exposure to light.

    Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

    Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

    2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

    Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

    Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

    Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

    3. Take note of your environment.

    Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

    By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

    Advertising

    Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

    What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

    4. Engage in conversation.

    Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

    Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

    Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

    Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

    5. Listen to upbeat music.

    Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

    Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

    Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

    If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

    6. Work your nose.

    Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

    If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

    Advertising

    Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

    Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

    If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

    7. Have a good breakfast.

    Start off with the most important meal of the day.

    Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

    Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

    Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

    20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

    8. Drink lots of water.

    Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

    So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

    How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

    Advertising

    Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

    3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

    9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

    Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

    Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

    Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

    25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

    Touch – Tactile Stimulation

    Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

    10. Splash cold water on your face.

    Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

    This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

    5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

    Advertising

    11. Use acupressure.

    Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

    Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

    12. Get moving.

    Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

    And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

    You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

    Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

    Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Read Next