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 as simple as sleeping with weighted blankets help reduce stress, anxiety, insomnia, and more?
Well, weighted blankets exert pressure on the body, which serves as a form of deep therapy putting the body in “rest” mode.
Table of Contents
- Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How Does It Work?
- Benefits of Weighted Blankets
- How to Use Weighted Blankets
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. Similar to getting a massage, pressure exerted over the body has physical and psychological advantages.
According to Temple Grandin, Ph.D.,
“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. Karen Moore, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Franconia, N.H says,
“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.”
Weighted Blankets Molds the Body Like a Warm Hug
The pressure from a weighted blanket helps relax the nervous system. It’s a totally safe and effectie non-drug therapy for sleep and relaxation naturally.
Many 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.
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 Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets have a lot of benefits. Some of these many benefits include but are not limited to the following.
1. Helps With Anxiety and Depression
Weighted blankets are especially effective at alleviating anxiety and are a safe and effective therapeutic tool for decreasing anxiety in patients. According to one study, using weighted blankets significantly reduced anxiety in patients receiving inpatient care.
Cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy are more likely to experience anxiety over time. Chemotherapy patients who use therapeutic weighted blankets of conventional weight report feeling less anxious, demonstrating the effectiveness of this straightforward technique.
2. Provides Comfort
Weighted blankets are said to make people feel snug and cozy. Many people find these blankets help them doze off more quickly by promoting a sense of security. They also often report a calming modality.
3. Aids Sleep
Various studies have found that between 50 and 70 million Americans experience chronic sleep and wakefulness problems. This makes it difficult for these individuals to carry out daily tasks and harms their health and longevity.
The use of weighted blankets can help relieve these sleeping and waking issues. They particular help with people experiencing sleeping issues due to psychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
4. Improves Focus in People With ADHD and ASD
People with ADHD are often distracted by things happening in their surroundings such as other people’s conversations or something happening outdoors. It’s more difficult for them to concentrate on what they want to. Also, people with ASD find social interaction quite challenging as they find it hard to focus on tasks.
These things lead to stress and anxiety, which are often accompanied by sleep problems thereby influencing social, emotional, and cognitive functioning in everyday activities.
A study found that the ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and unwind during the day were all improved by a weighted blanket. The morning and evening routines, including getting ready for bed and sleeping, as well as getting out of bed, were also enhanced by using a weighted blanket.
5. Lessens the Sensation of Pain
Research suggests that about 50 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pains. These pains often interrupt the daily activities of the individuals.
However, weighted blankets can help in relieving the sensation of pain through a therapeutic method known as deep touch pressure stimulation. This therapeutic method activates the nervous system, helping you forget about the discomfort by calming the stress response and putting your mind and body at ease.
6. Helps With Other Mental Health Conditions
Depression, anxiety, aggression, OCD, PTSD, and bipolar 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.
Weighted blankets have reportedly helped patients suffering from many different diseases and conditions, including autism, Tourette syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cerebral Palsy, restless leg syndrome, and 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.
Experts recommend seeking the guidance of a doctor or occupational therapist if you have a medical condition. Do not use weighted blankets if you currently suffer from a respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problem or are recuperating post-surgery.
Weighted blankets are available in different weights, sizes, and colors. They ease psychological symptoms and provide an at-home remedy for chronic pains.
These blankets also help in improving your mood, which can be beneficial to your mental health. Using a weighted blanket is a simple change that can make a huge difference in your life, so get one for yourself today!
Don't have time for the full article? Read this.
A weighted blanket is not a normal blanket or quilt that you take at night—it is heavier than your usual blanket.
Deep pressure touch stimulation (or DPTS) is a type of therapy that almost anyone can benefit from. A weighted blanket puts pressure on the body and works like a warm hug, which aids in relaxing the nervous system.
Weighted blankets use the weight of plastic poly pellets; they are present in the blanket compartments evenly to apply equal weight overall.
Depression, anxiety, aggression, OCD, PTSD, and bipolar disorder have all been linked to low serotonin levels in the brain, which weighted blankets are reported to assist with. They also help with insomnia, dementia, ADHD, autism, and chronic pain.
The weight of the blanket will depend on your weight and personal choice, but the typical weight of the blanket for adults is around 15 to 30 pounds.
Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com