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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?
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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
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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