In today’s fast-paced and technology-filled world, it is no surprise that people have difficulty in sleeping. Add in stress and high pressure from relationships, finances, and society, anyone can easily develop insomnia. Does a cup of chamomile tea, lavender oil massage or relaxing music helps you to relax but not enough to doze you off to slumber? Then, you might need another solution to help you get some zzz’s. You have weighted blankets to the rescue.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is a therapeutic tool that helps people with sleeping problems relax and get some sleep. Others call it a gravity blanket or pressure blanket. It mimics the feeling of being cuddled or swaddled, which signals the body to release oxytocin. As a result, the body relaxes, and stress lowers down.
Weighted blanket therapy is a good non-invasive and non-medicated form of therapy to calm down a person. Its use is an alternative way of solving sensory problems for individuals with:
- Sleeping Disorders: Insomnia, sleep apnea
- Sensory and Processing Disorders: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), tactile processing disorder, restless leg syndrome
- Anxiety Disorders: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression
- Pain Disorders: Fibromyalgia, arthritis
- General stress
The Benefits of Weighted Blankets
According to recent studies, weighted blankets create a warm, secure feeling from its heaviness. It uses the principle of deep touch stimulation therapy to help individuals. Here are five benefits that will convince you to try one now.
1. Regulates stress hormones
Weighted blankets use gentle pressure like that of a hug. As a result, it triggers the release of hormones, which helps a person cope with stress.
Dopamine and Serotonin
Also called the happy hormones, dopamine and serotonin help uplift a person’s mood, and relieve stress and anxiety. Studies also show that these happy hormones give a person a sense of fulfillment and pleasure.
Oxytocin is your love hormone. The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket helps with the release of oxytocin. Aside from promoting the feeling of warmth and happiness, blood pressure decreases, and muscles relax. Consequently, it also improves sleep and relaxation.
Studies show that weighted blankets also help with the reduction of cortisol release at night. Cortisol is a hormone that goes up along with stress. It triggers the increase in blood sugar and gastric acidity.
Melatonin is a hormone essential for the body’s sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. A weighted blanket helps the body to recognize that it is already sleeping time, thus triggering the release of melatonin. As a result, it regulates the circadian rhythm of the body, which helps a person sleep faster.
2. Promotes relaxation and calmness
Relaxation and calm are the most common results of weighted blanket use, along with the regulation of hormones. It helps decrease stress gradually until an anxious person fully calms down and falls asleep.
Weighted blankets are particularly effective for those with sensory and processing disorders like autism and tactile sensory disorder. According to recent research, weighted blankets reduce sensory stimulation while promoting the child’s sense of security. As a result, the child is less agitated and may calm down faster. Sleep quality also becomes better with weighted blankets.
3. Enhances sleep quality
Falling asleep fast is different from staying asleep until the body achieved full recovery from the activities of the past days. Being able to sleep through the night and feeling refreshed the next day means a person had good sleep quality.
The age group who has a compromised sleep quality are the elderly. The elderly tend to nap at long hours in the morning or afternoon and have difficulty sleeping at night. Additionally, some also suffer from anxiety and depression, which makes it more challenging to catch sleep. According to reviews, there is a dramatic improvement in elderly people’s sleep quality with the use of weighted blankets. With the right size and weight, it gives them a feeling of security that helps them sleep faster and longer.
4. Lowers anxiety
Weighted blankets trigger the release of happy hormones. Because of this, mood improves, anxiety lowers down, and calmness starts. Here are some anxiety disorders that weighted blankets help to ease.
Traveling may be fun for many people but not to all. Some have travel anxiety, which makes it difficult for them to calm down during a trip. It may be during a flight, a boat ride, or a road trip. As weighted blankets are portable and comfortable, they help decrease the stress and anxiety of a person with travel anxiety. Serotonin is released, which helps the individual to calm down.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder experienced by a person who has undergone a traumatic situation like war, crime, or violence. Studies show that weighted blankets reduce anxiety and promote better sleep for those with PTSD.
5. Relieves pain
Studies showed that 20 lb weighted blanket has also helped to ease various levels and types of pain. Some of the participants experience significant relief that they stopped taking painkillers. Laboratory and diagnostic tests revealed an increase in serotonin and dopamine levels, which helps lowers stress and pain.
One of the most common pain disorders is fibromyalgia. It affects women more than men. Fibromyalgia pain is so severe that it can hinder a person’s activities of daily living. This disorder involves the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease, and as of today, there is no cure yet.
Weighted blankets have shown promising results to decrease fibromyalgia pain. The firm and balanced pressure of weighted blankets improve the muscles’ sensory stimulation, which decreases the body’s pain perception. Pain reduction in fibromyalgia patients helps them perform activities better.
6. Decreases panic attacks
Panic attacks come from heightened anxiety and stress. You cannot simply control the attacks as they may come in anytime. Lack of sleep increases the chance of panic attacks. Weighted blankets help you get better sleep, which aids you to recover and feel renewed for the next day. Moreover, with the regulation of neurotransmitters and happy hormones, the risk for panic attacks become exponentially lower.
In conclusion, a weighted blanket uses deep pressure stimulation therapy to soothe and calm individuals who are stressed, anxious, in pain, or have difficulty sleeping. It aims to decrease the tension and restlessness of a person, which makes it challenging for them to calm down and sleep.