Did you know there are many weighted blanket benefits from better sleep to improving your mood? This guide covers the numerous reasons why weighted blankets are growing in popularity with all ages – not just kids.
What Are Weighted Blankets?
Sometimes referred to as gravity blankets, weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets that are weighted using plastic pellets, steel or glass beads. They usually weigh around 5-30 pounds and can offer a whole range of benefits for all ages.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Thanks to the additional weight creating pressure, this imitates a therapeutic technique known as DPS (deep pressure stimulation.) Essentially, they are hugs in blanket form as the firm yet gentle pressure helps to relax the nervous system.
An American scientist, Mary Temple Grandin first discovered the benefits of deep pressure therapy in reducing anxiety when she worked with children on the autistic spectrum. Her goal was to create a “Hug Machine” that mimicked hugs in order to apply gentle pressure but not feel restrictive.
She found in doing so, that her patients released oxytocin. The therapy then triggered a chain reaction around the body to create an overall sense of calm and peace.This is where the idea of weighted blankets came from. They too apply light pressure and boost oxytocin similar to the “Hug Machine.”
Alongside oxytocin, deep pressure therapy has been known to increase dopamine and serotonin. This boost in feel-good hormones heightens a sense of happiness and well-being.
Who Can Use Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets have been used to aid symptoms of numerous health issues and conditions in both adults and children. This includes those on the autism spectrum, children with sensory processing issues, anxiety suffers, those will sleep issues and more.
Are Weighted Blankets Safe?
They are generally considered safe, as long as the user is strong enough to physically lift the blanket off without help. A weighted blanket may be unsuitable for those with certain medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, low blood pressure, and claustrophobia. While there are weighted blankets designed for children they should not be used by toddlers due to the risk of entrapment.
7 Benefits of Weighted Blankets
The effectiveness of weighted blankets has been studied by many researchers, and although more research is needed, the studies so far have highlighted there may be benefits for many conditions. Whether stress is making you toss and turn at night, or your kids struggle to focus, the benefits of a weighted blanket could result in a calmer, happier household. Benefits of weighted blankets include:
1. Create a Sense of Calm
Users of weighted blankets have reported a sense of calm which has inspired those who suffer with stress or anxiety to give one a go. An overactive nervous system doesn’t only contribute to anxiety, but it can lead to hyperactivity in children as well as a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath.
Thanks to distributing an even weight across the body, a weighted blanket can help calm the nervous system and the body’s fight or flight response.
This makes a weighted blanket ideal for students when studying for exams, relaxing after a stressful day’s work, encouraging calm for meditation, and inducing sleep before bed.
2. Help to Destress and Improve Mood
Although I love using my Biomat to destress, one of the most notable weighted blanket benefits is improving your mood. Whether you’re having a tough day, stressed from work or you’re struggling to switch off for bed, a weighted blanket can help to melt away your worries.
This is because not only does it boost the feel-good hormone oxytocin, but in doing so it helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been shown in studies to negatively affect blood sugar as well as digestion and the immune system.
3. Improve Sleep
The hormone serotonin helps to regulate sleep and influences your depth of sleep. It is believed deep pressure touch from weighted blankets encourages the release of serotonin, therefore is an ideal natural and inexpensive sleeping aid.
According to a recent study by Swedish researchers, weighted blankets improved sleep in people with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and ADHD.
In the study, 120 people were given either a weighted blanket or light blanket. Four weeks later, those using the weighted blanket reported less reduced fatigue as well as less insomnia, anxiety and depression symptoms.
If you have persistent sleeping issues, it is advised to speak with your doctor as they will be able to best assess your sleep pattern and determine if a weighted blanket could be an effective approach.
4. Boost Melatonin
Not only do weighted blankets stimulate serotonin but also the hormone melatonin. Melatonin occurs naturally in the body and helps to control sleep patterns.
Both adults and children who struggle to regulate their sleep cycle or suffer with insomnia can be prescribed a manmade melatonin supplement. However, a weighted blanket offers a more long term, natural alternative.
This makes them ideal for travel if your kids struggle to fall asleep in new environments (hotel rooms for example) as they help to soothe and induce sleep. In 2015 a study from the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found that a weighted blanket helped those with insomnia sleep better, simply because it helped them feel more settled before bed.
5. Help to Alleviate Menopause Symptoms
On the topic of sleep, many women who go through menopause find that they experience sleep disruptions, usually caused by night sweats, hot flushes and premature waking. Menopausal women have also reported feeling anxious as well as symptoms of depression.
You may be thinking weighted blankets and night sweats sound like a nightmare combo, but as the weight helps to calm the nervous system this can help to regulate the body’s temperature. Therefore overall, the deep touch pressure relief of a weighted blanket can help to alleviate these menopause symptoms.
6. Provide Comfort and Security
In the same way we swaddle newborns to help them feel snug and secure, a weighted blanket can provide the same comfort and security.
Whether it’s your grumpy boss or rush hour traffic that is leaving you feeling frantic, using weighted blanket therapy can help calm you mentally and physically.
Best of all you can use it however you wish whether snuggled up on the sofa or in bed as a duvet. To feel extra snug and secure, it’s recommended you have the blanket up to your chest while sleeping on your back.
7. Help with Focus and Concentration
Distractions are constant in our day-to-day lives which can make everyday tasks difficult for both the young and old. Over the years, educators and occupational therapists have encouraged the use of weighted vests, blankets, and lap pads for those who struggle to focus.
While you can also try essential oils for focus and concentration, it is believed that the firm yet gentle pressure helps relieve stress and anxiety, keeping you focused on the task at hand.
Top Tips For Choosing The Right Weighted Blanket
- Always consult your pediatrician before purchasing a weighted blanket for your child. It is not advised to let children under 2 years old use a weighted blanket.
- If a blanket is heavier, this won’t mean it is more effective. A blanket heavier than 35 pounds is more likely to cause discomfort than relief. This is because it will feel restrictive and cause your body temperature to rise.
- As a general guide, it is suggested to purchase a weighted blanket that is 10% of your body weight. It is best to consult your doctor beforehand to make sure you are choosing the correct size for your needs.
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