Benefits of using a Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets have become popular in recent years as a therapeutic aid for adults. They work by stimulating the body’s sensory points to release serotonin and dopamine.They are especially beneficial for people suffering from sleep-related disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or mental ailments such as anxiety and depression. Deep pressure touch (DPT) is therapeutic in many ways and can help you stay relaxed and rejuvenated. However, when using DPT-based products such as weighted blankets you need to exercise a bit of caution mainly due to the added weight of these products.
Weighted blanket benefits are endless. These special blankets are likened to a saving grace for people who suffer from emotional and mental health disorders. Whether you’re ailing from depression, insomnia, anxiety or stress, weighted blankets are highly comforting. Nowadays, even healthy individuals are opting for the best weighted blankets, bearing in mind their varied health-linked benefits.
- Benefits of using a Weighted Blanket
- Why deep sleep is important?
- What is a Weighted Blanket?
- What does a weighted blanket do?
- How does a weighted blanket work?
- Why you need a Weighted Blanket?
- How to use a weighted blanket?
- Weighted Blanket Benefits
- Do weighted blankets really work?
- Are Weighted Blankets safe?
- Do weighted blankets actually work?
- What the Research Shows about Weighted Blankets
- Should you use a weighted blanket if you have asthma?
- What are the negatives of weighted blankets?
- Should you use a weighted blanket if you have arthritis?
- Do you have to sleep on your back with a weighted blanket?
- Try a weighted stuffed animal
Why deep sleep is important?
Recent research studies suggest that going into deep sleep is extremely important. You can improve your overall wellbeing if you enjoy deep sleep during nighttime. Deep sleep helps in the body repairing process, boosts immunity, revitalizes the body cells, among other health-related advantages.
Not all sleep is equal. The experts say that deep sleep should compose 10 to 20 percent of your sleep. Sleeping well has a variety of benefits, they help in greater cognitive functions, you can improve your productivity at work. The experts suggest keeping a regular sleep schedule – notwithstanding weekdays or weekends – to get better deep sleep.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets weigh heavier than your normal blankets. They are an innovative concept for inducing relaxation of the body. The general recommendation is to go with the ones that weigh around 7-12% of your body weight but it also depends on the person using it.
They are stuffed with weighted materials for their heaviness. These include glass micro-beads, plastic pellets, and discs. The fillings are uniformly distributed over the surface of the blanket, providing the ideal weight for the entire body.
Weighted blankets are different from your oversized comforters or quilts. They contain several pockets which have weighted objects like pellets or beads for bulking them. The separate pockets are darned together, similar to a patchwork quilt. In turn, they distribute the small-sized weights evenly throughout the body.
The uniformly-distributed weight rouses the pressure points across the body, propelling the calming of the nervous system. The soothing effects of gravity blankets on the nervous system is what helps in coping with the sensory-linked and anxiety issues that are caused by the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Moreover, this sense of calm drives the body into restful sleep.
Some varieties of weighted comforters are composed of softer materials (such as cotton) and look like conventional duvets. Many people prefer cotton weighted blankets for their breathability aspects.
What does a weighted blanket do?
The concept of weighted blankets is based on Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) or Deep pressure Stimulation (DTS). Due to the weighted physical force of such blankets, the body tends to relax while drifting into restful sleep.
What is Deep Touch Pressure?
Weighted blankets are effective for they apply the concept of Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation, they put adequate pressure for eliciting the nerve endings beneath our skin. The arousal of the nerve endings leads to successive actions within the nervous system. DTP lowers blood-pressure levels and heart rate and also the heaviness of the blanket restricts your movements. All these factors create a suitable atmosphere for the body to enter into ‘deep sleep’ mode.
How does a weighted blanket work?
Because of the weight of weighted blankets, the sympathetic system tends to shut down while letting the parasympathetic nervous system take over. As such, the body comes to a stage of rest and digest. In turn, the body releases a host of hormones, as seen below:
- Serotonin: a hormone that enriches the mood and controls anxiety and depression symptoms
- Dopamine: a hormone that manages attention span, memory, motivation, and pleasure
- Oxytocin: a hormone that helps the body to adjust to emotional upheavals
- Melatonin: the sleep-inducing hormone. Higher melatonin levels in the brain help to restore the body’s natural circadian rhythms while facilitating sleep.
Why you need a Weighted Blanket?
The Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) promotes better sleep. It is proven that applying DTP to the body triggers hormones which are responsible for sleep and relaxation. This is what makes weighted blankets life saving for people who just needs some rest or for children with conditions like autism, since they tend to have lower serotonin levels.
So why you need a weighted blanket? Weighted blankets for adults are able to offer other benefits. like deeper, higher quality sleep, improved stress and anxiety. It is also good for those suffering from aggression, depression, and other mood disorders.
How to use a weighted blanket?
The medical experts suggest using a weighted blanket for individuals suffering from psychological disorders so they remain calm. Going by the universal notion that hugs have a comforting effect on the body, weighted blankets were designed to offer a reassuring cuddle.
A calming hug grounds the body and, in turn, facilitates sleep. The concept dates back to the initial years of the 20th century when weighted blankets were recommended for children who were ailing from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, among other emotional disorders – they remained calm with the use of weighted blankets. Hence, the use of weighted blankets was prescribed as another option for a consoling hug.
Nowadays, occupational therapists are increasingly suggest usage of weighted blankets for patients as part of Sensory Integration Therapy. Weighted blankets are effective for alleviating the symptoms of depression, anxiety, sensory processing disorder, and autism.
Weighted Blanket Benefits
Due to hectic daily schedules, you may experience stress. Now, to lower your stress levels, consider using a weighted blanket. They work in a holistic manner to minimize stress in the body, among other benefits.
Additionally, emotional health disorders can disrupt our sleep patterns. Thus, we cannot enjoy a good night’s sleep. Sure, you can take sleep medicines to fall asleep. Though, they come with a range of side effects. Instead, opt for natural therapies, under which weighted blankets are a viable remedy.
Weighted blankets are advised for people suffering from high-stress levels and busy lifestyle, panic and anxiety attacks, depression, insomnia and other sleep troubles.
Weighted blankets stimulate the release of two brain chemicals — dopamine and serotonin — which have a calming effect that combats anxiety, stress, and depression.
A weighted blanket is a type of sleep aid that provides deep pressure stimulation to calm the body and help relieve pain.
Some benefits of these blankets could be:
- Weighted blankets simulate deep pressure touch, which can reduce stress and anxiety.
- A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggested that grounding the human body during sleep can help improve cortisol level, especially in women, which improved their sleep and reduced stress, insomnia, and pain.
- Weighted Blankets have multiple benefits for people with anxiety, PTSD, and OCD.
- Weighted Blankets reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which helps the body to relax.
- Weighted Blankets promote the “calming” hormones and neurotransmitters which help to calm both the body and brain.
- Weighted blankets may be helpful in reducing symptoms of autism.
- Touch therapy helps by decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
- Weighted blankets are a great way to relax and de-stress.
- Weighted blankets can help people with anxiety or depression.
- Weighted blankets are also effective for sleep deprivation or stress-related insomnia.
What is a weighted blanket used for? Let’s see the usage of a weighted blanket and how they benefit when managing disorders.
Improves Sleep Disorders
20 million Americans have trouble falling asleep occasionally — and over 40 million people in the US have long-term, chronic sleep disorders. Stress and anxiety can cause a sleep disorder to begin with, or they can make existing problems worse.Because the pressure from weighted blankets prepares your body for rest by calming your heart rate and breathing, they help your body to calm down enough to get the sleep it needs so you can wake up feeling refreshed.
Stress can lead to deterioration of our overall health. However, weighted blankets work via deep touch pressure mechanisms and help in stress-relief.
Eases Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
As part of the RLS, patients experience a tingling sensation in their legs. The disorder symptoms can worsen when they are in bed. As a result, they cannot sleep and, thus, suffer from Insomnia and other sleep disorders.
The urge to move one’s legs can be discomforting when traveling via car or airplane too. The use of compression socks can help in alleviating the RLS discomfort. Though, weighted blankets are helpful to impart the desired comfort as well.
Autism: Relief for sensory-related disorders
Conflicting brain signals can give rise to sensory issues, leading to anxiety pangs. Also, both patients suffering from anxiety and children ailing from autism have similarities. Both undergo emotional turmoil.
Autism is a developmental disorder; the patients have difficulty when interacting with others. Also, they are not able to communicate properly and their learning ability is affected. Parents of children having autism are often recommended to use weighted or calming or gravity blankets. Medical researchers vouch that gravity blankets can help children with autism.
Medical professionals have been treating autism with weighted lap pads, weighted blankets and weighted vests through the years. Small and uniformly distributed pockets containing polypropylene pellets constitute the calming blankets. These stuffing materials are bulky due to which the blankets can apply gentle but firm pressure throughout the body.
Using a weighted blanket (sometimes called as gravity blanket) on a child with autism calms and grounds their body. Similarly, people suffering from anxiety are relieved with weighted blankets for they get the feel of a soothing hug.
Read more about Autism and Weighted blankets here.
How weighted blankets are helpful for Autistic Children
Offers sleep benefits
Weighted blankets boost serotonin levels in the body which regulates sleep due to which the person enjoys restorative sleep.
Gravity blankets improve the functioning of the nervous system by reducing stress levels. In turn, the person calms down while easing into ‘sleep’ mode.
Improves ability to focus
Research studies indicate that children with autism benefit by wearing weighted vests at school. They recorded having greater concentration levels and could more effectively complete tasks.
Deep pressure stimulation may improve communicativeness in children on the autistic spectrum.
Deep pressure stimulation may increase feelings of safety and grounding.
Weighted Blanket for ADHD patients
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome (ADHS) patients display a variety of symptoms. These include impulsiveness, restlessness, and inability to concentrate.
The use of weighted blankets during sensory integration therapy has a relaxing effect while reducing anxiety, probably owing to the release of melatonin and serotonin hormones.
Improves behavior in children with ADHD
A weighted blanket can help children with ADHD concentrate better. Deep pressure therapy of a weighted blanket creates a soothing and calming effect that lessens anxiety. Using a weighted blanket as a tool, like a weighted lap pad or a weighted vest, can improve on-task behavior and overall focus in students within a classroom environment.
Improves mood in ADHD
Deep touch pressure stimulation, which weighted blankets offer, has been shown to produce calming effects that reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality in ADHD sufferers.
The use of weighted blankets has been shown to improve mood in people with ADHD.
The weighted blankets help to stabilize emotions and reduce stress levels.
People who have ADHD can benefit from the calming effects of a weighted blanket.
In all, weighted blankets for ADHD can help to improve your mood which is why they pose as a good option for AHDH patients.
Aids the elderly groups
As people become older, their sleeping habits change. Also, they tend to suffer from Insomnia due to chronic pain, anxiety, and stress. More so, they need a comforting hug, as all humans do. Weighted blankets are recommended by the sleep experts to help them sleep better at night.
Weighted Blankets for PTSD
Individuals who have been part of traumatic or stressful events are known to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which causes incapacitating stress.
PTSD affects mainly the veteran community, studies suggest 11-30% of veterans and around 7-8% of Americans suffer from PTSD – notwithstanding gender and other societal barriers even childhood trauma could be a risk for the development of PTSD.
PTSD Anxiety and Depression are interrelated, the symptoms tend to overlap. Common symptoms of both disorders are emotional turbulence, difficulty in sleeping, and lack of interest in daily activities.
For easing the effect of the traumatic events, a range of therapies is available:
- various types of natural therapies
- inoculation training.
In recent times, the use of weighted blankets is common for dealing with PTSD because Weighted blankets are a good way for people to catch up on their lost sleep.
There are some Medications and a host of therapies for the treatment of PTSD.
- Medicinal Drugs
- Extended Exposure
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Nowadays, weighted blankets are a preferred method for people to sleep better also for PTSD patients because they can sleep soundly which helps to reduce their symptoms. Read more about why Weighted blankets for PTSD could be a possible treatment.
A mental health condition where the patient remains constantly depressed and loses interest in activities, thereby, leading to impairment in daily activities befits the description of clinical depression. Having the disorder can interfere with daily duties and result in lower work productivity in many cases. Further, depression has a bearing on relationships and other serious health conditions.
For more information on treatment of depression with a weighted blanket read our detailed article.
Depressive patients show symptoms such as sadness, lack of interest in activities.
Signs of Depression
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Weight loss and appetite loss
- Insomnia or sleeping troubles
- Suicidal notions
- Weight gain or increased appetite
- Unable to concentrate
- Atypical slow movements
Anxiety and Stress
Any person who suffers from stress and anxiety displays symptoms – both psychological and physical ones.
Physical symptoms of anxiety and stress:
- stomach pain
- increase in heartbeat
- tendency to urinate frequently
- muscle tension
- sleeping difficulties
- appetite changes
Some common emotional or mental symptoms of stress and anxiety:
- concentration troubles
- uncontrollable anger
When someone suffers from stress and anxiety for long time, the possibility of them ailing from health issues cannot be ruled out. Stress anxiety depression, diabetes, cardio-linked issues and panic attacks are some disorders they are likely to suffer from.
Here you can read more about Weighted blankets for Anxiety and Stress and also about the related signs, symptoms and other natural remedies.
Alleviates anxiety induced insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder. As a result, they may obtain inadequate rest or have poor-quality rest. When they wake up, they may not really feel rejuvenated. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You might have problem concentrating or remembering which may prevent you from doing your best at work or school. Insomnia can cause daytime drowsiness and also the absence of energy. It could make you feel nervous, clinically depressed, or cranky.
Insomnia can be acute (temporary) or chronic (recurring) and is caused by circumstances such as stress and anxiety at the office, family stress, or any stressful occasion. Acute insomnia lasts weeks, while chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer.
The majority of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are the signs and symptom or side effect of some other problems, maybe medicines, rest problems can also trigger secondary insomnia. Numerous life adjustments can activate primary insomnia, consisting of long-lasting stress and anxiety and emotional upset.
- Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced when you are feeling nervous, anxious, or irritated.
- When you have anxiety, this can lead to many sleepless nights, which can lead to insomnia.
- The combination of anxiety and insomnia may have a huge effect on your health.
However, it may be alleviated with the use of a weighted blanket heavy on your body as it has been found to stimulate your feel-good hormones called dopamine; hence potentially reducing cortisol levels in your body. Read more about natural remedies for insomnia.
Weighted Blankets Improve sleep quality
weighted blankets are helpful when it comes to inducing sleep and improving sleep quality, they can also improve sleep in adults (not everyone who experiences bad sleep Weighted blankets are becoming more popular as a way to improve sleep quality. They work by providing pressure and sensory input to the user, which has been found to be helpful in inducing sleep and improving sleep quality. They can also be beneficial for adults who experience bad sleep but do not have insomnia.
Weighted Blankets Promote melatonin production
It is believed that the production of melatonin is linked to serotonin, which is released when a person feels the weight of a heavy blanket. This in turn, triggers the production of melatonin and promotes sleep.
It has been found that weighted blankets can help to promote melatonin production in people who have sleep disorders, like insomnia. This is because the deep touch pressure stimulation provided by the weighted blanket helps to increase melatonin levels. For people who struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, using a weighted blanket may be a good solution.
Mimics a hug
Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets that weight between 5 and 30 pounds.
The pressure of the extra weight on our bodies mimics a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation or pressure therapy. When a child is hurt, one of their first actions is usually to run toward a parent in search of a hug. As it turns out, adults really aren’t all that different. The instinct to crave a hug doesn’t go away, and most of us still feel calmer and more relaxed when we get one.
Lowers anxiety levels
Anxiety can lead to sleepless nights, which disrupts sleep. Weighted blankets may help reduce anxiety levels. Weighted blankets may help stimulate feel-good hormones called dopamine, potentially alleviating the problem.
Alleviates obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD
Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often find relief from weighted blankets because serotonin levels go up.
Weighted blankets have also been found to help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, aggression, and bipolar disorder.
OCD is characterized by persistent, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, which can cause a large range of symptoms and behaviors.
Reduces symptoms of restless leg syndrome
Weighted blankets are a treatment for restless leg syndrome (RLS) and can provide many benefits, including reducing symptoms. Weighted blankets are often used to treat anxiety and insomnia, among other conditions. Weighted blankets have positive effects on the body’s serotonin levels, heart rate, and more.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that causes intense and persistent sensations of movement in the legs. Some of the symptoms of RLS include:
- difficulty sitting or remaining still for extended periods
- difficulty sleeping due to restless leg syndrome
- feeling like you need to move your legs constantly
- painful cramps in your legs
Lowers instances of panic attacks
People who have panic attacks often feel like they are having a heart attack or that they are going to die. This can cause them to stop living their life and doing the things they love, because the fear of another panic attack is too great. Cannabis has been shown to help lower instances of panic attacks in people with Panic Disorder, PTSD, and Social Anxiety Disorder.
A weighted blanket is a heavy blanket or vest that helps reduce panic attacks by promoting the production of serotonin and dopamine. For people of all ages, weighted blankets can decrease panic attacks and prevent crisis states.
A weighted blanket can be a helpful tool for people with panic disorder because it makes them feel less anxious and more relaxed.
Sensory Processing Disorder is like a traffic jam in the brain, and weighted blankets are a great tool for patients with this condition because they help the user feel less overwhelmed by exterior stimuli.
Reduces Heart Rate
Touch therapy has been found to decrease heart rate.
A weighted blanket simulates touch therapy, providing similar benefits.
The calming, grounding effect can be helpful for stopping symptoms of anxiety or other illnesses that induce a quickened heart rate.
When your system achieves this homeostasis in the parasympathetic nervous system, physical manifestations of calm will appear.
Your heart rate will slow, your blood pressure will drop, and the stress hormone cortisol will decrease . Sweating from the stress that you might normally experience during the day will subside . Your body will be at ease, exactly what it needs while it sleeps to maintain a healthy immune system and mindset.
When you feel down, it can sometimes seem like you’ll never feel “normal” or happy again. While it’s normal to feel grouchy or irritable, researchers know that some bouts of sadness are caused by chemical changes in the brain.
Fortunately, deep touch pressure stimulation has been shown to boost the production of serotonin . There’s also evidence that deep touch pressure reduces cortisol (stress) levels.
You can get this therapy at home (or just about anywhere) with a weighted blanket or wrap.
Helps With Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that is more common in women than men. The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but it is believed to be related to abnormalities in the way the brain and spinal cord process pain signals. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and mood changes. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments that can help lessen symptoms. The weighted blanket can help to ease symptoms and prevent fibro flare-ups.
Weighted blankets are often helpful for patients with fibromyalgia.
Do weighted blankets really work?
We are constantly working to improve our lives and sleeping well at night is the easiest way to achieve the desired results. If you sleep well, your chances of suffering from any mental disorders are far lesser, you can enhance your productivity at work and maintain friendships and relationships.
Weighted comforters impart several health benefits and do not pose any harm – a win-win situation.
Are Weighted Blankets safe?
As a common outlook, weighted blankets are safe and do not pose any risk for physically healthy adults but they could be risky for adults with physical disabilities or frail elderly who are too weak to handle them independently. There could also be some side effects which need to be managed.
Are Weighted Blankets Safe For Cats?
There are plenty of weighted products marketed to pet owners. There is some social proof that this may be effective, but there is no research which supports this. Are weighted blankets safe for cats and dogs as for humans?
Do weighted blankets actually work?
Weighted blankets may be helpful for individuals who have difficulty relaxing their bodies after a long day or for maintaining calm during activities of daily living.
Weighted blankets are claimed to provide deep pressure to the body’s joints and muscles, which can help individuals control excessively high energy levels or maintain a calm nervous system.
What the Research Shows about Weighted Blankets
There are few studies of weighted blankets that are reviewed by independent researchers and published in reputable medical journals.
Swedish researchers found that 31 men and women with moderate insomnia who used the blankets for 2 weeks reported a calmer night’s sleep with fewer movements.
A study from 2015 found that after 32 adults used a 30-pound blanket, 63% reported lower anxiety and 78% preferred the weighted blanket to calm down.
Should you use a weighted blanket if you have asthma?
Weighted blankets are not typically recommended for people who have asthma. If you are considering using a weighted blanket, consult with your doctor to see if it is a good option for you.
What are the negatives of weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets can have some negatives associated with them. For example, they can be quite heavy and may be difficult to move around. They can also be quite expensive, which may be a deterrent for some people.
Should you use a weighted blanket if you have arthritis?
The use of a weighted blanket may help to reduce pain and inflammation in some people with arthritis, while others may find the added weight uncomfortable.
Do you have to sleep on your back with a weighted blanket?
Some people prefer to sleep on their back, while others find that sleeping on their side or stomach is more comfortable. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide what position is most comfortable when using a weighted blanket.
Try a weighted stuffed animal
Weighted stuffed animals have been weighted down with a certain amount of weight. Just like a weighted blanket. This extra weight provides physical and mental stimulation for the person using it.
Weighted stuffed animals have countless benefits, they can be used by adults as well, and are often used as a therapy.
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