What are the benefits of using a weighted blanket?
Did you know that weighted blanket benefits include relieving stress, calming you down and soothing anxiety? Think of a weighted blanket as a warm hug – but without the actual body contact.
Weighted blankets were invented almost 30 years ago as therapeutic aids to help children with autism fall asleep. The physical and emotional benefits of these blankets have seen them become popular in mainstream culture, with bloggers and celebrities lauding their positive effects on sleep.
If you haven’t discovered the benefits of weighted blankets yet, let’s go under the covers and investigate why this blanket could be the answer to getting better sleep.
What is a weighted blanket?
This is a blanket with a twist. It is heavier than your typical blanket (usually 15 pounds or more) because of the material it has been filled with. Some weighted blankets are filled with plastic pellets, lead, glass beads or millet.
Some weighted blankets can be bought as an all-in-one where the outer layer is also the weighted layer. Then there is the option of buying two separate pieces, like a duvet.
How does a weighted blanket work?
The science behind weighted blanket benefits lies in deep touch pressure (DTP). A weighted blanket applies gentle pressure to the body, promoting the slow release of serotonin, which triggers feelings of happiness, focus and calm.
Serotonin is a hormone which is made from the amino acid tryptophan. Your body uses tryptophan to produce melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, calming you and bringing on the z’s.
5 Weighted blanket benefits
Weighted blankets have been found to provide effective DTP therapy for conditions that are characterised by low serotonin levels. These include autism, depression, anxiety, aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. Other benefits of weighted blankets include:
1. Reduce anxiety
Research conducted by the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health in 2008 showed that when a weighted blanket was used by patients, the majority of them saw a drop in their anxiety levels, due to the release of serotonin.
2. Improve sleep quality
More research on weighted blankets found that it has a positive effect on treating insomnia. People who use weighted blankets found it easier to settle down to sleep and had a night of improved sleep and felt more refreshed in the morning.
3. Reduces restlessness
Another study in 2011 by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) tested weighted blankets on children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). The children responded with improved attention to the tasks allocated to them, with better concentration and focus.
4. Eases pain
People who have Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) could benefit from weighted blankets as they can alleviate the pain and distress caused by the aches, and pin and needles sensation. The DTP factor of weighted blankets works to calm the nervous system, relieving pain and leading to more high-quality sleep.
5. Improves mood
Remember serotonin? It’s also a mood-enhancing hormone which brings on feelings of joy. Through the release of serotonin when using a weighted blanket, your mood can get a boost.
Is it safe to sleep under a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets are relatively safe and there have been no fatalities in adults as a result of using them. However, they should not be used by children under the age of three, as there is a risk of suffocation. If you snore or have sleep apnea, the added weight and pressure on your chest could make breathing tough and make your condition worse.
Weighted blanket benefits are something of a miracle for people who are under stress, battling to get through the day and need proper rest. So if you’ve been looking to put your sleepless nights behind you, invest in a weighted blanket. It could very well be just what the doctor ordered.