- Can weighted blankets help with anxiety
- How do weighted blankets help with anxiety
- Why does a weighted blanket help with anxiety
You’ve likely found yourself here because you have a tough time shaking the relentless restraints of anxiety. We get it – the racing mind, sense of restlessness, sweat, the works. We’re anxious just thinking about it.
Luckily, there’s a natural remedy out there that studies and health professionals have repeatedly backed up. Weighted blankets are finally getting the attention they deserve as a stress-relieving option for anxious sleepers.
The weight from the blanket is much more than just that, serving as a deep pressure therapy tool for its users. Let’s dive into why the hype around weighted blankets is well deserved.
Can weighted blankets help with anxiety?
What causes anxiety in the first place? For each individual experiencing escalated anxiety, the triggers can be different. Sometimes it’s a work deadline, family, life surprises, or really anything.
But, whether these catalysts are medical or environmental, they elicit a similar experience in the body. The human response to anxiety involves a hormone party that causes the not-so-desirable symptoms.
Hormones are the chemical carrier pigeons of the body, telling it that it is safe and happy. When stress hormones are more present than happy ones, we experience heightened mental and sometimes physical discomfort, loss of sleep, and restlessness.
There is a litany of options out there claiming to remedy this undesirable bodily trait or function. Options could include prescription medication, meditation, CBD is a hot trend at the moment, therapy, and many more. So, where do we start?
Why not in the bedroom? Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of how and why weighted blankets reduce anxiety.
Back to the question – do weighted blankets help relieve these symptoms of anxiety?
Yes they do! Or at least that’s the goal. Weighted blankets help ground their users by caressing sleepers in a similar fashion to a human hug.
Envision that lovely feeling of crawling into bed after a long day and discovering a warm embrace every night. The power of touch is so impactful on our health and well-being that the ability to get that from a blanket is pretty incredible.
More tangible evidence is still in the works, but the grounding effect (touch) of weighted blankets has shown a reduction in sleep dysfunction, pain, and stress.
Even though weighted blankets are pretty new to the natural anti-anxiety remedy game, a few credible studies show some promising benefits.
- A systematic review by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy concluded that weighted blankets are an easily accessible and effective therapeutic tool in reducing anxiety.
- Occupational therapists have been using these guys for ages to alleviate the adverse effects of ADHD and autism and children, and luckily, we now have access to them.
- Another more comprehensive study observed the introduction of weighted blankets as a therapeutic measure to combat anxiety during chemotherapy transfusions. Researchers found a significant reduction in stress thanks to these heavy blankets. So, if those going through something as stressful as chemo can find relief from the comforting pressure of weighted blankets, that says something for the rest of us.
Are those the only credible sources on the benefits of a weighted blanket? Nope! Here is another article with more benefits and studies.
How weighted blankets help?
Okay, we are now aware that weighted blankets caress and calm the body, but how on earth does a blanket with heavy filling accomplish that?
Weighted blankets act as a form of deep touch pressure (DTP) therapy. The idea behind the practice is that the pressure evoked will let the nervous system know it’s safe, allowing the mind and body to relax.
It’s commonly performed by applying hands-on pressure to slow the mental and physical gears that result in stress.
It’s viewed as a grounding mechanism of which has been proven to reduce stress hormones like cortisol. This process is a natural and pretty effective remedy to alleviate anxiety and difficulties sleeping.
In fact, a study following 32 adults facing high levels of stress found 63% reported lowered anxiety, and 78% preferred weighted blankets to other methods.
So DTP is no joke, and neither is the science of a hug. Essentially, hugs reduce pressure by showing support. The same goes for your new weighted blanket.
For the weight in your weighted blanket – picking the right amount of lbs to caress you at night is essential. We don’t want to go too heavy and cause more anxiety, right?
But don’t start worrying; the golden rule is to pick a blanket that is 10% of your body weight. If you find this is too light, bump it up a few pounds.
Another note for filling – choose one that does not trigger any sensitivities, whether they may be allergy-related, tactile, or auditory. It’s pretty safe to suggest micro glass beads as the best option to avoid any potential anxiety-stimulating factors.
Choosing a suitable fabric is just as crucial in creating a stress-free sleep environment. Consider whether you’re a hot or cool sleeper and, similarly, whether you live in warm or cold weather environments.
Organic cotton is often a safe bet but check out our more comprehensive guides to choosing the right fillings and fabrics for your new favorite therapeutic sleep tool.
Once you’ve found your optimal weight and fabric, let it work its magic. The heaviness of the weighted blanket does its DTP duties, calming the nervous system and lowering your heart rate, taking the body out of fight or flight mode. These actions shift the mind and body from a sense of uneasiness to one of rest. The consistently applied pressure throughout the evening ensures continuous therapy and thus a restful night’s sleep.
Why weighted blankets help?
We’ve scratched the surface of deep touch therapy in weighted blankets, but why does the comforting pressure of DTP work?
The power of the hug all circles back to the beauty of hormone regulation, specifically our stress and feel-good ones. Let’s dive deeper into why these wonderful little hormones are so important.
Mostly, we want to praise our happy hormones, including oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, and commend your weighted blanket on decreasing cortisol as well, a major stress hormone. Here are our major players:
- Oxytocin –
Enter the love hormone. This hormone is triggered by touch and is so essential in our everyday lives. Love-based states pair better with relaxation and sleep, right? The touch of your weighted blanket assists in the release of oxytocin on demand and throughout the night. The constant weight at night helps the sleep cycle, as oxytocin naturally increases during sleep. It’s basically recharging your happy battery while you snooze.
- Serotonin –
There is peace in balance, and hormone regulation is essential in stabilizing moods. This process is also responsible for reducing anxiety and increasing the quality of sleep. Speaking of sleep, serotonin tees up the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Touch assists in the release of this chemical. Another therapeutic option to boost serotonin is via massage, but weighted blankets are more readily available to embrace you and are a bit more economical, in our opinion.
- Dopamine –
There’s a solid list of all the tasks dopamine accomplishes in the body; some include functions like motivation, learning, sleep, mood, and attention, just to name a few. Physiologically, it plays a role in regulating heart rate, blood vessel function, kidney function, and processing pain. It’s hard to find something dopamine doesn’t contribute to. Again, the weighted tool we love assists in keeping dopamine pumping.
- Cortisol –
Okay, now for the hormone we may not be as much a fan of. While certain cortisol levels are healthy in our response mechanisms, too much of it on a regular basis can feel overwhelming. The grounding sensation of weighted blankets decreases cortisol levels, and the prolonged pressure keeps them there. Another W for team heavy blankets.
Regulating these hormones is vital to managing anxiety and improving our overall health and well-being.
DTP assists in this act when we just can’t seem to get a grasp. The ultimate result of weighted blankets is the lowering of stimulation and arousal while simultaneously improving rest and relaxation.
The hugging sensation that comes from weighted blankets lets the body know that it’s safe, increasing the release of these happy hormones and thus, creates a relaxed physiological response. Run, don’t walk to the purchase button.
To recap and throw this whole piece into a nutshell, weighted blankets are excellent natural deep pressure therapy tools to reduce anxiety.
The grounding effect of these blankets reduces that pesky stress hormone, cortisol, and aligns your body to sleep soundly.
We want to make peace with our mind-body connection, and giving your hormones a fighting chance will help accomplish this mission.
When you feel your mind racing with little hope in sight, that’s a sign that there may be an imbalance. Anxiety can trickle into other facets of life, and so can loss of sleep, so it’s best to nip it in the butt before bedtime.
Treat yourself to unlimited cuddles and throw your new hugging weighted blanket on to help recreate the balance your body craves. We wish you much luck in your weighted blanket experience and hope that it genuinely makes a difference in your health journey.