October 07/19 – Weighted blankets are the newest way to help poor sleepers get a good night’s rest. They were first introduced by occupational therapists as treatment for behavioral disorders, but how exactly do they work? The idea is that the pressure from the blanket can increase serotonin, a chemical in your body that makes you feel happy and calm. Experts refer to it as “deep-pressure therapy.” It’s not intended to cure any medical conditions, but it’s become a popular way for anxiety-suffers, insomniacs, and self-proclaimed “bad sleepers” to get some shut eye.
Before we get into our top picks, it’s important to note that these blankets shouldn’t be used by anyone that can’t move freely beneath the weight. Though they’re sometimes used as a therapeutic means for children, it’s important to speak with their pediatricians first. Another thing you should know about weighted blankets: They’re pricier than regular throw blankets — most range from $100 to $200.
What are the benefits of a weighted blanket for anxiety?
Weighted blankets can help reduce anxiety in both children and adults. They’re typically safe to use. They help many people achieve a relaxed state, allowing them to sleep more deeply.
Weighted blankets help ground your body during sleep by pushing it downwards. This process, known as “earthing” or “grounding,” may have a deeply calming effect. The blankets also simulate deep pressure touch (DPT), a type of therapy that uses firm, hands-on pressure to reduce chronic stress and high levels of anxiety.
Studies show that grounding may help reduce nighttime levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol is produced when your brain thinks you’re under attack, eliciting the fight or flight response. Stress can escalate cortisol levels. This can have a negative impact upon the immune system. It can also increase blood sugar levels and adversely affect the digestive tract.
Elevated cortisol levels, especially those that don’t drop back down to normal levels naturally, can cause multiple complications. These include:
By providing deep pressure touch, weighted blankets can promote relaxation and help break this cycle. This may trigger the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are feel-good hormones produced in the brain. These hormones help combat stress, anxiety, and depression.
A study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary MedicineTrusted Source indicated that grounding the human body while sleeping is an effective way to synchronize cortisol secretion with its natural, 24-hour circadian rhythms, especially in women. Grounding helped reduce cortisol production in the participants during sleep. This improved their sleep and alleviated stress, insomnia, and pain.
Another study found that 30-lb weighted blankets are a safe and effective way to reduce anxiety in adults. Of the 32 adults who participated in the study, 63 percent reported lower levels of anxiety.
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