Health Benefits of Using the Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets have become very popular in recent years, and if you aren’t aware of their benefits, you may wonder what the fuss is all about.
But this is certainly your lucky day as we intend to put you in the know on how you can also benefit from having these therapeutic blankets.
A weighted blanket is a pressure blanket that is heavier than your standard blanket as it weighs between 5 and 20 pounds. The extra weight provides therapeutic pressure on your body, making you feel swaddled and secure.
Using deep touch pressure similar to what is used in the therapeutic deep pressure stimulation technique, these pallet-filled blankets help calm and settle your nervous system, easing pain, reducing stress levels, and enabling you to sleep better.
In the past, weighted blankets also referred to as pressure or gravity blankets, were initially used as a natural form of therapy for people with sensory disorders such as autism to help them calm down and relax.
Fortunately, today, even the average person can significantly benefit from using a weighted blanket. This article looks at some health benefits of a gravity blanket and why it’s about time you bought one.
1. Pressure Blankets Reduce Anxiety
According to one research, deep pressure stimulation provided by a weighted blanket reduces automatic arousal responsible for anxiety. By providing a deep pressure touch that helps ‘ground ‘ your body, a weighted blanket can help you relax, helping break the anxiety cycle.
In yet another study, the use of gravity blankets helped reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone that often causes anxiety and depression.
Moreover, blankets are sometimes referred to as comfort objects as they help ease anxiety and frustrations in times of stress, especially among children. People with sensory disorders are often advised to use comfort objects to help them calm down. A weighted blanket brings about a sensation of being cuddled, similar to the swaddling feeling newborns get when you hold them close. This feeling helps you feel snug and secure, reducing anxiety and stress levels.
2. Improves Sleep
According to several surveys conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 40 million Americans have insomnia. If you’re one of the people who toss and turn at night even after sipping some chamomile tea or taking a hot bath, then it's time you tried using a pressure blanket.
In a 2015 study, 31 participants with chronic insomnia had their sleep patterns checked using ordinary and weighted blankets. The study results showed that the use of gravity blankets improved the participants' sleep time and decreased their movement during sleep. The participants also acknowledged that they preferred using the pressure blankets as they had an easy time settling down before sleep and even woke up more refreshed in the morning.
As noted earlier, pressure blankets promote the relaxation needed to fall asleep. They also trigger the release of feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Such hormones can help ease the stress that may be responsible for your insomnia. Hormones such as serotonin also improve the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Melatonin levels have been shown to increase after deep touch pressure stimulation provided by the extra weight in a gravity blanket.
Besides, if your sleep is interrupted due to Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), then a weighted blanket can help.
Restless leg syndrome is characterized by a feeling of crawling or creeping on your legs at night. Fatigue and stress is a common issue with people suffering from RLS due to lack of enough sleep. For most sufferers, having something heavy pressing on their legs, such as compression socks, lessens RLS symptoms. Fortunately, a weighted blanket also helps relieve RLS symptoms and is preferred to compression socks as it’s more comfortable.
Weighted blankets also help children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome) sleep better. In a 2020 study, 120 randomized patients were given either a weighted metal chain blanket or a light plastic chain blanket. This study indicated that the weighted chain blankets were effective in reducing insomnia in patients with ADHD.
3. Relieves Pain
The gentle but firm pressure from a gravity blanket has been shown to relieve chronic pain. For instance, pain from fibromyalgia can be debilitating. Fibromyalgia is a disease that is characterized by muscle and soft tissue pain and tenderness. This condition is often misdiagnosed, causing emotional distress to the patients and their families. According to the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), the disease affects more women than men, and since it has no cure, different measures are used to control its symptoms.
One of the measures that can be used to control fibromyalgia pain is the use of weighted blankets. This blanket's pressure helps your body to relax, reduces fatigue, anxiety, and stress, which can help ease fibromyalgia pain. A weighted blanket also increases serotonin production, which is the chemical that helps with eating and sleeping. Besides, a gravity blanket also helps increase the oxytocin hormone production, which is the bonding hormone that brings a feel-good sensation. These hormones can help ease pain caused by fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions.
4. Improves Your Mood
Past research indicates that changes in your brain’s chemical levels sometimes cause a lousy mood. These changes may be caused by having low mood-lifting brain chemicals. For instance, your mood disorder may be caused by low serotonin levels or high levels of stress promoting cortisol hormone. Insomnia can also make you irritable, while low levels of oxytocin, also referred to as the happiness hormone, can increase sadness.
One way to promote the release of oxytocin or serotonin hormones is to use a weighted blanket. A pressure blanket imitates the security and warm feeling you get when given a hug, which boosts the oxytocin hormone's release.
Similarly, the blanket's firm pressure helps your body relax, improving the production of the serotonin hormone and decreasing the levels of cortisol in your body.
Besides, a weighted blanket helps you relax, promoting deeper and more restful sleep leading to a refreshed mind in the morning.
5. Improves the Behavior of Autism or ADHD Patients
Sensory disorders such as autism, ASD, and ADHD often affect your child’s concentration. Children suffering from such conditions may find it hard to concentrate or focus in class. They also become restless and impulsive, which makes it harder for them to learn.
The use of deep pressure stimulation (DPS) has been shown to calm and soothe anxiety in these children. DPS is characterized by giving a firm but gentle squeezes or hugs to relax the patient’s nervous system. This pressure can be applied using special massage tools, hands, or products such as a pressure blanket or a weighted vest that your little one can wear or wrap around them.
DPS therapy leads to a chain reaction in the body that brings a sense of peace and calm to your child when done in the right way. Also, the calming effect improves the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are feel-good hormones. The result is that your child can relax, focus, and control their impulses and behavior.
In closing, weighted blankets are not only beneficial to people with sensory disorders. The average person can also use pressure blankets to combat insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, mood disorders, and other health issues. Pressure blankets are safe so long as you can move freely under their weight. If you or your child has a medical condition, it’s always good to consult with your doctor before buying a gravity blanket. Also, when buying your pressure blanket, get one that weighs 10% of your body weight to prevent too much pressure on your body.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes