You might have heard plenty of people talking about weighted blankets for stress, chronic pain, and even just relaxation. These unique accessories have gained a lot of attention in recent years, thanks to their proven ability to deliver various benefits through touch pressure.
Though research into weighted blankets is still ongoing, some of the early reports on these products indicate that they could help with lowering heart rate, reducing anxiety, overcoming insomnia, and more.
Of course, if you’re thinking of making your own investment in gravity blankets, you might want to learn a little more about what is a weighted blanket and how one can benefit you.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is just what it sounds like – a blanket filled with plastic, glass, or metal pellets, intended to add more weight to your covering. Some people swear by using a weighted blanket to help them get to sleep at night, while others say they’re excellent at quieting the nervous system.
A weighted blanket is designed to apply a certain level of light and deep pressure to various points on the body. For most people, a gravity blanket will feel like you’re being held or hugged by something warm and snuggly. A weighted blanket can give you a sense of calm when you need it most, and like most blankets, they’re great for keeping you warm in winter.
Not all weighted blankets are the same weight. The weight people choose will depend on their body weight and size. Most weight blankets work best when you follow the instructions provided by the designer on choosing the right weight. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure your blanket weighs about 10% of your body weight.
What Are the Benefits of Using Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are therapeutic products that usually weigh between 5 and 30 pounds, depending on the one you choose. The pressure in these covers mimics a well-known therapeutic technique usually known as deep pressure stimulation.
When you sit under a compression blanket or therapy blanket, the deep-pressure stimulation relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system. Experts believe that using this pressure helps to relieve stress, reduce pain, and improve your mood. The calming effect of a weighted blanket improves sleep and may help with sleep disorders, it can also assist with a range of conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Deep touch pressure has already proven to be an effective part of many treatments, including massage therapy.
How Does a Weighted Blanket Work?
The science behind weighted blankets comes from the potential of deep touch pressure or deep pressure stimulation. This experience, otherwise known as DPS, is often provided by trained practitioners who know how to apply touch pressure to various parts of the body to support and calm the nervous system. Using this specific therapy, it’s possible to reduce anxiety, stress, and even your heart rate.
Weighted blankets work to mimic the effects of pressure therapy using glass beads, or other heavy fillings. A weighted blanket may help you to get a good night’s sleep when you can’t visit a massage parlour every day. This technology may also help with sensory processing disorders to feel calmer and more relaxed, as people with these disorders often struggle with sensory information.
The calming effect of a weighted blanket can improve sleep, but it also helps to release the hormone oxytocin. It is sometimes called the “love hormone” because it makes you feel happier and more relaxed. Applying deep touch pressure therapy through the plastic pellets in a weighted blanket can be an excellent way to deliver the comfort you need if you are stressed out.
Why Would You Use a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are frequently used to calm the body and mind in a variety of circumstances. Though further research into the reasons why a weighted blanket can make you feel good is necessary, current studies indicate a lot of benefits. Some of the issues that weighted blankets can help with include:
Children with autism often have trouble sleeping. Researchers discovered that using weighted blankets to encourage restful sleep in children with autism could help with tackling the side effects of the condition. Studies have also found that children with autism may end up feeling happier and more comfortable after a period of use with a weighted blanket.
There are a number of ways in which a weighted blanket may help children with autism. For example, boosting serotonin levels, reducing anxiety or even improving focus at school and reducing the frequency of meltdowns.#AGWeightedBlanket pic.twitter.com/726MmDsAHf
— AG Bedding (@AGBedding) January 28, 2020
Sensory Processing Disorders
Weighted blankets appear to be helpful for children and adults with sensory processing problems. Some people say that using these blankets can feel like being wrapped in a cocoon of comfort. The effect of the weighted beads can make it easier to deal with the stress of everyday life.
There are a few studies that explore the use of weighted blankets for ADHD in children and adults. Some of these reports have found that those who use one of these blankets could experience fewer desires to leave their seat, fidget, or go off task. Weighted sheets could be one of the ways to improve mental health.
Weighted blankets could have a positive effect on grown adults and kids with anxiety alike. Research has shown that pressure-focused stimulation can be effective at reducing arousal caused by stress and increased heart rate. If you start to feel panicked, or your kids mention a feeling of anxiety, then a weighted blanket may feel good.
If a comfortable mattress and a great set of pillows aren’t helping you to sleep well in bed, then you may need some extra help. Kids and adults that use weighted blankets when they go to sleep may experience a better quality of sleep. Many scientists have explored the use of weighted blankets to address sleep disorders and help people of all ages to sleep better.
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Studies into the benefits of other forms of pressure distribution, like massage, indicate that the use of pressure could be helpful for people suffering from osteoarthritis. Massage therapy applies deep pressure to joints in the human body. This could mean that you could achieve a similar feeling of relief with a weighted blanket.
A weighted blanket made with the right material could also be one of the best ways to deal with chronic pain. Massage therapy is recommended for people with chronic discomfort. This indicates that pressure from a weighted blanket would also assist with pain problems.
For those with pain that makes it difficult to rest, a weighted blanket’s benefits for sleep quality could also help to deliver the rest that leads to faster healing.
Who Should Not Use a Weighted Blanket?
There’s a growing collection of research in the medical world that indicates that weighted blankets work to tackle a range of problems, from chronic pain to stress. However, weighted blankets will not be suitable for everyone. In general, most professionals recommend that weighted blankets should only be used with healthy kids, adults, and children who respond well to pressure therapy.
Crucially, you should never use a weighted blanket for toddlers under the age of two, as there’s a risk of suffocation. Older kids with developmental disorders may not be able to rest safely under weighted blankets too.
People with one or more health conditions that may impact their breathing or lungs should avoid weighted blankets. The products may make breathing issues worse and prompt bouts of anxiety. You may also find that you don’t like this type of blanket if you are claustrophobic, as the weighted pressure might cause anxiety rather than reduce it.
Are Weighted Blankets Bad for You?
The majority of the information we have on weighted blankets today suggests that these products are great for tackling a range of problems. You can use your weighted blanket to deal with periods of insomnia or anxiety. There’s also the option to enjoy a weighted blanket if you’re struggling with sensory processing disorders.
For the most part, there are very few risks with using a weighted blanket. In general, you should be careful about using these products with young children, due to the risk of suffocation. You should also stay away from weighted blankets if you have any breathing difficulties.
Unless you have a claustrophobic condition or you struggle with breathing problems, you shouldn’t find that a weighted blanket is bad for you. However, it is up to you to decide if a weighted blanket isn’t right for you.
Now you know exactly what is a weighted blanket and what its benefits are, the only way to know for certain if you can benefit from it is to test one. Use a weighted blanket for a few days to determine if it helps you sleep better and ease feelings of anxiety.
We hope you enjoy sleeping securely under your new blanket, let us know about your experiences!