Weighted blankets are a powerful, drug-free approach to support people struggling with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder, and have become a popular therapeutic aid.
Health care professionals and faithful users recommend them as a successful way to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation for people suffering from certain sensory and mental health disorders.
They are, quite simply, blankets filled with plastic or glass beads or glass sand, to simulate the sensation of a comforting hug or reassuring touch. The answer to weighted blankets do they work is a resounding yes.
How Do Weight Blankets Work?
Weighted blankets are a form of deep touch therapy; if you have ever had a therapeutic massage, you might recall the sense of deep relaxation and calm that you feel at the end.
When you lie under or wrap yourself in a weighted blanket, the weight stimulates deep pressure touch receptors located all over your body. Once triggered, these receptors tell your body to release the hormone oxytocin and two brain chemicals known as serotonin and dopamine.
Oxytocin slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel calm and relaxed. Serotonin and dopamine increase and work together to impact your mood and sense of well-being positively.
Weighted blankets also reduce the stress hormone cortisol, reducing the level in your body, which can impair your ability to get deep and restful sleep at night.
How Do Weighted Blankets Help With Depression?
Depression, as well as several other mental health conditions, are associated with lowered levels of serotonin. Most commonly prescribed antidepressants are designed to increase serotonin levels in the brain.
While weighted blankets will not replace a treatment plan you have created with your health care provider, they can play a role in assisting you and your dopamine and serotonin levels.
Dopamine is released through deep pressure touch receptors, helping alleviate feelings of low motivation and helplessness. In contrast, increased serotonin levels help with emotional processing and offer a positive shift in mood.
A weighted blanket can be a very positive therapeutic aid when dealing with depression.
How Weighted Blankets Help Anxiety?
Weighted blankets are proven to be an effective treatment for anxiety, due to the stimulation of deep pressure touch receptors. The effectiveness is two-pronged.
First, there is a biochemical benefit of deep pressure; the release of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, where you experience a sense of calm, relaxation, and grounding.
Second, the effect from the whole-body stimulation by the blanket’s physical weight competes with anxiety in the nervous system to transmit sensory data.
What does this mean to you?
Well, to put it another way, there is only so much room on the neural highway to travel to your brain so the total body stimulation from the weighted blanket crowds out the messaging that triggers anxiety in the body.
The result is that you’re anxiety decreases, and your sense of calmness increases. Weighted blankets have been utilized to reduce anxiety in an inpatient mental health unit successfully. Journal of Integrative Medicine, Vol. 19, Issue 2.
How Do Weighted Blankets Help With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Weighted blankets are known to ease the symptoms of PTSD by offering physical comfort and helping with feelings of sadness, promoting grounding and sleep. Deep, restful sleep is crucial to promote mental healing from trauma.
People with PTSD are often exhausted yet hyper vigilant and have raised cortisol levels in the evenings that can impair sleep quality. Deep pressure – touch stimulation from a weighted blanket increases serotonin levels, which, in addition to improving mood, is converted into melatonin in the body to promote sleep. A weighted blanket will also reduce cortisol levels to help get better quality rest.
Cons Of Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets typically come in weights ranging from 5 to 30 pounds. So some weighted blankets are heavy and if you travel a great deal you may be daunted by carrying around this heavy blanket and the use of a weighted blanket with young children needs to also be considered. There is concern of suffocation with infants or small children. So, if utilizing with infants or animals be watchful and careful as the child or pet may not be able to move under the blanket and will not be able to move the blanket themselves.
It’s also important to consider the fabric of the blanket. Some weighted blankets are made with natural fabrics like cotton or wool, while others are made with synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. Depending on the quality and material of the blanket many may find that the blanket is too warm, so keep this in mind. A weighted blanket with glass beads will result in a cooler blanket as opposed to a blanket with plastic beads.
As weighted blankets are = weighted = washing the blanket may be something to consider. Can your washing machine and dryer handle a heavy blanket or will your best solution be going to the local laundromat to wash and dry in a commercial machine. Or you may choose to purchase a duvet cover to keep the blanket cleaner for longer and reduce the number of times you need to wash the blanket.
|PROS OF A WEIGHTED BLANKET||CONS OF A WEIGHTED BLANKET|
|HELPS TO GROUND||HEAVY|
|IMPROVES MOOD||GLASS BEADS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE|
|PROMOTES SLEEP||WASHING AT HOME VS LAUNDROMAT|
|REDUCES STRESS||MAY NEED TO BUY A COVER AS WELL|
|DECREASES ANXIETY||SAFETY FOR YOUNG CHILDREN AND PETS|
|CALMS||HEAVY TO TRAVEL WITH|
|RELAXES||CAN BE TOO WARM|
|HAVE A HUG WHENEVER YOU CHOOSE|
Weighted blankets are a popular way to get a good night’s sleep and can be helpful for people with anxiety or depression. Be sure to choose a blanket that is the right size and weight for you, and consider the fabric of the blanket when making your selection. Machine-washable blankets are also a good choice, as they will need to be cleaned frequently.