In one of those ideas that seems obvious once you hear it, a new study has discovered that people sleeping under a heavy blanked have lower levels of insomnia, anxiety and stress. Thought to be related to the concept of swaddling for infants, researchers have discovered that adults too benefit from being wrapped up in a weighted blanket.
Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation
Leading animal behaviorist Dr. Temple Grandin believes that people have a biological inclination to respond positively to deep pressure touch stimulation. Known as DPTS, any kind of all-over body contact like a massage, hug, or sleeping under a weighted blanket causes the body to be soothed and more relaxed.
Weighted blankets have been used for decades as a therapeutic tool for children with autism or suffering from a spectrum of sensory anxiety disorders. Occupational therapists have discovered that heavy blankets are one of the most effective tools for relaxing and calming young people who are over-stimulated, suffering from anxiety, or having difficulty sleeping due to powerful emotions.
Naturally Ease Anxiety
A weighted blanket functions much like a full-body hug. The gentle but firm pressure over a large part of the surface of the body triggers a calming and relaxing response from the nervous system which releases serotonin into the bloodstream. As a tool that is both drug-free and completely without side effects, the use of a weighted blanket during nighttime is becoming an increasingly popular treatment for patients in hospitals, psychiatric wards, and geriatric units. Researchers have discovered that the weighted blanket works on a wide range of people and both adults and young children seem to equally benefit from the treatment.
Medical versions of weighted blankets are specially designed quilts with soft plastic pellets sewn into the squares to evenly distribute the weight. Each quadrant of the quilt functions as a form of DPTS and triggers relaxation and calming pressure points on the body causing the brain to boost seratonin production. The journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health published a study that showed that weighted blankets are effective in decreasing anxiety levels, distress, and visible signs of being upset in patients.
More Uses for Weighted Blankets
A number of psychological disorders such as OCD, PTSD, bipolar, aggression, anxiety, mania, insomnia, and depression have been connected to reduced levels of seratonin production in the brain. As the weighted blanket has been demonstrated to boost seratonin production, patients who suffer from a wide spectrum of disorders have been shown to benefit when applying this form of therapy.
Experts say that sleeping with weighted blankets can offer relief to individuals with:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Menopause symptoms
- Restless leg syndrome
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sensory disorders
- Bi-polar disease
- Sleep disorders
- Dental anxiety
- Cerebral palsy
Where to Buy a Weighted Blanket?
A wide variety of online retailers through Amazon offer both adult and child-size weighted blankets at competitive pricing. Some specialty organizations like National Autism Resources also offer weighted blankets in several different colors and designs.