The Benefits of Weighted Blankets for Anxiety
Weighted blankets have exploded in popularity in the last year. They have actually been around for quite awhile and are finally getting recognition because of the impact they are having for people using them.
While they work great for a range of issues, we wanted to write an article that focuses on the benefits of weighted blankets for anxiety. Fortunately, this is one of the areas where weighted blankets have been studied the most.
Before we dive into the research, let’s take a quick look at what a weighted blanket is, in case you are new to them.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is a blanket that is designed to be heavier than normal. It can come in a variety of weights and sizes, and are made differently by different companies. Depending on your needs, you’ll want to get a weighted blanket that suits your specific weight and comfort. We will cover more on how to find the right weighted blanket at the end of the article.
While you may not have ever used a weighted blanket, there’s a chance you have already noticed the benefits of what a weighted blanket can do. By this, I mean that often times people will put a lot of blankets on themselves to get provide a “heavy” feeling. Similarly, a simple hug can have the effect of what weighted blankets can do. The feeling of being hugged is often welcomed and just feels pleasant to most individuals.
The Science of Why Weighted Blankets Work for Anxiety
There is an underlying science behind weighted blankets. It’s called Deep Touch Pressure or DTP. DTP is simply a gentle, distributed pressure on the body. It can be accomplished through weighted blankets, weighted compression vests, weighted lap pads or stuffed animals, massages, or even hugs!
One of the reasons why DTP works is because it has been shown to increase serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a chemical in the body that helps regulate mood, specifically having a calming effect.
On top of that, weighted blankets have been shown to decrease the activity in the nervous system. One study found this when looking at people who have anxiety in the dentist office.
Another study found that physiologically, 33% of people using a weighted blanket had decreases in their nervous system activity, while 63% reported having lower anxiety. Overall, 78% of people in the study preferred the weighted blanket as a tool to relieve anxiety.
A study that looked at DTP through the use of a weighted vest found that using the weighted vest “for even short periods of time reduced sympathetic arousal and non–stimulus-driven electrical occurrences.” This basically means that their body had physiological changes as it calmed down because of the weighted blanket.
Often times, sleeping can be an issue for those who suffer from anxiety. This can come from not being able to calm down, as well as not being able to slow down the running thoughts in one’s head. One study found that people who used weighted blankets have calmer nights of sleep, with a reduction of movement. The participants noted that they felt that their sleep was more comfortable and deeper.
It doesn’t really matter where your anxiety arises from, it appears that a weighted blanket could help you reduce it and get better sleep. Whether it’s autism, PSTD, OCD, or bipolar, using DTP to increase serotonin can have a very big positive effect.
How to Choose the Right Weighted Blanket for You?
Often times, weighted blankets are a bit of an investment. This means that you’ll want to make sure you choose one that fits your needs.
The first question is how to choose the right size of weighted blanket. The rule of thumb for this is 10% of your body weight plus a pound or two.
If you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll most likely want a blanket that weighs 16 to 17 pounds. If you are buying a weighted blanket for a young child that weighs 30 pounds, then a 4 to 5-pound blanket is what you’ll want.
You’ll want to look at the filling of the blanket as well. Some companies use food, like rice or barley to fill blankets. If the person you are buying the blanket for has allergies or sensitivities, then you’ll want to find a blanket that has a more neutral filling.
For example, we use part pp cotton and part poly-pellets to fill our blankets. This way, there are no food sensitivities to worry about.
The design of the blanket is important to look at as well. Is the blanket easy to wash? Is the weight evenly divided into sections, or are you going to have to worry about the weight sliding all to one side?
The last thing you’ll want to look at is the dimensions. It’s important to keep in mind that a weighted blanket should be smaller than the size of your bed. It’s designed to sit on top of the bed, so it doesn’t slide off to one side.
If you need more information about weighted blankets, feel free to ask us in the comments. We love to help families find the right blanket.
Casey Ames is the Founder of Harkla.
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Originally published at harkla.co.