With all the social buzz about weighted blankets, there’s little chance you haven’t asked yourself “What is a weighted blanket and why would I need one?” Thankfully, we’re here to help!
What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket, also called a gravity blanket, is a blanket with weighted beads sewn into the fabric is used just like any other blanket. A weighted blanket can help you to de-stress, relax, and relieve anxiety. It can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep better over the course of the night.
How does it work?
The evenly distributed weight exerts what’s known as “deep pressure stimulation.” Deep pressure stimulation lowers arousal. Research has shown that deep pressure stimulation decreases the activity of the body’s sympathetic nervous system—the system that promotes alertness and vigilance and responds to stressful stimuli; the “fight or flight” division of the nervous system. At the same time, deep pressure stimulation increases activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is sometimes called the “rest and digest” system. When it’s activated, it lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and increases relaxation and feelings of calm. Weighted blankets were found to reduce stress by 33%.
A weighted blanket is often used by occupational therapists for patients during sensory integration therapy. It’s typically used for helping alleviate the symptoms of autism, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, as well as depression.
The benefits of using a weighted blanket include:
- Combating stress
- Alleviating restless leg syndrome
- Helping ADHD patients with focus
- May stimulate oxytocin – a hormone that generates feelings of attachment and closeness as well as increases sleep time and quality
- Can decrease cortisol levels – a stimulating hormone tied to stress
- Can increase serotonin – a relaxing “feel good” hormone
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