Do Weighted Blankets For Anxiety Work In Calming You Down?
Whether you have an anxiety disorder or are prone to feeling anxious and stressed more than average, then you might have heard of a simple anxiety solution – a weighted blanket for anxiety.
Do you believe in the power of a hug? Well, I do. I believe that a warm hug from a loved one can cure all your psychological ailments. And there’s a reason for that too! When you are hugged, your body releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, one of the happy hormones in the body. The rush of oxytocin can make you feel good and release stress hormones.
The same can be said when you’re comfortably hugged by a weighted blanket. I mean, for me, after a stressful day, curling up on my bed with a hot cup of tea, my favorite book, and my blanket is the best stress reliever. Now if I switch my normal blanket for a weighted one, I imagine the benefits would be tenfold.
When you’re on the edge and when life’s many challenges make it harder for you to breathe, things can seem more overwhelming than they already are. This is when you begin experiencing symptoms of anxiety such as nausea, trembling, increased heart rate, and trouble sleeping.
The benefits of a weighted blanket can do more than just give you the comfort of an embrace. Let’s take a look at how a weighted blanket for anxiety can help and how they work.
What’s A Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is just like another blanket only albeit heavier. There’s a slight difference between a normal blanket and a heavy blanket and something you’ll probably notice when you lift the blanket. What makes weighted blankets different from other blankets is their filling.
Normal blankets use feathers and polyester for filling whereas weighted blankets use glass beads or plastic pellets as filling. Heavy blankets can also use ball bearings as filling, depending on the manufacturer. Similarly, the weight of the heavy blanket can also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, a weighted blanket can often vary between 3-30 pounds or more.
You can use a weighted blanket for anything – from comfort to decor and from easing stress to coping with sleep disorders. Some common issues people turn to weighted blankets for comfort include:
- Sleep disorders
- Autism (ASD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
How Weighted Blankets Help?
Weighted blankets are based on the theory of Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). While evidence for weighted blankets is limited, experts believe that the pressure generated by heavy blankets can stimulate and effectively address various sensory issues.
DPT works through physical touch and there have been countless studies on the benefits of DPT. Research has shown some promising results in calming one’s anxiety with DPT. This therapy works by switching your body’s response from the sympathetic nervous system (the flight-or-fight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest-and-digest response).
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our survival whereas the parasympathetic nervous system brings the opposite effect. It helps us calm the fight or flight response.
Deep Pressure therapy can give calming effects on people with sensory issues such as autism, intellectual disabilities, or similar neurodevelopmental disorders.
Again, while there is no specific research on DPT and weighted blankets, there is evidence that reveals how weighted blankets offer deep pressure relief that triggers the rest and digest response.
Weighted Blanket And Anxiety
Anxiety is a stress response. When you feel anxious, your brain communicates to your body that there’s a threat present and that it needs to enter survival mode. This activates your sympathetic nervous system – the fight-or-flight response. Sometimes, your anxiety can fade but when it lingers, anxiety can cause severe distress.
Being in a constant state of nervousness can take a toll on your mind and body. Here come weighted blankets. These heavy blankets can help you break the cycle of perpetual nervousness and allow your parasympathetic nervous system aka the rest and digest response to take control.
In a randomized controlled study, it was found that weighted blankets were effective in dealing with insomnia, psychiatric disorder symptoms, and even generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Even in a study on patients undergoing chemotherapy, it was shown that anxiety was reduced when weighted blankets were used during inpatient mental health hospitalization.
How Can You Use A Weighted Blanket?
Well, you can use a weighted blanket anytime you feel the need to be hugged or comforted. There’s no age or time to use a weighted blanket. If you’ve had a challenging day at work, you can wrap yourself in your weighted blanket and seek comfort. If you’re not able to calm your mind enough to sleep, you can cuddle under the blanket and stop your tossing and turning.
The thing that matters most when considering a weighted blanket is – well, the weight. Some people prefer a lightweight blanket while others prefer the heaviest one out there. This preference depends greatly on you!
Most manufacturers recommend starting with a weighted blanket that weighs almost 10% of your total body weight. If you’re considering a weighted blanket for someone else, then you can talk to a professional to help decide the weight of the blanket.
If you’re thinking of getting a weighted blanket for your child, then a heavy weighted blanket can be dangerous. Talk to a professional before deciding. Sometimes, certain health conditions can also prevent you from using a weighted blanket. If you have other health issues that may cause trouble by using a weighted blanket, talk to your doctor before proceeding.
These other health issues can include:
- Respiratory or breathing issues
- Circulatory issues, etc
A mental health professional can help you find other DPT techniques as an alternative.
Do Anxiety Blankets Work?
Weighted blankets are steadily gaining popularity and support. Many pieces of research have been effective in proving the benefits of weighted blankets but there’s more research needed. The weight and pressure of the weighted blankets can mimic the benefits (and effects) of deep pressure therapy (DPT) and activate the parasympathetic nervous system to counter the stress response.
When the rest and digest response is activated, symptoms and feelings of stress and anxiety can decrease. While weighted blankets do not need a prescription, it is recommended you speak to your mental healthcare provider about using one for your condition.
Some people struggling with medical issues such as breathing problems and claustrophobia can find it difficult to use a weighted blanket.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong age or time to use a weighted blanket for your comfort. Keep in mind the many benefits of weighted blankets and keeping in mind your limitations, before trying one.
I hope this blog helped you understand the importance of weighted blankets and how can a weighted blanket help with calming anxiety. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a message on our social media. You can also share your thoughts on the use of weighted blankets in the comments below.