Top 3 Benefits of Weighted Blankets
There are many benefits to using a weighted blanket, ranging from improved sleep to calming down an anxious mind. Weighted blankets are like a warm hug for your whole body, and they also have health benefits that are backed by science.
Weighted blankets use the simple science of improving production of healthy hormones that regulate our mood and sleep patterns. Increasing pressure on the body, which is what the blanket does with its extra weight, produces these hormones. Let’s learn more about those processes in this article.
1. Weighted blankets can reduce anxiety
Weighted blankets may help with reducing the symptoms of anxiety. The extra weight in the blankets produces “deep touch pressure”. Deep touch pressure has been shown to promote calmness and reduce anxiety.
One study found that 63% of people who used a weighted blanket reported lowered anxiety after use. Deep touch pressure affects the part of your nervous system that controls breathing and heart rate. Using this type of deep pressure can help to regulate both of those processes, which in turn, reduces those anxious feelings.
The increased pressure on certain points of the body can lead to an increased production of serotonin, which is your body’s “feel-good” hormone. The combination of increased serotonin production and deep touch pressure contributes to an overall feeling of relaxation and calmness when using a weighted blanket.
Similarly, weighted blankets can reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” and is often elevated in people with anxiety.
Cortisol is also known as the “fight or flight” hormone, and has been very helpful throughout human history to keep us safe. It’s totally normal for cortisol to be released in certain stressful situations - say, getting chased by a tiger - however, chronically high cortisol levels are becoming more common in today’s modern society.
While we aren’t often put in chased-by-tiger situations, we do have other daily stressors that keep our cortisol levels higher than they should be, such as getting stuck in a traffic jam or dealing with some family drama.
High cortisol levels are linked to various health problems, so anything we can do to keep that cortisol in check is a good thing!
2. Weighted blankets help with insomnia
If you’re one of the 30% of American adults who suffer from insomnia, you know how much a good night’s sleep matters. Studies have shown that people who use a weighted blanket have improvements in sleep quality and overall sleep time.
The mechanism behind this is similar to that of reducing anxiety. As the weighted blanket applies deep touch pressure, your body produces more serotonin. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, which is the main sleep hormone. Melatonin tells your body that it’s time to relax and get to sleep.
One study done on college students found that using a weighted blanket showed improvements in both sleep quality and anxiety symptoms.
Some people with insomnia symptoms have trouble falling asleep, while others have trouble with staying asleep throughout the night. A weighted blanket can help with both of those dysfunctions in sleep patterns.
3. Weighted blankets can help with Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) affects more than 3 million people in the United States per year, and can easily transform from a minor annoyance to a condition that significantly decreases quality of life.
RLS is a neurological condition that can be described by an uncomfortable, unpleasant, and uncontrollable urge to move or twitch the legs. When consumed by these symptoms, people have a hard time sleeping and may be at increased risk for depression.
There is no known cure for RLS, but many things can help, including weighted blankets. Many people with RLS only have symptoms at night, or when trying to fall asleep.
The deep touch pressure that a weighted blanket provides can cause RLS symptoms to subside, which helps improve sleep quality. Some studies have linked RLS to anxiety, so this may be another reason why weighted blankets can help with RLS.
Deep touch pressure can create both physical and psychological benefits, which is perfect for someone with RLS.
Did you know?
The hug machine—a deep-pressure device designed to calm hypersensitive persons—was invented by Temple Grandin while she was in college at Colorado State University.