How Do Weighted Blankets Help Relieve Anxiety

Some people dread going to bed. The moment the lights are turned off their brain switches on. Thoughts race through their mind like  they're preparing for a marathon.

It may be hard to believe, but some people have switched to using weighted blankets to calm their anxiety and promote sleep. Many have sung praises to the effectiveness of weighted blankets but how can these heavy blankets help you sleep better?

man laying in bed awake

Weighted Blankets: What's the research say?

Weighted blankets are filled with glass or plastic pellets to make them heavy - like the vests you wear during dental X-rays.  They range from five to 25 pounds (manufacturers recommend 10-12% of your body weight), and are made to cover your body so may fit a bit different to a regular blanket. 

A quick search online will reveal many options for sale. Any devotees would tell you that they ease anxiety and help you get a good night's sleep. Research studies have been small, but there have been a few takeaways:

  • In one study of 32 adult volunteers, 63% reported lower anxiety after lying under a 30-pound blanket for five minutes.
  • Another study tested weighted blankets in 30 people that had been hospitalized for a mental heath crisis and 60% reported lower anxiety after using the blanket.

Deep Pressure Stimulation

Weighted blankets are based on the idea of deep pressure stimulation - gentle pressure applied over the entire body - imitating the feeling of being swaddled or a tight hug.

The pressure applied by a weighted blanket puts your autonomic nervous system into “rest mode", reducing some of the symptoms of anxiety, such as a quickened heart rate or breathing. This can provide an overall sense of calm.

Occupational therapists have long used deep pressure touch to help calm children with autism spectrum disorders.  The resulting calm from these applications is why it's also thought to help reduce stress and anxiety in many other people, too.

Want to try one? Get your weighted blanket NOW.

Anxiety and Sleep: the bottom line

Weighted blankets are now available for less than $100, so purchasing one might just be worth it. If however, you have significant anxiety or sleep difficulties, then a blanket alone may not help. You still have to practice good sleep habits such as not watching TV or your phone in your bed, using a sleep mask  to block out light, and creating a soothing bedtime routine.

If you continue experiencing problems with anxiety, it's a good idea to see a mental health professional. They help you develop long-term strategies to manage stress and anxiety.

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