How do Weighted Blankets work?
Weighted blankets have been increasing in popularity and are becoming mainstream. Once used almost exclusively in special-needs communities (weighted blankets were originally developed as a treatment for some of the anxiety tendencies associated with people diagnosed with autism), many people are now using weighted blankets to improve sleep and help reduce anxiety, stress and other related disorders - weighted blankets are being used to reduce or manage the symptoms of autism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders and nervous system disorders. The added weight of the blanket calms the nervous system and has an organizing effect on the brain.
So what exactly is a weighted blanket you ask?
Weighted blankets are blankets lined with weights designed to provide gentle pressure to the body. There are a number of considerations when choosing a weighted blanket as they can have many therapeutic benefits.
How do weighted blankets work? What's the science behind it all?
Weighted blankets work by applying pressure to the body's sensory receptors. This is called Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). This pressure feels like you are being hugged which releases hormones in the body, and helps you feel more relaxed and in a better mood.
Encourages oxytocin production
DPT mimics the feeling of being hugged and this deep pressure in turn releases the hormone oxytocin. This hormone helps reduce blood pressure, slows the heart, and provides a feeling of relaxation. The weighted blanket essentially imitates the warmth and security that a hug provides. Both the blanket and hug use a gentle, firm pressure that goes deep within the body giving a sense of repose that allows the body to relax.
Some researchers have found that pressure put on the body in certain areas triggers the release of chemicals in the brain, including serotonin. Serotonin is known as the "happy" hormone, so it's release triggers a reduction in stress with improved mood.
Release of melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that promotes sleep and helps regulate the sleep cycle. This hormone is linked with the production of serotonin, so that the pressure that triggers serotonin production also leads to melatonin production and therefore improved sleep.
The blanket is thought to create a sense of being swaddled, and the physical connection that the person feels with the blanket gives a sense of warmth and safety. This together with the release of melatonin, eases the mind and the body can relax.
With these hormones working together, the benefits of weighted blankets are many. These include feeling less stressed and more relaxed, be in a better mood and have better sleep cycles - all needed to improve health and wellness. Learn more about weighted blankets to choose the one that is best for you.
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