The Benefits of Weighted Blankets

Are you searching for a natural, non-invasive solution for anxiety, stress, and sleep issues? Look no further than weighted blankets. In this in-depth exploration, we’ll delve into the world of weighted blankets, discussing both their myriad benefits and potential drawbacks. From Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) to their impact on conditions like anxiety, insomnia, autism, and more, we’ll cover it all. Let’s dive in!

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How do weighted blankets work?

Weighted blankets work their magic through Deep Pressure Therapy, a therapeutic approach that applies sustained, deliberate pressure on proprioceptive sensors in our bodies. The result? An increase in serotonin levels in the brain, that powerful neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood and activity levels. Low serotonin levels have been linked to various anxiety disorders, making weighted blankets a potential game-changer for those seeking relief.

Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT):
The science behind weighted blankets

Serotonin is a powerful neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating various bodily functions, including mood and activity levels. Low serotonin levels have been linked to anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the effects of serotonin are complex, and increasing its levels may offer benefits beyond these disorders. Additionally, increasing serotonin levels can, in turn, reduce cortisol levels, with cortisol being the key stress hormone.

Weighted blankets, which utilize Deep Pressure Touch (DPT) therapy, have been increasingly researched as a non-pharmacological treatment for a broad spectrum of conditions in people of all ages, from children to adults. Compared to prescription medication, weighted blankets have no side effects and can be a cost-effective option in the long run.

Weighted blankets boast benefits for a range of conditions

The idea behind weighted blankets is that the deep pressure touch they provide can promote feelings of calmness and relaxation, which may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress. 

In addition, some people find that the weight of these blankets helps them sleep more soundly throughout the night. While research on the benefits of weighted blankets is still limited, many people report positive experiences with them and find them useful in managing their mental health and sleep habits.

Baloo Living Weighted Blankets

Stress and anxiety: A soothing embrace

Studies have shown as much as a 63% reduction in anxiety in adults using a weighted blanket regularly while lying down, indicating this to be a safe and effective method of reducing stress and anxiety. This reduction is not just a feeling; it’s backed by the science of increased serotonin and decreased cortisol levels. The sustained gentle pressure from weighted blankets can calm the body’s fight-or-flight response (sympathetic nervous system) while activating the opposite system—the gentle, calming parasympathetic nervous system.

Insomnia: A restful night's sleep

If you’re tossing and turning at night, a weighted blanket might be your answer. Research has indicated that using a weighted blanket can increase sleep duration and reduce overnight movement in individuals struggling with insomnia. It’s like a lullaby in the form of gentle, continuous pressure.

Autism: Comfort and calm

Occupational therapists often turn to weighted blankets to help individuals with autism manage stress and improve sleep quality. While scientific data may be limited, the positive anecdotal evidence and the similarity to Temple Grandin’s “hug machine” suggest that weighted blankets can be a valuable tool in this context.

Sensory processing disorders: Finding relief

For those with sensory processing disorders, everyday stimuli can be overwhelming, including contact from other people. This condition is particularly challenging for children, who might not have developed coping mechanisms yet, leading to meltdowns. However, a weighted blanket can provide relief from stress and anxiety caused by SPD, while also allowing the individual to self-soothe.

Fibromyalgia: Gentle relief

Affecting millions of Americans daily, fibromyalgia comes with chronic pain, often centered around specific tender point sites on the body. Myofascial release is one of the main treatment methods used to address this pain, and it involves gentle, sustained pressure at those tender point sites as well as over the entire body. Weighted blankets closely mimic this treatment, and therefore can provide much-needed relief.

Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Calm slumber

This disorder of the nervous system can keep people up at night as they experience uncomfortable sensations in their legs that can only be relieved by moving around. Weighted blankets, through their ongoing gentle pressure, have been shown to calm these sensations and provide much-needed rest for RLS sufferers.

Alzheimer's disease: Comfort in confusion

Anxiety, depression, and mood swings are very common in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, and sometimes the disease can cause confusion that drives people to lash out at their caregivers. The use of weighted blankets can help console these patients in a minimally invasive way.

Benefits of Weighted Blankets infograph

Drawbacks of weighted blankets

While weighted blankets offer numerous benefits for improving sleep and managing stress, it’s important to consider potential drawbacks. These drawbacks may not apply to everyone, but being aware of them can help you make an informed decision about whether a weighted blanket is right for you.

  • Weight: Weighted blankets are heavier than regular blankets due to the added filling material. While the weight provides the desired pressure, it can be challenging for some individuals to maneuver, especially if the blanket is very heavy. We recommend selecting a weighted blanket that equals approximately 10% of your body weight for the best experience. If you’re uncertain about using a standard weighted blanket, consider starting with a lighter option, such as Baloo Living’s mini weighted blanket. Weighing in at just 9lbs, this mini weighted blanket is an excellent choice for children or those trying a weighted blanket for the first time.
  • Heat Retention: Weighted blankets can be warm, and some people may find them uncomfortable, especially during hot weather or in warmer climates. If you tend to sleep hot, you might want to consider a weighted blanket with cooling features, such as the Nectar weighted blanket.
  • Cost: Quality weighted blankets can be relatively expensive compared to standard blankets. Finding a high-quality option that suits your budget can be a consideration when purchasing. The weighted blanket by Nest Bedding is one of the most affordable options we’ve reviewed, and its dual-sided comfort makes it a versatile option for budget shoppers.
  • Maintenance: Weighted blankets often require special care when it comes to cleaning. Many cannot be machine-washed or dried, and cleaning instructions vary depending on the materials used. This can be a drawback for those looking for low-maintenance bedding. However, many weighted blankets (including this one from Baloo Living) include loopholes that can be used with a duvet cover for easier care.
  • Safety Concerns: Weighted blankets are not suitable for everyone, particularly young children, infants, or individuals with mobility issues who may struggle to remove the blanket independently. Ensuring proper safety precautions is essential.
  • Individual Comfort: Not everyone finds the sensation of a weighted blanket comfortable. Some individuals may feel trapped or claustrophobic under the weight, while others may simply prefer the feeling of a lighter blanket. If you’re not sure how you’ll get on with a weighted blanket, look for a company that offers a sleep trial!

Is a weighted blanket right for you?

In our exploration of weighted blankets, we’ve uncovered numerous benefits, from stress reduction to improved sleep quality. However, it’s essential to consider drawbacks like weight, heat retention, and cost.

Your decision to use a weighted blanket should align with your unique needs. As they gain popularity for their affordability and minimal side effects, weighted blankets can be a valuable tool in enhancing well-being.

Ultimately, whether a weighted blanket is right for you depends on your circumstances. We hope this exploration has provided insights for your journey to better sleep and reduced stress.

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