For many, a blanket provides not only warmth, but also a feeling of comfort and security during sleep. In addition to ordinary blankets, there are specially weighted models that have a number of advantages. They seem to imitate physical hugs, help to calm down and fall asleep more soundly.
What is a weighted blanket?
Such blankets differ, first of all, in weight — they are an order of magnitude heavier than standard bedding. Typically, weighted blankets weigh between 2 and 13 kg. They are often filled with natural materials or plastic beads to give them the texture of toys.
The extra weight adds warmth and gentle pressure to the body, which mimics a hug, a feeling of closeness when a person is covered with this blanket. As a result, according to numerous reviews and studies, weighted blankets can improve sleep, improve people’s mood, reduce anxiety, anxiety, help in the treatment of sensory disorders, including autism, ADHD.
Influence of deep sensory stimulation
Psychologists say that in the brain of every person lies the desire and need for physical connection, hugs. They are needed to maintain a healthy nervous system, for peace of mind. In practical psychology, there is the concept of body-oriented therapy, where internal problems (including stress and poor sleep) are treated with touch, massage and hugs. In this case, there is a gentle pressure on the body, which gives a feeling of warmth and security.
Such methods are especially helpful for those who suffer from restlessness and anxiety due to loneliness and lack of tactile attention. Most often these are children and adolescents, but therapy is also popular among the adult population: in the modern world, even among a large crowd of people, many feel lost and alone. This often causes stress, increased anxiety, worsens sleep.
Gentle body pressure techniques have a calming effect and have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the nervous system. At the same time, the production of endorphins increases, the heart rate decreases, serotonin and dopamine are released, and mood improves. With the help of body-oriented therapy, depression is also well treated. It is no coincidence that hug pillows, massage mattresses and wraps, anti-stress toys and weighted blankets are very popular.
The latter have been specifically designed to reduce anxiety in children and adults with sensory disorders. Here are some of the benefits of such blankets.
Reducing stress and anxiety
Regardless of age, a weighted blanket is one of the easiest and safest ways to reduce stress and relax. Studies using blankets weighing 10–13 kg showed that two-thirds of the participants experienced a marked reduction in anxiety. The subjects admitted that such blankets helped them calm down before such stressful situations as a visit to the dentist, an exam or a report at work.
The researchers noted that during the use of a weighted blanket, the nervous system in people normalizes, and they react more calmly to things that initially frighten them. At the same time, it is not necessary to spend the whole night under this blanket — sometimes it is enough to wrap yourself in it for a while to defeat stress.
Normalization of sleep
For those who often suffer from insomnia, it is quite difficult to believe that a blanket can improve sleep. But studies show that people who went to bed with a weighted blanket fell asleep much faster and calmer than under a regular one. The tight fit of the blanket to the body and slight pressure give a feeling of security, warmth and comfort.
Anxious thoughts that interfere with sleep gradually recede, and the person relaxes, and then falls asleep soundly. In addition, such blankets, according to researchers, increase the level of serotonin. This hormone is responsible for the level of melatonin, a chemical that regulates sleep.
Release hormones for health
The “hugging” of a weighted blanket releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These are two important hormones for normal brain function. Depression and stress largely develop due to the lack of these hormones in the body. Wrapped up in a heavy blanket, a person relaxes faster, which reduces the level of cortisol, a well-known stress hormone. Too much of it in the body begins to depress the immune system, increases blood sugar levels and reduces metabolism. Using a weighted blanket helps counter this, sleep soundly, and wake up easily in the morning.
Benefits for Children with ADHD and Autism
Children with ADHD or autism are often prone to anxiety and restlessness and find it difficult to sit still and concentrate during activities. Studies involving the weighted blanket have shown that with regular use of the blanket, children with ADHD and autism become calmer, socially adjusted, and attentive. Their sleep, behavior, writing skills and concentration improves.
Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
One of the most effective solutions for relieving OCD symptoms is to increase serotonin levels. This is done with the help of drugs, or natural methods. Weighted blankets are one proven way to boost your serotonin levels. They calm and relieve compulsions (periodic obsessive behavior). A weighted blanket relieves the first symptoms of disease states caused by low levels of serotonin: bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and aggression.
Help with depression
The health benefits of hugging have long been confirmed in medicine. The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket can give a person a similar sensation. This stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and promotes relaxation. In addition to neurochemical changes, weighted blankets improve nervous system function and sleep quality. With their help, depression, insomnia and states of increased anxiety are effectively treated.
Who shouldn’t use a weighted blanket?
Despite the impressive health benefits, weighted blankets are not for everyone. Since most of these products are very dense and retain heat well, they can be a health hazard for people who are sensitive to temperature changes. If a person has a chronic heart disease, problems with blood circulation, with the respiratory system, thermoregulation of the body, the onset of menopause, then it is better for him to consult a doctor before using a weighted blanket.