If you’ve ever struggled with the quality of your sleep, you might have heard of a number of solutions that promise to resolve your sleep problems naturally. From natural supplements, essential oils to prescription sleep aids, there are a wide range of options available for those struggling with getting a good night’s sleep. However, one of the most promising developments in natural sleep remedies is weighted blankets and the benefits of Deep Pressure Touch on your sleep routine.
Weighted blankets are made by stitching weighted glass or plastic beads into strategically placed pockets in a traditional blanket. Weighted blankets come in a variety of weights and fabrics, with the most common fabrics being high-quality cotton, natural fiber blends, or sherpa. The use of weighted blankets as a form of sleep aid is often referred to as weighted blanket therapy.
What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
According to recent studies, weighted blankets promise several benefits for all types of sleepers. The primary benefit of weighted blankets is in the physical and psychological impacts of Deep Pressure Touch or Deep Pressure Stimulation. These terms are often used interchangeably. A weighted blanket stimulates the body to activate calming and grounding feelings due to consistent, gentle touch. Like a long hug, weighted blankets can help users feel more secure, relaxed, and comfortable through a number of subconscious benefits and body changes.
The top five benefits of weighted blanket therapy?
While weighted blanket therapy has many benefits, the positive outcomes you may experience are dependent on your needs and unique sleeping style. However, according to research, weighted blanket therapy has some primary benefits that most people report after using a weighted blanket consistently. These benefits include increasing the production of sleep-inducing hormones, reducing stress levels, encouraging better sleep habits, and alleviating chronic pain.
- Increased “feel-good” hormone production
Deep Pressure Touch or Stimulation (scientifically called proprioceptive pressure) mimics the feeling of physical affection like a hug, gentle touch, or caress. This type of sustained gentle pressure on the body releases an increase of hormones designed to promote overall feelings of wellbeing and sleep. According to research, weighted blankets promote the production of hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and melatonin (to name a few!). These hormones are all integral for reducing stress and anxiety and foster an overall healthy sleep. Here is a brief rundown of how these hormones positively impact your body as a result of weighted blanket therapy.
Oxytocin is the “love hormone.” This hormone is responsible for feelings of warmth, attachment, affection, and general happiness. This is the primary responsible used for bonding you to another person.
Serotonin is your all-around feel-good hormone! Serotonin is responsible for mood stabilization and is our personal connection hormone contributing to feelings of belonging and socialization. Synthetic serotonin is often used in prescription anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter hormone that acts as the chemical messenger between your brain and your nerves. An increase in dopamine has a calming effect on the brain and the rest of your body.
Melatonin is the sleep hormone. This hormone helps to regulate your sleep pattern and helps you to doze off naturally. This hormone can also be taken in a synthetic form to foster a better night’s sleep.
- Reducing cortisol
Cortisol is our body’s primary hormonal response to stress. An increase in cortisol can be a contributing factor in weight gain, anxiousness or depression, and an inability to fall asleep or get a restful, deep sleep. Studies have shown that weighted blanket therapy helps to reduce cortisol levels making users feel more relaxed, less stressed, and more likely to develop healthy sleep patterns.
- Ability to break poor sleep patterns including insomnia
Those suffering from insomnia understand that insomnia has a variety of patterns and no two insomnia sufferers have the same experience. For some, they have difficulty falling asleep. For others, they have difficulty staying asleep. For many, it may be a combination of a rotating myriad of sleep issues.
In a 2015 study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders, adults with chronic insomnia tracked their sleep with their usual bedding and their sleep with a weighted blanket. They recorded their experiences week by week and reported a strong correlation between a weighted blanket and a better night’s sleep.
This expert study reinforces the idea that weighted blankets impact the body’s sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Using Deep Pressure Touch to activate hormone production, weighted blanket technology lowers reactions in your body’s sympathetic nervous system while increasing the activity in the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This simultaneous action happens subconsciously and can greatly improve your stress levels and overall quality of life over time.
Impacts of weighted blankets on your sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is the central nervous system that is responsible for the stress response. This area of your central nervous system is the key driver of stress, anxiety, and restlessness. By calming the central nervous system through the decrease in cortisol, weighted blankets help to foster a sense of security and relaxation.
Impacts of weighted blankets on your parasympathetic nervous system
Your parasympathetic nervous system is the second area of the central nervous system responsible for the body’s internal functions such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Deep Pressure Touch has been shown to increase the parasympathetic nervous system’s levels of activity through the increased production of hormones such as dopamine.
- Relieves chronic pain
For those who suffer from chronic pain conditions such as Restless Leg Syndrome, fibromyalgia, or other types of chronic body pain, a weighted blanket can increase your feelings of comfort at bedtime and reduce pain. A weighted blanket can help to mimic the feelings of compression socks or other pain relief clothing without the restrictiveness or difficulty getting on and off. A weighted blanket creates a sense of gentle pressure that is evenly distributed across the body and can ease muscle, ligament, and joint pain. This pain relief, without putting pressure on any particular point of the body, is critical for those suffering from chronic body pain, especially at bedtime.
- Reduces anxiety and stress
Overall, weighted blanket users report a healthier sleep cycle and feelings of happiness and well being. The primary driver of this improved quality of life is the boost in serotonin levels. According to research, a weighted blanket can enhance feelings of calm, reduce stress, and manage mental health disorders like ADHD, OCD, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. These calming effects also have great benefits for people with autism who may find the gentle, consistent pressure of a weighted blanket to be a positive way to manage their symptoms.
Who can benefit from weighted blanket therapy?
Individuals who suffer from a number of mental, emotional, and physical challenges can benefit from the Deep Pressure Touch of weighted blanket therapy. No matter the cause or source of your sleep problems, weighted blankets can help to alleviate symptoms and help you get quality rest.
Some chronic physical challenges, sleep ailments, and mental health conditions that can benefit from weighted blanket therapy include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Helps with focus and ADHD symptoms
- Eases fibromyalgia pain and flares
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Chronic body pain
- PTSD, mood disorders, and panic disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Muscle tension
- and many more!
No matter the cause of your sleep concerns or issues, weighted blanket therapy holds promising benefits to help you get a healthy, good night’s sleep. Whether you’re looking to relieve stress, alleviate physical symptoms of a chronic disease or illness, or simply looking to invest in a good night’s sleep, a weighted blanket might be the perfect solution for your bedtime woes.