Study shows: weighted blankets help relieve insomnia and anxiety
If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety or insomnia, then you know how hard it can be to cope with. I myself used to suffer from intense anxiety as a young adult; my mind would race down all different avenues of worry, eventually leading to the worst-case scenario, where my mind would convince itself that my worst fears would come true.
I’ve had spouses who have suffered from extreme anxiety, to the point that a panic attack would leave them incapacitated on the floor at work. When paired with insomnia, the two can literally turn you into a zombie that simply functions on auto-pilot.
Well, as it would turn out, something as simple as a weighted blanket has been shown to improve quality of life for those who suffer from anxiety, insomnia and much more.
When we’re not sleeping well, problems that normally wouldn’t arise tend to creep up on us and become serious issues. Not only does your psycho-social functioning become impaired, but you put yourself at risk for health issues like heart attacks.
DPTS, or deep pressure touch stimulation, is a type of therapy that works in a similar way as massage. The famous Temple Grandin, Ph.D., says that “Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching” and that “occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.”
How does it work?
Weighted blankets like to mold to your body shape like someone giving you a big hug. Psychiatric, trauma, geriatric and pediatric hospital units all utilize weighted blankets to help promote deep, restful sleep and to calm anxious nerves.
A light pressure applied to the body helps promote serotonin production, which is a natural mood-lifter. When the serotonin is converted into melatonin, our bodies take it as a sign to rest.
These blankets are weighted with plastic poly pellets that are sewn into various different compartments throughout the blanket that keep the blanket’s weight distribution consistent.
When our deep touch receptors are stimulated, our bodies feel relaxed and safe. A 2008 study that was published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health found that weighted blankets provided safe and effective therapy for decreasing anxiety in patients. These results were further confirmed by a 2012 study that found the blankets successfully decreased distress and visible anxiety.
Depression, anxiety, aggression, OCD, PTSD, and bi-polar disorder all have been correlated with low serotonin levels in the brain. Weighted blankets have been reported to also help patients who suffer from autism, Tourette’s, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, and even menopausal symptoms.