The popularity of weighted blankets has increased dramatically over the last couple of years… for good reason. Their benefits are many for all age groups.
In this post, I have outlined the top weighted blanket benefits and believe me when I say that you’re going to want one. At least that’s how I felt when I started learning about them!
What are Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are what they sound like. They’re usually large, duvet style blankets that have certain substances added to make them heavier (such as glass, plastic, rice).
And just like regular blankets, they come in different sizes and any pattern or design you can imagine.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
I remember spending nights at my grandmothers’ house during the cold months. She lived in North Carolina in the heart of the Smokey Mountains.
It got really cold there because she didn’t have central heating. So she would cover me up with these thick quilts that were really heavy and felt like they were holding me down in the bed. And you know what?
They made me feel safe.
At the time I didn’t know why.
But the reason I felt so secure was because of deep touch pressure therapy.
Deep touch pressure therapy or DPT for short is a type of tactile sensory input which basically means the act of stroking or holding firmly, similar to a tight hug, squeeze or close cuddle.
Who doesn’t love a good hug or cuddle?!
There is just something about it. It lightens your mood and makes you feel loved, safe and secure.
The science backs this too. When we get deep touch therapy or a good ole’ fashioned squeeze, our brain releases serotonin and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters that make us feel calm, relaxed and happy.
And we could all use a little more of that in our lives.
So now that you understand DPT and why it works, let’s dive into the benefits of owning a weighted blanket.
Weighted Blanket Benefits
Decreases Stress and Improves Mood
Anyone can get the blues. But it’s more noticeable today then it ever has been before.
Because of our hectic, day to day lifestyle, we are constantly being bombarded with stress. And most of us caffeine it up to get through our days.
This combination depletes our levels of serotonin and dopamine, both of which we need to feel happy. And increases our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Weighted blankets can help though.
When used regularly, they can boost serotonin levels in the brain and also reduce cortisol. The result is an improved mood and overall happier feeling.
Improved Sleep Quality
Does this sound familiar?
You’ve finally made it through a stress filled day – finished a difficult day at work, gotten the kids asleep, cleaned up the house, had a little bit of time to yourself and crawled in to bed only to be… wide awake.
If left untreated or becomes chronic, lack of sleep can affect your mood, your daytime productivity and your overall health. There’s even evidence that lack of sleep can increase your incidence of cardiovascular disease.
There was a period of time in my life when I would go to bed at 11pm and wake up for 4am. I did this for about a year and I can honestly say all of the above is true.
I thought I was giving myself more time in the day but I found myself doubling my coffee consumption and I became very snappy with my wife and children. At one point I even experienced weird sensations around my heart and developed palpitations.
Needless to say, I decided to sleep more hours during the night. A few months later all my symptoms subsided.
If you struggle to go to sleep or stay asleep, a weighted blanket can definitely help!
The pressure from the blanket creates a sense of security and calms the mind. This encourages serotonin production which naturally converts to melatonin which is the hormone responsible for our sleep cycles.
Helps With Restless Leg Syndrome
Like it sounds, restless leg syndrome is a disorder that causes someone to constantly feel like they need to move their legs.
It’s difficult the pinpoint the cause as it can be different for everyone. Medications, hereditary disease, pregnancy and hormonal imbalances are all some of the possible underlying reasons.
Obviously it’s important to try and treat the underlying reason for the restless leg syndrome, but many people have found relief using a weighted blanket.
The weight from the blanket helps to minimize leg movement and calms the mind, leading to a better nights sleep.
Anxiety is a growing problem in North America. It’s estimated that over 40 million people in the United States alone (that’s almost 20% of the population) suffer from some sort of anxiety.
That’s crazy. It’s getting worse every year too.
I talk about several ways to reduce anxiety naturally in this article here, but having a weighted blanket around to wrap up in or lay under can help you to feel safe and secure while reducing anxious thoughts and feelings.
It’s like having a big hug available anytime you need it.
Can Help With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder
Our sensory process is the way in which our brain decodes and responds to information that it receives from our senses (touch, sound, taste, sight, smell).
Sensory processing disorder is when that process isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.
For instance, a child with this disorder may find a certain sound irritating, or a texture may be unpleasant such as the feeling of a certain food in his or her mouth.
And too much over stimulation can cause a build up of anxiety and irritability eventually leading to blow ups and uncontrollable fits and tantrums.
How does a weighted blanket help?
There is some compelling, anecdotal evidence that the weight of the blanket helps to instill feelings of safety and security by giving a “cocooning” or wrapped up feeling to some children. Like a firm hug from a concerned, loving parent.
The Bottom Line
Weighted blankets are awesome. They’ll make you (or your children) feel safe, comforted and relaxed. They will also help you get a better nights sleep and improve your overall mood.
If you don’t already have one, take a look at one of my favorites, here.