Over 40 million adults in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder, representing 20% of the population. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health note that one-third of the population will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime. Still, many other people suffer from acute anxiety, stress that occurs periodically but not recurring frequently enough to be considered a disorder.
For those suffering from anxiety, there are many tools that can be used to help alleviate the symptoms. One that is increasing in popularity is weighted blankets. Let’s take a look at weighted blankets and how they can help reduce anxiety.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
Quite simply, weighted blankets are blankets that have weights added to them in order to make them heavier. They are often used for various therapeutic purposes. The weights inside these blankets are typically spaced out symmetrically across the blanket in order to create consistent pressure.
Weighted blankets are often used to help people with a variety of conditions. Those suffering from stress and anxiety are the most frequent users; however, weighted blankets can also be effective tools for assisting people with sleep disorders, autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Still, other people use weighted blankets just because they find the comfortable.
How Weighted Blankets Work
Weighted blankets work to reduce anxiety and stress through a technique known as deep pressure stimulation. Essentially, the weights in the blanket serve to create a greater amount of pressure, distributed evenly across where the blanket is placed. This type of stimulation has been shown to relax the nervous system through the manipulation of different hormones.
Specifically, weighted blankets serve to increase the amounts of dopamine and serotonin in the body while reducing the amounts of cortisol. Dopamine is a hormone associated with the feeling of pleasure while serotonin is a hormone that functions as a mood stabilizer. Meanwhile, cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. Ultimately, the combination of these affects on these three chemicals serves to encourage the body to feel a greater sense of calmness.
Benefits of Weighted Blankets
There are a variety of benefits that are experienced by many people through the use of weighted blankets. Below are some of the most frequently cited ones.
- Calmness. The most common reason that people use weighted blankets is to promote calmness. This is a major reason that adults and children alike enjoy these blankets.
- Improved Sleep. Many people find that use of a weighted blanket can help them fall asleep and stay asleep. It also often reduces restlessness at night. This is one of the major reasons why weighted blankets are often used to help people suffering from sleep disorders.
- Promotes Parasympathetic Nervous System. The nervous system is divided into two components, the sympathetic (responsible for alert functioning) and the parasympathetic (responsible for rest). Weighted blankets help promote the functioning of the latter, enabling people to reduce anxiety and recharge.
- Reduces Heart Rate. Weighted blankets have been shown to reduce resting heart rate, which is one way to illustrate their abilities to address symptoms of high anxiety.
- Decrease Panic Attacks. Research suggests that the use of weighted blankets can reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks for individuals by facilitating a more typical state of rest and awareness.
- Provides Comfort & Security. The pressure created when using weighted blankets helps to provide a sense of comfort and security. This can be particularly impactful for people experiencing sensory processing disorders, particularly young children.
- Improved Communication. Children on the autism spectrum often see improved communication when utilizing weighted blankets. It is believed that the deep pressure stimulation may result in greater communication by reducing anxiety that is interfering with communicative processes.
What Should I Look for in a Weighted Blanket?
One question that many people have when deciding to try out a weighted blanket is what things they should look for when purchasing their first weighted blanket. There are a variety of things that you should look for. The most important consideration is weight. You ideally want a weighted blanket that weighs enough to create the deep pressure stimulation but doesn’t weight so much that it becomes uncomfortable or restricting. For this reason, many people prefer starting out with a blanket that weighs between 10 and 15 pounds.
Perhaps the second most important factor when selecting your blanket is the overall size. Ideally, a weighted blanket should fully cover your body from your neck to feet without leaving a lot of room left over. Width usually isn’t an issue; however, you want to make sure that the blanket has enough length to be able to sufficiently cover you.
Finally, an important consideration for weighted blankets is the fabric. After all, it is important for a weighted blanket to be comfortable. Ideally, you’ll want a soft outer fabric that is pleasant to the touch. Cotton is often a preferred inner lining as it is durable and holds up quite well over time. Cotton is also very easy to clean.
Where Can I Find a Quality Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are excellent tools that help many people to reduce their overall level of anxiety, achieve more restful sleep, and improve their overall wellness. By taking advantage of the biological response to deep pressure stimulation, a weighted blanket can feel like a relaxing hug, helping to provide natural relief without the need for more drugs or chemicals.
For those wanting to try out weighted blankets, Aculief has recently unveiled our new weighted blanket. This product is made with the highest quality fabric to ensure a long-lasting product. At 12 pounds, it provides the ideal weight for adults and children to attain the benefits of anxiety relief. Additionally, the blanket is double-sided, providing versatile options. If you’d like to try out a weighted blanket, we believe you’ll love this one!