What is a Weighted Blanket & The Top Benefits of Sleeping With One
If you’re an insomniac who wants to improve their quality of sleep, or you’d like to shed some of that stress and anxiety that you carry around with you, a weighted blanket might just do the trick.
What is a weighted blanket?
Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like - it’s a heavy blanket that weighs you down and exerts a gentle pressure on you.
Most weighted blankets weigh 15 pounds or more, and these are typically stuffed with plastic pellets, poly pellets or glass beads.
If you’ve got a friend or a family member who works in occupational therapy, ask them about this. Therapists have been using weighted blankets as a tool for decades now, and your friend might be able to share about their experience using these blankets.
Now that you know what is a weighted blanket, let’s move on to discuss the various weighted blankets uses and benefits!
What are weighted blankets for?
Weighted blankets are highly versatile, and they can do anything from helping you sleep better to reducing your stress levels.
If you’ve got a million things running through your mind at night, and you just can’t seem to fall asleep, a weighted blanket can help you with that.
If you keep tossing and turning throughout your sleep, and wake up feeling bleary and groggy, a weighted blanket can also help with that.
At this point, you might be wondering… what’s the science behind weighted blankets? Are these blankets REALLY that effective?
Well, when you’re using a weighted blanket, you’re basically undergoing Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) stimulation (ie: a form of deep pressure that’s exerted across your body).
When this happens, your brain starts releasing Serotonin.
This chemical has a wide variety of functions in our bodies, including modulating cognition, learning, memory, and other physiological processes. Most notably, it contributes to our feeling of wellbeing and happiness.
Now that you have more Serotonin in your system, you’ll feel happier, and more at peace. Your anxiety goes away, and you’re able to fall asleep more easily.
Think about it: it’s common for people to feel exceptionally relaxed (to the point where they drift off into sleep!) during full body massages.
If you haven’t heard of DTP, you might just conclude that massages feel good, and that they help you relax.
But now that you know how DTP works, you have a better understanding of what’s going on (internally!) that causes your body to unwind and achieve a state of calm.
Interesting to note: massages aside, it’s also possible to administer DTP via squeezing, stroking, and giving firm hugs. We’ll dive deeper into this in a bit!
Benefits of Reducing Insomnia, Anxiety, and Stress - Fall Asleep Faster & Sleep Better
If you’re an insomniac, or you encounter a great deal of stress in your everyday life, your weighted blanket will be your best friend. Read on to learn more!
1. Allows you to fall asleep faster (and better)
Okay, quick poll…
Who has felt like they’re not getting enough sleep on MULTIPLE occasions in the past six months? 🙋🏻
We’re willing to bet that 99.9% of readers raised their hands (mentally, at least).
The truth is, insomnia is a huge problem that affects people worldwide. America, for instance, loses about US$63 billion worth of productivity due to insomnia per year, with approximately one in four people developing insomnia every year.
Now, here’s the REALLY bad part:
Insomnia doesn’t just make you groggy and tired throughout the day. It also leads to other side effects such as weight gain.
Here’s how it works:
When you don’t get enough sleep, this results in your body producing more ghrelin (the hormone that tells you when you’re hungry), and less leptin (the hormone that signals that you’re full).
When this happens, your body is essentially duped into thinking that you’re hungrier than you are… and you get all sorts of cravings for fatty, sugary foods.
Long story short? If you’re getting less than six hours of sleep per night, you’ll feel like eating more, and there’s a possibility that this will lead you to become overweight or obese.
Luckily, weighted blankets are here to save the day.
If you do a Google search online, you’ll find plenty of anecdotal evidence and first-hand accounts from people who say that weighted blankets help them sleep better.
That aside, there are also several studies which have found links between the usage of weighted blankets and improved sleep quality.
For instance: a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders bills weighted blankets as “an innovative, non-pharmacological approach and complementary tool to improve sleep quality.”
This study involved participants sleeping for a week in their natural environment, and then using a weighted blanket for two weeks.
Here’s what researchers found: when participants slept with a weighted blanket, they slept for longer periods of time, and they were also less restless when they were sleeping.
2. Reduces your stress and anxiety
It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious every now and then, and it’s impossible to completely remove ALL the stressors in your life.
That said, if you’re stressed or anxious to the point where it’s affecting your daily routine, then that’s definitely something you need to address.
Despite what those online listicles say, the answer is NOT to “treat yourself” by indulging in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Instead, try using a weighted blanket, which is proven to help reduce stress and anxiety.
As we mentioned earlier, occupational therapists often use weighted blankets as a tool to regulate their patients’ mood.
And according to a study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, participants who use these blankets experience benefits such as:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower pulse rates, and
- More ideal pulse oximetry (oxygen level in blood)
These are all signs of reduced stress levels!
Weighted Blanket Benefits: Aiding With Medical Conditions
The benefits of weighted blankets don’t stop at reducing insomnia and/or chronic stress.
These blankets also help to alleviate medical conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD or PTSD. Read on to find out more!
Autism Spectrum Disorder
The first person who made the link between DPT and autism disorders was Dr Temple Grandin, a researcher who is autistic herself.
Looking back on her childhood, Dr Grandin realized that she would seek out DPT, but that she felt “over-stimulated” when someone hugged her or touched her.
Later, when Dr Grandin visited her aunt’s ranch, she was struck by how cattle who were receiving vaccinations immediately became calm after the inoculation machine administered pressure on them.
After realizing that the deep pressure from the machine had a calming effect on the cattle, Dr Grandin decided to experiment with the same concept, but on humans instead.
To do this, she built the Squeeze Machine - a deep pressure device outfitted with thick, soft padding.
Initially, the psychologists at Dr Grandin’s college didn’t approve of the machine, but after running a pilot study, Dr Grandin found that the machine did help to alleviate tension and anxiety.
More specifically: individuals with autism who were gently squeezed in the machine came away feeling more relaxed, less anxious, and more receptive to touch.
Now, you might be wondering… that’s great, but where do weighted blankets come in?
Well, weighted blankets perform the same function as the Squeeze Machine, but they have the added advantage of being cheaper and less bulky.
You might not have enough space to store a giant contraption such as the Squeeze Machine, but a weighted blanket simply goes on your bed; there’s no need to specially accommodate it.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
For those with ADHD, weighted vests are a great way of increasing concentration, and minimizing distractions.
First and foremost, a study in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy shows that participants who wear weighted vests typically have improved attention spans.
This study involved 110 children with ADHD, and researchers found that when wearing weighted vests, the children had a higher ability to stay on task. When they wore the vests, the children also processed and responded to stimuli more rapidly.
Running in the same vein, a study published in the South African Journal of Occupational Therapy Evidence also shows that ADHD learners demonstrate better in-seat behavior when they’re wearing weighted vests.
How does this work? According to the science, the deep pressure input from the weighted vest helped to regulate the participants’ responsivity to sensory information.
Now that they weren’t under-responding or over-responding to external stimuli, the participants could attend to their tasks more effectively.
While these scientific studies utilize weighted vests and not weighted blankets, the choice of which to use is really up to you.
Here, you’ll want to think about the purpose of the device. If you want to use it while you’re sitting quietly and working on your laptop, then a weighted blanket might work fine.
On the other hand, if you want to use the device while you’re doing something more active, then it makes sense to get a weighted vest, which gives you the freedom of moving around.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Last but not least, weighted blankets can also help those with PTSD.
Consider this: people who suffer from PTSD typically feel like they’re in danger, 24/7. Their systems are constantly in the “fight or flight” mode, which translates to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.
Now, if you’re in “fight or flight” mode for a short period of time, this won’t do any harm. But if you’re perpetually stuck in this state, this ends up wreaking havoc on your internal systems.
Bearing this in mind, it’s important for PTSD sufferers to learn how to regulate their nervous systems, and calm down.
They can do this using various techniques (such as counting, deep breathing), and a weighted blanket can also come in handy.
Here, the weighted blanket provides DPT to the PTSD sufferer, and effectively calms their central nervous system.
Want to start using a weighted blanket in Canada?
We’d happily go on and on about weighted blanket benefits… but the best thing you can do is to just buy a blanket and see its effects for yourself.
For many adults and kids, weighted blankets are a complete game-changer. At Hush Blankets, we’ve received so many emails from customers telling us how our blankets have changed their lives, easing symptoms of anxiety by lowering their cortisol and calming their nervous system.
The fabric of the cover is extremely comfortable and you will want to snuggle with it all night. It's completely washable and easy to dry, and it can replace your duvet on your king/queen size or even twin size mattress. Use this guide to find the right weight for you.
Plus, here’s the best part: all Hush Blankets are backed by a 100 Night Guarantee.
This means that we give you 100 nights to fall in love with your blanket. If you still aren’t feeling it by the end of those 100 nights, just return it and we’ll give you a full refund.
It’s time to get rid of your insomnia, stress and anxiety once and for all. Hop on over and get your very own Hush Blanket!
Please consult a healthcare professional if you aren't sure if a weighted blanket therapy would be good for you.