Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high amongst American adults. For many, medical treatment is not a financially feasible option. For others, they seek solace through more “natural” paths of treatment. In addition to other non-medicinal forms of anxiety reduction, some people are actually finding stress relief under the covers…
Blankets Aren’t Just for Babies
Many parents reap great success from swaddling their newborn infants. Taking a blanket and tightly (not too tightly!) wrapping the baby’s body from chest-to-toe may allow him to sleep better. It is thought that creating pressure and providing that “snug” sensation encourages the natural production of sleep-related chemicals.
A similar effect can be generated from using a weighted therapy blanket. Many children on the Autism spectrum benefit from using weighted blankets. Their anxiety levels often decrease; one reason could be from the increased production of oxytocin.
Oxytocin is produced and released into our body (brain) when we hug one another. The gentle pressure sensation from a weighted blanket can mimic a hug or a cuddle, helping to reduce blood pressure and stress responses. Consequently, cortisol levels can also decrease, leading to an increase in serotonin production.
Can a Weighted Blanket Help Me?
Research published in the Journal of Psychiatric Services showed that over 8 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of intense stress. In the study out of New York University’s Lagone Medical Center, the stress was defined as a mental health issue, aptly named serious psychological distress (SPD). Other findings in the study revealed about 10% of those Americans suffering from SPD could not afford psychiatric medications.
Alternate forms of treatment to reduce stress are always being sought. The three main priorities in obtaining a healthier, calmer body and mind are: a nutritional diet, exercise, and proper rest. But what if falling asleep and staying asleep all night are a tremendous challenge?
Using a weighted blanket at night may promote better overall rest. Some attest that their children fall asleep more quickly and sleep for longer periods with a blanket. (By the way, a weighted blanket should be comfortable and not too restrictive. It should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight.)
You can do an Internet search for a multitude of different weighted blankets on the market for sale. Some are more expensive than others due to the materials they use. Some insurance plans may even cover a portion of the cost if the blanket is being used for medical reasons. A new Kickstart has been raising money for a “Gravity Blanket” and seems to have garnered a large following.
Various companies and studies will make claims about the stress-reducing benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket. A 2014 study in the journal Pediatrics showed that use of a weighted blanket did not necessarily help children on the Autism spectrum sleep longer. However, when the children and the parents were given a choice to sleep with the weighted or regular blanket, they favored the weighted blanket by far.
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Neumann, ID. Cell Metabolism. Oxytocin: the neuropeptide of love reveals some of its secrets, 2007.