We’re all about better sleep, and better health here at the Woolroom. That’s why we wanted to tell you all about weighted blankets. You may have heard about them already but want to know a little more about how they could benefit you.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket is just how it sounds. It’s a heavy blanket that is usually filled with a material that will weigh it down such as beads or pellets.
How do weighted blankets work?
When you’re covered with a weighted blanket, it adds a comforting feeling of subtle physical pressure that leaves you feeling calm. This calming effect is caused by the principle of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) which refers to a tactile sensory input which happens when we’re hugged, held or stroked. This increases endorphine levels, slows heart rate, and decreases blood pressure in some instances. This sensation is also known to release the happy hormones - seratonin and dopamine - in the brain, reducing stress levels and calming anxiety.
What are weighted blankets used for?
Due to the calming effects of weighted blankets, they can often help people who live with:
- Chronic stress
- Anxiety and depression
- Restlessness due to developmental disabilties such as autism and ADHD
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Restless leg syndrome
What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
Better quality sleep
Stress and anxiety, whatver the source is, can often prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep. A weighted blanket could help you improve the quality and the quantity of your sleep. The deep touch pressure that occurs releases happy hormones and, let’s face it, mimics a comforting hug. When you’re cocooned in a heavy blanket, it will help you feel more relaxed and comforted, inducing a deeper, more regenerative sleep.
If sleep quality is an issue that you face on a regular basis you may want to tackle your entire sleep environment. A weighted blanket could be the starting point that helps you relax but have you also thought about your bedding? We’d recommend sleeping with natural, hypoallergenic duvets and pillows epsecially if you often find yourself getting hot and flustered at night. Natural wool bedding will keep you cool and calm throughout the night.
Reduced stress and anxiety levels
When deep touch pressure is applied in the form of a cosy, weighted blanket, something happens to our nervous system.
In fact, a study from the Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering shows that there are definite physiological effects that occur as a result of using a weighted blanket. This theory was tested in a dental clinic environment, a place where most people are a little stressed, and it was found that activity in the nervous system causing heightened stress and anxiety was lessened as a result. Impressive stuff.
What does that mean for you? The use of a weighted blanket for those that suffer with stress and anxiety may find that it helps them to relax, with the release of serotonin and other happy hormones helping you to better manage stress, sleep better, and manage symptoms of anxiety better too.
Temporarily eases pain
For those people who live with chronic pain caused by an injury or a condition, they may have to heavily rely on physical therapies and painkillers to manage their pain. Often the pain can keep you up at night or cause broken sleep.
The use of a weighted blanket may help to temporarily ease some of that pain. With the release of endorphins caused by the pressure, physical pain is eased. Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers leaving you feeling more comfortable and able to sleep.
Always make sure you check with your GP before deciding to use a weighted blanket in place of using painkillers. You may find that the use of a weighted blanket in addition to your current prescriptions could help you get a good night’s sleep.
Softens sensory overload
People who have sensory processing problems, such as those who live with autism, often find sights and sounds difficult to deal with leaving them agitated and anxious. Many people who live with sensory processing issues find their own coping mechanisms but even into adulthood this can be difficult to manage.
A weighted blanket, with all of the calming effects of deep touch pressure, can be used as an additional coping mechanism for those with sensory processing problems. The calming effects can help to soothe sensory overload, reducing the signals entering the nervous system and leaving you feeling more secure and more calm.
Are weighted blankets any good?
There are still only a small amount of studies on the effects and benefits of a weighted blanket. But the studies that have been carried out so far show that the natural effects of being cocooned in a weighted blanket can help a multitude of conditions and symptoms that many of us live with day to day. If it can ease some of your problems that stop you sleeping, why not give it a try? Just remember to check this with your GP first to make sure it’s appropraite for you. And don’t forget to check your overall sleep environment to make sure your bedroom, bedding and devices are not causing you sleep problems too.
by Marion Turner
28 May 2021