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Anyone who suffers from the above disorders knows the word “simple” doesn’t quite fit with how they feel. In fact, it seems to be very much the opposite: a complex feeling that can barely be put into words. So, how can something as simple as sleeping with weighted blankets be a plausible solution to stress, anxiety, insomnia, and more?
Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation
Called deep pressure touch stimulation, (or DPTS), this type of therapy is similar to getting a massage. Pressure is exerted over the body and provides both physical and psychological benefits. Deep touch pressure, according to Temple Grandin, Ph.D., “is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling.” In comparison to very light touching, which has been found to alert the nervous system, deep pressure proves to be relaxing and calming.
Weighted blankets have been traditionally used by occupational therapists as a means to help children with sensory disorders, anxiety, stress, or issues related to autism, and research continues to support this practice. One study, using the Grandin’s Hug Machine device, which allows administration of lateral body pressure, investigated the effects of deep pressure as a tool for alleviating anxiety related to autism. The researchers found “a significant reduction in tension and a marginally significant reduction in anxiety for children who received the deep pressure compared with the children who did not.”
Of weighted blankets specifically, occupational therapist Karen Moore says in psychiatric care, “weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.”
One study, published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health in 2008, showed that weighted blankets helped with anxiety, and another study published in Australasian Psychiatry in 2012 confirmed this.
How Weighted Blankets Work
Weighted blankets are like warm hugs. They mold to your body to provide pressure that aids in relaxing the nervous system. Think of it like a baby being swaddled — the weight and pressure work to comfort and provide much-needed relief, encouraging the production of serotonin in order to uplift your mood. This same chemical naturally converts to melatonin, which signals your body to rest and relax. Weighted blankets are perfect for anyone looking to try out a non-drug therapy that is both safe and effective.
To weigh the blankets down, plastic poly pellets are typically used, being sewn into compartments throughout the blanket for even weight distribution. The weight of the blanket serves as a deep touch therapy, stimulating deep touch receptors all over your body that promote a more grounded and safe feeling to the individual.
How To Get And Use A Weighted Blanket
Though the weight of the blanket depends on your size and personal preference, a standard weight for adults ranges from 15 to 30 pounds. It is recommended to speak with a doctor or occupational therapist regarding using one if you are suffering from a medical condition. It is also strongly advised not to use a weighted blanket should you be suffering from a respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problem.
As for where you can buy them, there are many websites you can purchase them from, providing you with different weights, fabrics, colors, and sizes to personalize your experience. You can even make your own as well.
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