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Anxiety is a big problem in today’s world—one that’s been made worse by our increasing reliance upon technology and addiction to social media. In fact, about 40 million of us suffer from the disorder, says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Don’t worry! There’s good news, too. Anxiety is highly treatable. From medications to cognitive behavioral therapy to meditation, there are a host of helpful options from which to choose. In fact, one of the latest worry-busters to break into the market is the weighted blanket for anxiety.
An increasingly popular coping tool, these blankets are cropping up all over the online marketplace, with thousands of positive reviews from happy and relaxed customers. From their ability to relieve symptoms of everything from insomnia to PTSD to rare connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, weighted blankets are showing promising results.
Will a weighted blanket for anxiety work for you? It just might. Read on to learn more.
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What Is a Weighted Blanket for Anxiety?
Remember those days when you swaddled your baby to help him or her sleep more soundly? Ever seen the weighted vests used to help calm autistic children? A weighted blanket works on a similar premise.
The blanket, which is most often made from breathable cotton, has small pellets or weighted chains woven into the fabric to help evenly distribute the weight. The goal: to be heavy enough to provide a comforting weight across the entire body as you lay down to sleep. The heavier the blanket, the more cocooned you’ll feel and the less able you’ll be to thrash around when you should be sleeping.
How Heavy Is a Weighted Blanket for Anxiety?
Weighing anywhere from four to 30 pounds, a weighted blanket is much heavier than your usual duvet. Aim for one that’s 10 percent of your body weight, say researchers. Any more could be uncomfortable and restrict your movement too much, while any less may not have the desired relaxation effects.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
The theory behind the weighted blanket is simple: “grounding” your body (i.e. pushing it downwards) will help you feel more relaxed, reducing anxious feelings and making it easier to fall asleep. According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, “grounding the human body to earth (“earthing”) during sleep reduces night-time levels of cortisol [the stress hormone] and resynchronizes cortisol hormone secretion more in alignment with the natural 24-hour circadian rhythm profile.”
WHERE CAN I BUY A WEIGHTED BLANKET FOR ANXIETY?
A weighted blanket will cost anywhere from to $49 to $249 or more. Here are a few sites to consider when searching for yours:
- The Gravity Blanket
- Amazon.com (Blanquil, Premium Health Calmforter, YnM Weighted Blanket or Magic Weighted Blanket)
- The Ms. Bliss aromatherapy weighted blanket
In other words, being “grounded” allows you to relax enough to reset your internal clock and potentially keep your stress hormones under control while you sleep. The researchers also found that “grounding” can improve sleep while reducing pain and stress.
The weight of the blanket can also simulate the pressure associated with deep pressure touch (DPT) therapy, which uses strong, hands-on pressure to relax and treat chronic stress and anxiety. The more relaxed you are, the more easily you’ll sleep.
A 2015 study of insomniacs found that those who used a weighted blanket fell asleep more easily, slept longer, and moved less in bed than those who used regular blankets. They also said they felt more refreshed upon waking.
What Are the Other Benefits of a Weighted Blanket for Anxiety?
As mentioned above, research on weighted blankets is still in the infancy stage. What we know for sure is that these blankets help many people to feel calmer, safer, and more relaxed. The blankets are warm and heavy, which can put a person at ease. Using a weighted blanket can mimic the responses elicited by a hug—a rise in oxytocin, the so-called “love” hormone, that helps lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, and increase our bond with others.
Some also say a weighted blanket for anxiety can increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle. Others tout its ability to promote a release of serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel happy. Still more believe that using a weighted blanket can release stress.
While all of these benefits seem logical, we’re waiting for more studies to prove the overall efficacy of a weighted blanket.
Do Weighted Blankets Really Work?
A few small studies—some backed by companies that make weighted blankets—have found that using weighted blankets can induce calm, relieve stress, and improve sleep. Sixty-three percent of those studied by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, for example, experienced lower anxiety after using a 30-pound weighted blanket. They also found that 78 percent of people preferred using the weighted blanket over other therapies to induce calm.
Another study of children with autism spectrum disorder and severe sleep problems, however, found no improvements in either the time it took to fall asleep, sleep duration, or sleep quality when using a weighted blanket. Despite the lack of results, both the children and their parents favored using the blanket over not having one.