We all know how important sleep is to our success, but while many turn to technological solutions for rest, there’s an incredible – and analog – solution that many are missing out on: weighted blankets. A convenient, soothing form of deep pressure, weighted blankets have limited popularity outside therapeutic settings, but can transform a fitful evening into a stress-free snooze session.
What Is A Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are commonly used to help autistic children and other people with sensory processing issues calm down and sleep more easily by providing comforting, heavy input. This doesn’t mean adults can’t benefit from them, though. In fact, they come in different weights and sizes to accommodate each user. The right weighted blanket is typically 10% of the user’s body weight plus 1-2 pounds.
Most weighted blankets are made of fabric split into pockets with poly pellets sewn evenly into each compartment. Though people sometimes make their own using rice or beans, these can cause the blankets to break down over time and isn’t recommended.
Take The Edge Off Anxiety
One of the main reasons that weighted blankets are beneficial for high-powered adults is that they can help ground the body and reduce stress. Essentially, when your job or home life leaves you stressed or overwhelmed, you experience increased cortisol levels that can lead to depression, anxiety, and weight gain, among other symptoms. Deep pressure touch, a form of therapy that can be simulated using a weighted blanket, helps to reduce cortisol levels and guard the body against toxic stress.
In addition to easing anxiety, weighted blankets are proven to reduce insomnia. In many ways, these blankets are a way for adults to experience swaddling – and there’s a reason that infants sleep better when swaddled. Deep pressure encourages the body to produce serotonin, which is converted to melatonin, a neurotransmitter critical to restful sleep. Considering the impact of blue light on melatonin production, namely that our technology use interferes with natural sleep cycles, we could all use that boost.
Blankets, Massage, And The World Of Deep Pressure
Ultimately, everyone has different sleep needs but weighted blankets can teach us a lot about calibrating our sleep environment. For example, do you sleep under a comforter during the summer? It’s likely tied to the need for deep pressure, however minimal that experience is with a traditional blanket. Others are much more concerned with the texture of their blanket rather than the weight of it. Like other blankets, weighted blankets are available in a range of materials to accommodate those who prefer something fleecy or would rather sleep under a basic cotton blanket.
Another reason that weighted blankets are advantageous for people with high-stress jobs is that they can simulate the feeling of traditional massage. Whether you’d hop on the table for a Swedish massage or deep massage, the goal is to reduce stress and muscle pain or tension. That’s very much what weighted blankets do as well. Adding one to your bedroom can allow you to experience the benefits of massage when there isn’t room in your budget or you don’t have time to make an appointment – or it can just extend the benefits of your regular massage practices.
Don’t discount weighted blankets as kid stuff;
they’re actually used across all phases of life and can benefit everyone from
fast-paced professionals to aging hospital patients and young children. In a
world that puts pressure on us to go, go, go, it’s always nice to reverse that
pressure and be encouraged to slow down, rest, and engage with our bodies. You
may be surprised how piling on the weight at night lets you release some of
that daytime pressure.