I want to talk about weighted blankets. They’re something that have been used in the special needs sector for a long time, but it has in recent years been suggested that actually these can be of a huge benefit to adults who are perhaps carrying a lot of stress or suffering with mental illness, for example anxiety, mood disorders, dementia, depression, PTSD etc.
I have been using a weighted blanket for 6 months now and it has had a massive impact on my sleep. I used to regularly wake with pain due to fibromyalgia, and in a morning I was so stiff and in pain. Since using the blanket I rarely wake in pain, and I’m much more mobile when I wake in a morning. I’ve also noticed an improvement in how long it takes to me to fall asleep, and that I sleep deeper for longer. This deep sleep is important as it can help with short and long term memory, helps restore energy, increases blood supply to the muscles and promotes growth and repair of tissue and bones. If we don’t have enough deep sleep this can be why we wake up groggy and grumpy in a morning.
This next part is the technical part about Deep Pressure and the use of Weighted Blankets.
When you apply deep pressure to the body by using a weighted blanket, weighted vest or by a full body bear hug, the body switches from running its sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to its parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). This is the switch from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest”.
The SNS is the one in charge when you’re hit with an unexpected big bill, stress at work, confrontation with someone or stuck in a traffic jam. When the SNS is in control for too long, you feel anxious, edgy, more tired than usual, snappy, irritable, digestive issues (heartburn to constipation & diarrhoea) and your sleep quality may be poor. Whether this is lack of quantity and/or quality of sleep.
The PSNS however, brings a sense of calm and peace to the mind and body. When it takes over, your circulation improves as your heart rate slows down, your muscles relax and your body produces endorphins, which are “feel good” hormones that make you feel amazing like after a big hug from a family member, or after a refreshing run. The reason these are “feel good” hormones is because they can help relieve pain and boost happiness.
As deep pressure is applied to the body, the PSNS is triggered, which brings on a sense of relaxed well-being. With this change comes a release of dopamine and serotonin, the “feel good” hormones we talked about earlier. These hormones help with motivation, impulse control, attention, memory, social behavior, sleep, and digestion.
While Deep Pressure Stimulation won’t work for everyone, and certainly isn’t a “cure” for anything, it does provide needed relief for many individuals overwhelmed by the struggle of everyday life and mental illness.
Benefits Observed With Deep Pressure Therapy
Not everyone will experience every benefit, but the potential positive effects include:
- General sense of calm that can last up to a few hours after therapy
- Decreased overall anxiety when practiced regularly
- Increased happiness
- Improved social interactions
- Increased communicativeness
- Better sleep
- Improved focus
- Decreased Depressive symptoms
- Improved pain levels
- Better digestive health
There are many places you can buy or even rent a weighted blanket from. I’ve added the link of where I got mine from as they offer a wonderful service to match you to the right product for you.
Your blanket should be approximately 10% of your body weight, and is calculated in KGs opposed to LBs usually. It is important that you do not get a blanket that is too heavy so that you cannot move from underneath it.
If you’re not sure if a blanket is right for you or you have complex medical issues. Please seek ad vice from your GP or specialist before using.
This is the website mentioned earlier.
*Neither Motherwell nor the author of this blog have received any payment for this blog or for featuring the website mentioned above.