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4 Ways Weighted Blankets Can Actually Help You

4 Ways Weighted Blankets Can Actually Help You

4 Ways Weighted Blankets Can Actually Help You

March 24, 2022

TOPICS: General Health Information

Cozying up in a blanket can feel like a warm hug – and with the right blanket, it truly is. While softness and warmth are important, have you ever considered how the weight of your blanket influences your comfort? Surprisingly, a heavy, weighted blanket can offer more than just comfort; it can be beneficial for your health.

Weighted blankets come in various sizes, shapes, colors, and materials to suit your preferences. They are typically filled with tiny plastic pellets to provide the added weight. Some blankets have a few extra pounds, ideal for children, while others may have 20 or more pounds, better suited for adults.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work? When you're stressed, your heart races. At such times, it's essential to turn to stress relief techniques like deep breathing and meditation to lower your heart rate. Weighted blankets, through gentle pressure on your body, can also help calm you by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heart rate during stress.

Weighted blankets utilize "pressure therapy," exerting a soothing pressure across your entire body, akin to the comforting sensation of being hugged, swaddled, or held. The right size and weight of the blanket depend on individual needs.

Here are four conditions that weighted blankets can assist both children and adults with.

1. Anxiety Anxiety is something everyone encounters at some point – that feeling of unease and apprehension, often about future events. It can accelerate your heart rate and quicken your breath, signs that your body is preparing for stress.

For individuals with constant anxiety that disrupts daily life, it may indicate an anxiety disorder. Instead of worrying about specific upcoming events, you might excessively fret about everyday situations. This can make your body feel as if it's in a perpetual state of stress.

The autonomic nervous system, responsible for regulating basic bodily functions like breathing, digestion, and more, prepares your body for stress or relaxation based on your surroundings. This is often referred to as the "fight or flight" response.

The gentle pressure of weighted blankets signals to your autonomic nervous system to shift into "relaxation" mode, alleviating symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heart or rapid breathing. This can promote an overall sense of calm.

2. Sleep Disorders If you frequently find yourself tossing and turning in bed, you're not alone. Approximately 20 million Americans have occasional difficulty falling asleep, while over 40 million have chronic sleep disorders.

"Stress and anxiety can contribute to the onset of sleep disorders or exacerbate existing issues. However, you don't need to have a diagnosed disorder for stress and anxiety to impact your sleep. Worries about an upcoming test or presentation, for example, can keep you awake at night," explains Dr. Martin L. Levinson, MD, FACP, FCCP, a physician at Penn Sleep Center Cherry Hill.

Weighted blankets help prepare your body for sleep by calming your heart rate and breath, resulting in a state of relaxation conducive to restful sleep.

3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) "Children with ADHD struggle with self-control, particularly when it comes to focusing and sitting still. This can lead to challenges at school or home, affecting learning and relationships with friends and family," notes Dr. Levinson.

Children with ADHD are often easily distracted by their surroundings, such as ambient noises or external activities, making it difficult for them to concentrate on the task at hand, like listening to a teacher.

Weighted blankets activate the sense of touch, reducing distractions caused by other sensory stimuli, such as external sounds. This can enhance their attention span, task focus, sitting still, and reduce fidgeting. In cases where a child may not want to use a blanket at school, a weighted vest, which functions similarly, can be a suitable alternative.

4. Autism "Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often struggle with social interactions, leading to anxiety, stress, and difficulties in school, work, and public settings," explains Dr. Levinson.

The pressure applied by weighted blankets can alleviate stress for individuals with ASD, enhancing their ability to concentrate on the task at hand and providing a sense of reward.

People with ASD may experience sensory stimuli as overwhelming, such as excessive noise or touch sensations. This can hinder everyday activities, including play, work, and socializing. The gentle pressure from a weighted blanket can provide comfort, helping to mitigate sensory overstimulation and promote relaxation.

If you're interested in weighted blankets or other methods to alleviate anxiety, consider scheduling an appointment to discuss anxiety management with a Penn Medicine primary care physician online or by calling 800-789-7366.

Experience the Calmy Weighted Blanket Difference Are you curious about the benefits of a weighted blanket for anxiety and sleep improvement? Explore the Calmy Weighted Blanket by Glowco, designed to provide a calming embrace for better sleep and reduced anxiety.

This information is for general health education and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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