A warm hug can not only boost your happiness levels, but it makes you feel comforted and secure. Ever wondered how weighted blankets became the next big thing? Well, it all comes down to simple science. Sensory integration therapists are big fans of weighted blankets due to their “deep-touch pressure.” The weight helps an individual focus on a sensory experience and can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Using a weighted blanket for anxiety has many benefits. But, knowing which one to choose can be a challenge in itself. So, here’s our guide to get you started:
What are the benefits?
Although it’s hard to pin down why weighted blankets really work, the theory is all caught up in the deep pressure touch stimulation we mentioned above. The mechanics of deep pressure come down to what we each associate with compression-based touch. So hugging, massaging, and swaddling are all part of the sensation. For most of us, the feeling of pressure against our bodies helps us to relax and feel calm.
According to Dr Justin Scanlan from the University of Sydney, “deep pressure is thought to reduce the physiological arousal associated with anxiety by tapping into the autonomic nervous system (ANS.)” Although that may sound pretty heavy, Scanlan is simply referring to the way anxiety can manifest physical symptoms.
Let’s be honest, if you have anxiety you are likely to have experienced some of these physical symptoms. Your mind feels like it’s spinning every time you enter a crowded space, or maybe you start shaking when a conflict happens. Anxiety can appear in a plethora of ways – each uniquely challenging to the individual.
Rewind back to the ANS, we can’t ignore the part it plays in affecting anxiety. Stressful situations can trigger your body’s fight or flight response which in turn increases your heart and breathing rate. Physically this can appear as shortness of breath or a pounding heartbeat. At the same time, your ANS is working hard to restore and conserve your energy by slowing down your speeding heart and breath rate. An internal battle of wills if you like.
A good foundation
Children have so many responsibilities and expectations put on them from such an early age. Anything from high-pressure tests, making friends, and feeling confident at school can all burden young minds. When the stresses of daily life start affecting how they sleep, all sorts of concerns are thrown up in the air.
When anxiety starts to impact your child’s sleep, investing in a weighted blanket specifically designed for kids might well be the place to start. Not only will your child feel comforted as they sleep, but a weighted blanket can help with a broad range of sensory-related sleep issues too. Those with ADHD, autism, and anxiety can feel grounded as they sleep with the “deep touch pressure” that blankets are famed for creating.
The innovative minds in the industry have also come up with the ingenious lap pad. Perfect for children that need that extra bit of security when they are at school or traveling. Generally weighted between 5 and 15lbs, your child can wear the lap pad at school when sat in a lesson or while eating their lunch. The pressure will help them feel grounded and draw their attention away from sensory overload and help them to focus on the task at hand.
All the insomniacs amongst us will know that switching off an anxious brain is even harder at nighttime. Even when we are at our most desperate for sleep, our anxiety takes over and that much-needed sleep is so far out of reach that you’re not quite sure when your mind will rest as a result.
Weighted blankets aren’t just for children. Remember the ANS we mentioned above? That wonderful pressure that weighted blankets create essentially switches our internal “rest” mode button! Not only does the blanket cover you, but the sensation also makes you feel calmer, safer and your heart and breathing rate slows down in response. In theory, sleep will come more swiftly as your anxious thoughts subside.
Coming in a range of colours, prints, and sizes, the weighted blanket has come a long way. No longer just a plain and functional blanket, many companies have raised the bar with on-trend designs. From cot bed to king size blankets, they’re all available from a more subtle 5lbs to a well-grounded 15lbs in weight.
Are you easy to find out the benefits of a weighted blanket yourself? There’s nothing worse than missing out on a good night’s sleep. Our mood is instantly affected, and a simple hello from your spouse can feel more like a snarky comment in the morning. A weighted blanket might just be the solution you are looking for! Go on, give it a go!
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