How Do Weighted Blankets Work? How to Use a Weighted Blanket
The popularity of weighted blankets has skyrocketed in the past few years, but many people are still wondering how they work and how to use them.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Blankets bring an element of calming comfort to a lot of people — even if they don’t realize it. Weighted blankets combine the cozy comforts of regular blankets with a science-based therapy tool initially developed by an autism researcher. Like a hug, the pressure from a weighted blanket stimulates the release of oxytocin and serotonin, also known as the “love chemical” and the “happy chemical”. This phenomenon is known as Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT), which is firm but gentle contact that relaxes the nervous system.
In a study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health in 2008, adult participants who used a 30-lb weighted blanket reported lower anxiety (63%), positive calming effects (78%), lower blood pressure, and lower pulse rate. Not only can weighted blankets calm you down when experiencing anxiety, but they can also help you get a better sleep. In fact, sleep is more restorative and rejuvenating when anxiety levels are low.
Another study, published in the Journal of the Formosan Medical Association in 2016 suggested that weighted blankets may have a positive effect on people in stressful circumstances. The study found that participants who used a weighed blanket while getting their wisdom teeth removed showed a boost of activity in the part of the nervous system that takes over in times of low stress.
How to Use a Weighted Blanket
Before purchasing a weighted blanket, it’s important to ensure you know what size is right for you. The formula commonly suggested for children and young teens is 10% of the body weight plus 1 or 2 pounds. For older teens and adults,the weights of the blankets can get quite heavy. Consider consulting a healthcare professional if you are not sure which weight and size is right for you.
Weighted blankets come in a variety of sizes, weights, and materials. The fill in a weighted blanket also varies. The most common fills you will come across are glass beads or plastic pellets; however, some may be filled with other substances like rice or millet.
Once you’ve found the blanket that’s right for you, there really is no “wrong” way to use it. You can use a weighted blanket at nighttime to get a better sleep or during the day to improve your ability to focus and calm anxiety. They can be draped over the shoulders or placed on top of the body when lying down. The way one uses a weighted blanket will vary person to person depending what the user finds comforting.
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