Multiple people consistently suffer from not having a good night’s rest. Though a big part of the reason is due to physical ailments, a number of psychological causes can be defining factors as well. From insomnia to OCD, to anxiety and depression, there are numerous types of inner burdens that make it tough to sleep soundly throughout the night.
In order to help combat these, a group of experts have discovered a portable, safe, and affordable tool: the weighted blanket.
What is a weighted blanket?
These specially designed blankets, as their name suggests, are heavier than the ones we are used to. They have therapeutic purposes as the added weight is said to produce a calming effect.
These AlignMat blankets are based off a technique discovered by American scientist Temple Grandin called deep pressure stimulation or DPS. This technique allows you to feel more secure and relax your nervous system, and it was realized during a study centring on the anxiety of children falling on the autistic spectrum.
The use of weighted blankets releases oxytocin, increases the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, and do not let users feel confined or restricted in any way. The combination of these natural “feel good” chemicals allow the users to acquire a sense of calm that can help treat symptoms of autism, sensory processing disorder, depression, OCD, insomnia, and many others.
What are weighted blankets filled with?
The AlignBlanket is filled with glass beads ranging from about 2–9 kilograms in total. The blanket you choose will totally depend on your own weight as well as what level of load you are most comfortable with. It is recommended to get one that is about 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. With this in mind, blankets with only a few kilograms are ideal for children, and those that have around six kilograms or more are best for the average-sized adult.
What are the benefits of a weighted blanket?
Multiple benefits are said to be experienced from utilizing this special blanket, with some being:
- Stress management
These blankets help users feel calm, and therefore help in reducing stress or lessen the effects of a disorder that makes them hyperactive.
- Increases serotonin
This natural chemical impacts the sleep-wake cycle by regulating the different stages and depth of sleep. The science behind weighted blankets has been shown to stimulate its release, allowing the user to have a better, more peaceful sleep.
- Relaxes the nervous system
Anxiety, hyperactivity, and other issues can be triggered by a very active nervous system. With pressure applied through these blankets, your heart rate slows down, and your nervous system starts to relax with it.
- Lessens symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
RLS is a condition that brings about involuntary and rapid leg movement. Studies show that applying pressure on your legs can decrease symptoms and help users sleep without the inconvenience of waking up every now and then.
- Relieves fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a disorder distinguished by musculoskeletal pain, combined with fatigue, trouble sleeping, memory loss, and mood swings. Experts say this disorder intensifies pain by affecting the way our brain and spinal cord processes pain receptors. Weighted blankets have shown to relieve symptoms and improve the overall quality of life after long-term use. Similarly, those that suffer from arthritis can also experience the same benefits.
- Lessens seizures
Some users have reported a reduced occurrence of seizures after using a weighted blanket for a period of time. This is due to the fact that deep pressure stimulation gives a favourable effect on the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Reduces anxiety and panic disorders
Heavy blankets are known to decrease the occurrence of anxiety or panic attacks. Because it gives the user a sense of security, relaxation, and a slower heart rate, the symptoms of panic disorders and anxiety lessen as well. This can be especially helpful to those that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
- Helps manage Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is linked to having low serotonin levels. Because these pressure blankets (another term they are known by) increases the release of serotonin in the brain, symptoms of OCD are less prevalent in users.
- Helps in calming sensory and developmental disorders
Parents of children with sensory and developmental disorders reported having seen a great difference after exposing their children to a weighted blanket.
- Reduces symptoms of depression
The pressure added on your body with a weighted blanket increases the natural production of oxytocin, known as the feel-good hormone. It also decreases the release of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. This powerful combination can help one fight symptoms of depression, and also improve their overall day-to-day mood by altering their state of mind and providing ample rest at night.
- Sleep inducing
Those who opt to use a weighted blanket have found to have better sleeping cycles and an easier time falling asleep due to the boost in melatonin. Aside from sleeping more hours, there are fewer disruptions as well. This can most especially benefit users with sleeping disorders or insomnia.
How long does it take a weighted blanket to work?
Utilizing the AlignBlanket can take a little getting used to. It is recommended to use one for 21 straight nights in order to fully experience the benefits, adjust your sleep routine, and feel comfortable.
In terms of reducing pain or inducing sleep, the effects can vary from person to person but with consistency, the benefits will surface sooner than later.
Can I wash a weighted blanket?
Yes, you can! The AlignBlanket is made of polyester material and glass beads. In order to properly clean it, gently wash the blanket in warm or cold water (not hot water) without any bleach or fabric softeners. Squeeze out any excess water and leave the blanket on a clean horizontal surface. Flip it occasionally to help redistribute the beads.