The Science Behind Weighted Blankets
By Megan | @mkinston47 | May 15, 2019
When considering the cost and benefits of a weighted blanket, there are many things to consider. A lot of people look at them as taboo or just a hoax, and more so as something that is just a waste of money that doesn’t really work. Many would say that you are right in thinking this but the fact of the matter is, there is little evidence to support this notion, and not enough research out there to contrast it either. However, the research that is out there to support the weighted blanket, and some knowledge from the neuropsychologist here, these are the reasons a weighted blanket could be a good idea for you.
1: Love Hormone - When we are stressed out or anxiety gets the better of us, a giant hug or being enveloped in an embrace is a wonderful thing. A hug, swaddle for babies, or a weighted blanket can do just that. What is does on a physiological level is releases a hormone in the brain oxytocin, otherwise known as the “Love” hormone. This in turn releases other hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine to change body chemistry. ( Woah: Whole lot of science there and we are only on point one!!) In basic English, it releases a bunch of hormones and signals in the brain to help you reduce stress almost instantaneously, by reducing your blood pressure, lowering your pulse, increasing your body temperature, and your level of affection.
2: Tactile pressure and response - another way to calm down is by using pressure points and light massaging to reduce tension and pressure in the body and mind. Acupuncture, chiropractors, reiki, and other form of holistic medicine have done this for generations. The pressure that weighted blankets put on the skin and body in various places affords for this multi-point pressure thus allowing for the release of tension.
3: Better sleep and More about tactile Pressure - Going back to tactile pressure, weighted blankets give a sense of security to the individual who is using it. More along the lines of the term “Security Blanket”. It is not an uncommon fact that heavier blankets promote greater sleep than lighter blankets. In a study conducted by the Boston School of Sleep medicine, the have shown that people who slept with a weighted blanket slept longer and in a deeper sleep than those without one. (Psychology Today, 2019). In re-test studies, they were able to see similar results showing that there is a benefit to sleep patterns to weighted blankets.
In the end, there are some great aspects to having a weighted blanket and it works or a great number of people. It can help with anxiety, stress, depressive symptoms, and a host of other issue if you are open to the suggestion of holistic medicine. The benefits of this do not hurt you to use but those that are claustrophobic, be warned, this is not the blanket for you. I hope that this helps you a little in your quest with a new weighted blanket and I look forward to continued research as it becomes available on the benefits to this new tool in the arsenal of the chronic illness warrior!!!
Megan is 31 years old, who has a passion for photography and music, and is finishing her Doctorate in Clinical Neuropsychology with a focus on prescribing. Currently she has her Masters degree in the field but don't let that fool you, she is down to earth and just loves to have a good time. She currently suffers from a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis known as Obliterative Bronchiolitis and is dependent on oxygen 24/7 but that hasn't slowed her down any. In her free time, she still rides her motorcycle, snowboards, and takes photos.
By Megan Kinston