So, you’ve heard of the weighted blanket fad and are wondering what’s the big fuss? You’re thinking it’s just another trend that will end soon and has no actual effect. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.
What is a weighted blanket?
First things first, for those of you who have never heard of it: weighted blankets are comforters that have plastic or sand pallets and are heavier than a regular blanket. The weight varies depending on individual needs. Recommended weight is about 15% of your body weight. The theory is that the weight helps the body calm down and relieves stress.
Sensory therapy is a very well-known and common approach in medical practice. It’s based on the awareness of sensory difficulties and the effect that a lack/excess of sensory stimulation can have on one’s behavior and well-being. Tactile stimulation is just one of the sensory stimulation therapies that have to do with applying pressure, massaging, firm holding or manipulating objects. The tactile sensory information is processed in the brain. The human brain has developed two different pathways through which it processes tactile information:
The sensory pathway. This pathway processes the mere facts of the touch – it’s location, pressure, vibration, etc.
The emotional and social pathway. This pathway activates regions of the brain that are associated with pain or pleasure, it sort of gives value to the touch.
By applying pressure, or in the case of a weighted blanket, weight, we help stimulate feelings of relaxation, calmness, togetherness. This has an effect on the release of hormones like dopamine and serotonin which administer relaxation. The groundedness and feeling of being weight down help the body calm down and allow the mind to find the grounds to start calming down too.
Who can benefit from using a weighted blanket?
There have been quite a few studies conducted that explored the benefits and effects of the use of weighted blankets. You can read more on sites such as Sustainable Planet. Results show that the use of such a blanket can help reduce stress, improve the quality of sleep and even help reduce anxiety.
The benefits of the weighted blanket can be widely applied to a large population, as it not only reduces stress but affects the release of happy hormones.
The weighted blanket has been proven to be useful for:
- Children on the autism spectrum
- Children with developmental disorders
- Children with ADHD
- Individuals with sensory processing issues
- Individuals that suffer from insomnia
- Individuals that suffer from an anxiety disorder
- Individuals that suffer from depression
- Individuals that suffer from panic disorders (ex. claustrophobia).
Is it the cure you’ve been looking for?
Even though there is proof that using a weighted blanket is beneficial for a lot of different conditions, it is not a cure. It does, however, provide instant relief and can definitely improve the quality of life and well-being of a lot of individuals. In combination with other scientifically proven treatments, a weighted blanket can really save you lots of sleepless nights and restlessness.