If you’ve ever suffered from stress, anxiety or insomnia, you know how frustrating those feelings of helplessness and panic can be.
Millions of people around the world suffer from stress and anxiety, and in the United States, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, according to the National Institute of Mental Health . Now, instead of turning to pharmaceuticals as a remedy, sufferers can try a gentler form of relief: weighted blankets.
It sounds laughably simplistic, but the act of sleeping with a weighted blanket encourages something called Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation (DTPS), a sensation similar to getting a massage. DTPS , according to Temple Grandin, Ph.D ., “is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling.”
Though DTPS is relatively new on the therapeutic scene, it is an age-old practice, lending legitimacy to the weighted blanket practice. In an article from Collective Evolution, occupational therapist Karen Moore says in psychiatric care, “weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.”
Though many of the studies surrounding DTPS are too small to be conclusive, there have been a number of successful trials, including one published in Australasian Psychiatry in 2012.
So how do weighted blankets work? Think of the pressure like a soothing hug – encouraging the production of serotonin , which is a natural mood boost. Serotonin then converts to melatonin, the same chemical naturally present in warm milk that helps the body relax.
Plastic poly pellets are the most common way to create weighted blankets; the pellets are sewn into evenly-distributed compartments through out the being sewn into compartments throughout the blanket. The weight (between 15 to 30 pounds is recommended for adults), stimulates the deep touch receptors all over your body.
Speak with your physician or mental health professional before purchasing a weighted blanket.