Why People Weight

So you’ve been bitten by the curiosity bug and want to know why  people use weighted blankets. You may also be wondering, “What benefits am I missing out on?” Don’t worry, we have you covered. There are many reasons why people are attracted to weighted blankets and often times, it isn’t just one thing. We identified some of the more popular reasons and benefits and we will take a deeper look into each one.

Improved Sleep

Weighted blankets have already helped many get a better night sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. OK, but you might be asking yourself, how? That is a great question! Besides general comfort, here are eight reasons weighted blankets may help. You may notice that many of these are similar to swaddling an infant for sleep. Don’t we all want to sleep like a baby?

  • Weighted blankets provide deep pressure stimulation (DPS) or deep touch pressure (DTP) to the body. This gentle pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. The increase of these chemicals can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calmness conducive to falling asleep.
  • Regulation of the autonomic nervous system. The pressure applied by the weighted blanket can help regulate the autonomic nervous system which is responsible for controlling involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate and respiration. This regulation promotes a parasympathetic state, often referred to as the “rest and digest” mode. The rest and digest mode is essential for relaxation and sleep.
  • Increases melatonin production. Not only does the deep pressure stimulate serotonin and dopamine, but it can also stimulate the release of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Elevated melatonin levels signal to the body that it is time to sleep and con help improve sleep onset and overall sleep quality.
  • Reduce tossing and turning. The even distribution of weight across the body helps minimize excessive tossing and running during the night, leading to less disruption in sleep.
  • Alleviates restlessness. For individuals that battle restlessness or fidgeting during sleep, the gentle pressure of a weighted blanket can provide a sense of ground and stability, thus reducing these disruptive movements. Reducing these movements lead to less disruption in sleep and better sleep continuity.
  • Provides a sense of security. The sense of being wrapped or hugged by a weighted blanket can evoke a feeling of safety and comfort. This helps ease feelings of vulnerability and promote relaxation.
  • Weighted blankets can be beneficial for individuals experiencing certain types of pain. The pressure may help relax muscles and reduce discomfort.
  • Finally, managing sleep disorders. Weighted blankets can be particularly helpful for individuals with sleep disorders like insomnia or restless leg syndrome. This can be a good alternative to a non-invasive and drug-free method to improve sleep quality, but may not help everyone. It is always best to consult a health care provider to see what options are viable for your sleep disorder.
It is important to note that while many people find weighted blankets effective for improving sleep, individual responses can vary. If you have a specific sleep concern or medical condition, we advise consulting with a health care provider to determine if a weighted blanket is suitable for your needs.

Anxiety and Stress Reduction

Weighted blankets help reduce anxiety and stress through a phenomenon called Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) or Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). This is also how it helps people sleep. How does the DPS or DTP phenomenon work?

The gentle and even pressure provided by a weighted blanket creates a sense of comfort and safety, similar to the feeling of a warm embrace or hug. This pressure actives the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to the “rest and digest” system, which helps counteract the body’s stress response.

The pressure from the weighted blanket can stimulate the production and release of serotonin. Serotonin is known as the “happy hormone” and plays a crucial role in regulating mood. In addition to serotonin, the blanket may also trigger the release of dopamine, which is associate with pleasure and reward. Increased levels of dopamine can lead to a sense of contentment and reduced anxiety. Lastly, it may help lower cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. Cortisol is responsible for the body’s fight-or-flight response, and elevated levels of cortisol can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.

DPS provides a grounding effect, which can help individuals stay present and focused on the immediate sensations rather than becoming overwhelmed by anxious thoughts. For individuals with sensory processing difficulties or sensory sensitivities, the weight of the blanket can help regulate sensory input and provide a sense of predictability and stability, reducing anxiety related to sensory overload.

Finally, simulating physical touch. The feeling of being gently held or swaddled by a weighted blanket can simulate the sensation of physical tough, which is known to have numerous calming and stress-reducing effects. This is one reason why infants are swaddled for sleep.

It is important to note that while weighted blankets can be helpful tool for managing anxiety and stress they are not a replacement for professional mental health care. Weighted blankets can used as part of a broader self-care routine, but are not a substitute for mental healthcare.

Enhanced Mood

Using a weighed blanket may help you release serotonin, dopamine. Serotonin is associated with feelings of well-being, calmness, and relaxation, while dopamine is linked to pleasure and reward. It also may help you lower cortisol levels, which is associated with stress. With the increase of “happy” hormones, reduction of cortisol levels, and improved sleep, many individuals report better moods. Weighted blankets can contribute to emotional regulation by promoting a sense of stability and calmness. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with mood swings or have difficulty managing intense emotions.

Alleviate Sensory Processing Issues

Through Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) or Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) helps alleviate sensory processing issues. For individuals with sensory processing issues, the nervous system may struggle to process and interpret sensory information from the environment effectively. This can lead to sensory overload, hypersensitivity, or sensory-seeking behaviors. The gentle, even pressure from a weighted blanket provides DPS, which helps regulate sensory input. This can result in a calming effect and a more organized sensory response.

Weighted blankets also provide proprioceptive input, which is sensory information received through pressure on the muscles and joints. This input is essential for body awareness and spatial orientation. The pressure from the blanket helps individuals with sensory processing issues to feel more grounded and connected to their bodies.

Some individuals with sensory processing issues may engage in sensory-seeking behaviors to fulfill their need for sensory input. Weighted blankets can meet this need in a more controlled and organized manner. The deep pressure from the blanket can satisfy the sensory-seeking urge, reducing the need for more disruptive or less effective sensory-seeking behaviors. Weighted blankets also reduce sensory overload. Sensory processing issues can lead to sensory overload, where an individual becomes overwhelmed by sensory stimuli. The calming effect of a weighted blanket can help reduce sensory overload. Individuals with sensory processing issues may lack focus and attention. By managing the sensory processing issues, the weighted blanket may increase and individual’s focus and attention.

It is not uncommon for a parent to get a weighted blanket for their child with Autism to help with sensory processing issues. However, keep in mind a weighted blanket may not work effectively for autistic people who have sensory issues with heavy touch. As always, consult with your health care provider for the best options.

Pain Relief

It is important to note that while weighted blankets can be helpful for managing pain, they are not a substitute for medical treatment. Individuals should consult with their health care provider, especially for chronic or severe pain. Pain relief will vary with each individual and the type of pain the individual is feeling. Weighted blankets can provide relief through muscle relaxation. The deep pressure stimulation provided can help relax tense muscles. The pressure acts as a gentle massage, easing muscle tension and promoting relaxation. They can also increase blood circulation. The blanket can aid in increasing blood flow to various areas of the body. Improved circulation can help reduce inflammation and promote the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to affected areas. The Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) from the blanket can also trigger the release of endorphins, which are pain-relieving chemicals. The weight of the blanket can also provide support to different parts of the body, such as the joints and back, reducing pressure and stress on these areas. Besides DPS, a weighted blanket can help regulate the autonomic nervous system, promoting a parasympathetic state. This state allows the body to rest and recover, which can be beneficial for managing pain. Lastly, weighted blankets have shown promise in providing relief to individuals with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and sensitivity. The pressure may mitigate some of the pain and discomfort.