Weighted blankets work through applying Deep Pressure Touch to your body.
It is caused by the weight of the blanket pressing around your body.
Weighted blankets use Deep Pressure Touch. This is firm yet gentle pressure applied to the body – almost like a hug. This pressure triggers two reactions in the body that result in feelings of peace and calm.
These reactions both take place in the central nervous system.
The body’s nervous system is made up of two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
- The sympathetic nervous system is the “ready to act” part of the body. It’s in control whenever you face a dangerous or stressful situation. It’s the “fight or flight” response.
- In contrast, the parasympathetic calms both the body and the mind. When it is in charge, your muscles relax and your heart rate slows.
Reaction #1: Deep Pressure Touch shuts off the “fight or flight” response
The first thing Deep Pressure Touch does is to “switch off” the sympathetic nervous system (the “fight or flight” instinct).
(You will naturally feel anxious, on edge and very, very tired if the sympathetic nervous system is in control of your body for long time periods.)
Then, the Deep Pressure Touch activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
This makes you feel calm and peaceful.
When the parasympathetic system is in charge, your muscles relax and your heart rate will slow down.
Reaction #2: Deep Pressure Touch causes your body to release “happy hormones” naturally
Next, the parasympathetic nervous system also releases endorphins – the “feel good” hormones that are also activated by exercise.
And then it triggers your body to release serotonin. This is one of the brain’s “happy” neuro-transmitters.
- Serotonin helps regulate sleep, social behaviour, mood, appetite, digestion and memory.
Is there scientific proof that weighted blankets help?
There have been a number of clinical studies that have objectively measured the calming effects of Deep Pressure Touch on the body.
One clinical study found that use of deep pressure touch device resulted in reduced stress and feelings of calmness in as little as three minutes in adults. It measured this through collecting heart rate and respiration data by putting electrodes on the study participants’ chest and back. It also measured skin conductance to assess the level of sympathetic nervous system activity.
A second study specifically studied the safety and effectiveness of a weighted blanket on 32 adults.
- 68% of the study participants reported lower anxiety after using the weighted blanket; and
- 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming tool.
There is another clinical study that caught my eye. It found that “grounding” the human body by weighting it down during sleep reduces the level of cortisol. (Cortisol is the stress hormone.) The study participants reported improved sleep patterns and reduced pain and stress.
So then, weighted blankets work due to the combined action of switching from the “flight or fight” response to a calm state of mind – plus the natural release of “feel good” chemicals in the body.
Find out more about how you can benefit from an Australian-made weighted blanket here