Weighted blankets work to calm anxiety and stress through applying Deep Pressure Touch to your body.
Deep Pressure Touch is firm yet gentle pressure applied to the body – almost like a hug.
It gives your body what therapists term “proprioceptive input”. It can come from hugging, compression and is what calms babies when they are swaddled.
There are clinical studies – like this one – that detail the calming therapeutic benefits of Deep Pressure Touch in soothing anxiety and nervousness. A number of studies have observed that Deep Pressure Touch helps:
- Improve spatial awareness;
- Increase both the quality and duration of sleep;
- Help improve attention and focus; and
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
This Deep Pressure Touch is caused by the weight of the blanket pressing around your body.
This pressure triggers three reactions in the body that result in feelings of peace and calm.
Deep Pressure Touch Calms Your Body in Three Stages
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.
When the parasympathetic system is in charge, your muscles relax and your heart rate will slow down. It also slows the breathing rate. This is a physical response that makes you feel calm and peaceful.
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-
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. It found that 68% of the study participants reported lower anxiety after using the weighted blanket and some 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 what makes a weighted blanket work best or click the button below to browse our selection.