Anxiety is more than butterflies before a presentation or being nervous before a test. Anxiety is excessive worry that does not go away and can get worse with time. It can influence someone’s life to the point where it interferes with daily life.
Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the US alone. With the stresses of a modern lifestyle, that number is rising at an alarming rate.
Luckily, there are ways to combat anxiety disorders. Although weighted blankets have only recently gone mainstream, they have been used and recommended by occupational therapists for years.
Designed to weigh 10% of your body weight, weighted blankets gently compress sensory receptors. This proprioceptive input is scientifically known as Deep Pressure Therapy (DTP). But how can something as simple as a weighted blanket have such a profound effect on the mind and body?
Calms “Fight or Flight” Response
The nervous system can be broken down into different divisions. One of which is the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls unconscious actions such as breathing, digestion, and heart rate.
This system can be further broken down into two sections. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is the body’s “fight or flight” response. It releases hormones which increase blood pressure, blood sugar, and breathing. The second section of the ANS is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS). This section is the exact opposite of the SNS and is dominant during peaceful, quiet times. The PSNS calms the body down by decreasing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
Deep Pressure Therapy triggers calming PSNS activity while reducing a “fight or flight” response.
Researchers found that Deep Pressure Therapy increased serotonin by 28% and dopamine by 31%. These “happy hormones” have a direct and positive effect on mood and behavior.
Researchers also found that the stress hormone, cortisol, decreased by 31%. When cortisol levels are high, the body goes into “fight or flight” mode.
Increased serotonin production elevates your child’s mood, calming anxiety before bed. Serotonin is also used in the production of melatonin. This hormone tells the body when it is time to go to sleep. When melatonin production is high, sleep is deeper and more restful.
In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders, researchers found that sleep time increased during weighted blanket use. Participants also found it easier to fall asleep and woke up more refreshed in the morning.
Provides Sense of Safety
The added weight of the blanket provides a feeling similar to the feeling of a bear hug from a loved one. This feeling of safety has a calming effect, especially when you are overly anxious. It also puts your brain in just the right state to organize and filter thoughts.
Natural Therapeutic Aid
Many with anxiety are on medication. Although helpful, these medications have huge side effects. Weighted therapy blankets are a great supplement to an already existing treatment plan. The natural calming effect can be achieved without taking more medication.
If you have any questions about weighted therapy blankets, please let us know in the comments below. We would love to help!