According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million adults in the U.S. age 18 or older suffer from an anxiety disorder, which equates to 18% of the population. Depending on the severity of the anxiety, it can completely disrupt one’s life, coming between relationships, jobs, and general well-being.
Many people turn to either pharmaceutical drugs, alternative remedies such as herbs and supplements, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or yoga and meditation to heal their anxiety. However, weighted blankets have shown promise as a remedy for many types of anxiety disorders.
Here’s How Weighted Blankets Are Helping People With Anxiety
Weighted blankets have plastic poly pellets sewn into compartments throughout the blanket, which helps to distribute the weight evenly. The deep pressure from the weighted blanket acts to calm the person under it, and the added weight sends a message to the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, inducing relaxation.
Originally, occupational therapists used weighted blankets on children with sensory disorders, anxiety, stress, or autism. However, they have been shown to help adults with anxiety disorders as well.
“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,” says Karen Moore, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Franconia, N.H. “These blankets work by providing input to the deep pressure touch receptors throughout the body,” Moore says. “Deep pressure touch helps the body relax. Like a firm hug, weighted blankets help us feel secure, grounded, and safe.”
As far as the weight of the blanket, most adults prefer 15 to 30 pounds, but you should seek the advice of a doctor or occupational therapist before purchasing one. However, those with respiratory or circulatory conditions should not use a weighted blanket, unless approved by a doctor first.
We would like to mention that in addition to anxiety, weighted blankets can help people suffering from insomnia as well. Many people with insomnia also have mental imbalances due to the lack of sleep, so a weighted blanket can not only calm anxiety, but help you get a better night’s sleep at the same time.
Because of the added weight from the blanket, make sure to keep the temperature in your room relatively cool so you don’t get overheated during the night. As cozy and comforting as the blanket may seem, it won’t work as well if you feel too uncomfortable to go to sleep.
In addition to the weighted blanket, you might also want to use a grounded sheet or bed beneath you to maximize the calming effect. Grounding basically means allowing your body to come into direct contact with the Earth, or using a device that creates the same result while indoors. Until modern times, we used to spend the majority of our days outdoors, soaking up negative electrons from the Earth.
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In today’s world, exposure to EMF’s, Wi-Fi, mobile phone waves, and other forms of technology have increased our positive electrons, which have the opposite effect of grounding. Preliminary studies on grounding have found that it can reduce cortisol levels, anxiety, reduce inflammation and chronic pain, improve sleep and energy levels, lessens menstrual cramps, normalizes biological rhythms, and much more.