The current crisis caused by the world’s pandemic has forced people to face a persisting problem that was pretty obvious anyway, however, we were too busy to acknowledge it. As humans, we are social animals and in order for Currently away from friends, colleagues and family, many of us realize how important socialization is for our wellbeing. But, the modern world we live in, and the hectic lifestyle most of us have adopted in the past several decades, has made us pretty isolated and sometimes lonely. We lack physical touch, tenderness and quality time spend with partners, family, kids, parents….
As much as this has affected the mental health of the population, together with many other factors, it brought up to mainstream use one relatively old and seriously beneficial therapeutic tool – the weighted blanket. The comforter that resembles a soothing hug, loved by many, advertised aggressively, and stated to be beneficial for many health problems, has recently entered the mainstream use in a modern and sophisticated way although it has been successfully used in acute psychiatry for several decades now.
Not does by any means this blanket replace physical contact, however, it provides similar effects that are very beneficial for people dealing with physical and psychological problems and sleep issues. Moreover, many have adopted the use of the blanket for the purpose to improve their overall health and wellbeing using the sole harmless aid to be found on the market.
Still wondering how can a blanket be this beneficial? Let’s take a closer look at the effects, the changes and the benefits it provides, but first the blanket.
Simply, as the name implies, the weighted blanket resembles a regular one with a difference in the weight. These blankets also referred to as gravity blankets, have the additional weight provided by microbeads sewed inside the fabric. In order for the weight to be felt on every part of the body, these microbeads are spread over the sheer size of the blanket. Different manufacturers offer different weights mainly from 12lbs to 25 lbs and from twin sized to king size weighted blanket.
The weight is essential in the choice. If you want to make the most of the blanket’s benefits you need to find the perfect weight for yourself. The main equation for defining the precise weight according to your specific needs is the blanket to weigh 8-12% of your specific body weight. Moreover, the size to weight ratio is also important, meaning the total weight of the blanket depending on the size it is distributed on, will affect how heavy the person will feel the blanket when it’s put onto the body. Therefore, a blanket that weighs 15 lbs will feel heavier if it is a twin size and lighter if it is a queen-sized blanket.
The additional weight put onto the body performs a gentle pressure scientifically called the deep pressure touch stimulation (DPT). DPT stimulates the nerve endings underneath the skin and ones stimulated, these nerves start sending signals to the central nervous system. When triggered by these signals, the central nervous system activates the parasympathetic nervous system also known as the “rest and digest state” of the body. Moreover, the stimulation tells the nervous system that the body is safe and secure and can enter a resting phase.
Once the central nervous system gives jurisdiction to the parasympathetic system the body is overruled by the hormones of the parasympathetic system: serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins i.e. “the hormones of happiness.” Once the levels of these hormones in the bloodstream increase the body starts feeling safe, content, soother and deeply relaxed.
Hormones that are secreted in our bodies perform powerful chemical reactions that according to the purpose, promote particular feelings and reactions. The goal of the hormones of the parasympathetic system is to help the body relax, digest food, calm and overall induce a feeling of satisfaction, ultimately leading to deep relaxation and sleep. The longer the body is in the resting phase, the body and mind benefit many positive influences and changes, especially if it was exposed to stress previously. That being said here are the benefits of the blanket’s effects:
Easing symptoms and fatigue of prolonged stress
When put onto the body the blanket acts as an instant switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic system, meaning from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest” state. More detailed this means that the prolonged state of stress kept the body overruled by stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline). When we are extremely worried and overstressed the levels of these hormones in the bloodstream rapidly increase leaving the body in constant alerts state, stressed out, and ultimately causing anxiety and insomnia issues. In these states, the body can’t easily find its balance back and the blanket is an instant help. Once you snuggle under the blanket it instantly induces hormonal changes that will help you relax and unwind. The effects are very intense and no worrisome thought or problem can change the state of calmness and relaxation.
The relaxation helps deal with insomnia problems and depression
When helping the body to regularly achieve relaxation and calmness, you will soon get the balance back. Moreover, this can help deal with the symptoms of depression which in many cases is caused directly by decreased levels of the “happiness hormones” in the body. Moreover, the symptom of depression commonly is insomnia or vice versa. If you are dealing with insomnia issues you might easily get into depression due to lack of relaxation and satisfaction that the sleep provides. No matter where the sleeping problems start, once the body feels relaxed and safe under the blanket these symptoms will eventually go away. Moreover, serotonin the hormone that is released when the parasympathetic system overrules, it’s a precursor to melatonin the sleeping hormone. The induced secretion of the sleeping hormone will lead the body through deep relaxation into a sound sleep.
All the benefits of quality sleep
Quality sleep is essential for optimal health. Although you may not have specific problems with stress or sleep, there are moments in life in which all of us need support. Weighted blankets offer that support by providing the relaxation we all need in order to recover and sleep. Sleep directly affects the immune system. If we enjoy quality sleep on a regular base we prevent the development of many health issues and, of course, if one is dealing with a health problem a quality sleep provided by a weighted blanket will help the body recover, and strengthen so it can more effectively fight away the illness.