Using a weighted blanket for anxiety could be a game-changer. Weighted blankets are becoming more and more popular among those who struggle with anxiety, stress, depression, feelings of emptiness, loneliness or a frequently dysregulated nervous system.
Weighted blankets are a technique inspired by the therapeutic technique of deep pressure stimulation, which utilizes the sensation of pressure to induce a feeling of calm and help regulate the nervous system.
Weighted blankets are designed to be heavier than normal blankets, and it’s extremely common nowadays to buy a weighted blanket for anxiety management purposes.
Some weighted blankets are duvet style, where plastic or glass beads fill the squares of the duvet-style blanket creating up to 20lbs of weight. Knitted weighted blankets are woven using a dense and heavy yarn. Most weighted blankets are 7lbs – 20lbs. Generally, weighted blankets should weigh about 10% of your body weight for optimal effects, so keep that in mind when purchasing a weighted blanket. Children can’t use a 20lbs weighted blanket, as that’s a weight only adults can safely use.
Many research studies have found that weighted blankets indeed can reduce anxiety quite significantly, by assisting with emotional and physical regulation.
Calming and Regulating Your Nervous System
Using a weighted blanket for anxiety works because weighted blankets often regulate the nervous system. When your nervous system is dysregulated, you can feel irritated, anxious, short of breath or have a racing heartbeat. Simply getting into bed and covering yourself with a weighted blanket could regulate your nervous system and calm you down. You might notice your breathing slows down as well as your heart rate, as you relax under the weight of the blanket.
By distributing an even amount of weight and pressure across your body, weighted blankets could help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which makes you feel relaxed and ready for sleep. This is why weighted blankets are often used to treat insomnia. It seems easier to doze off under the weight of these types of blankets. Under a weighted blanket some people feel like they’re being held or feel like they’ve just been tucked in, and it’s a very relaxing feeling.
The pressure of weighted blankets puts your autonomic nervous system into “relaxation” mode. Many people report feeling an almost immediate sense of calm once covered with their weighted blanket.
Weighted Blanket for Anxiety Management
Part of managing your anxiety is knowing what to reach for when you’re feeling anxious, and a weighted blanket might be the perfect thing to reach for. It’s much healthier to reach for a weighted blanket to subdue your anxiety rather than reaching for an unhealthy or addictive substance.
There are many anxiety sufferers out there who have tried everything to reduce their anxiety: herbal remedies, prescription anxiety medications, CBD, breathing exercises and more. Some anxiety sufferers who tried everything eventually found that it was a weighted blanket that worked best for reducing their anxiety. I can personally say that my weighted blanket from Manta Sleep has been more effective at reducing my anxiety and helping me sleep than any other natural remedy I tried. Glass beads are sewn into each individually-sewn pocket of the Manta weighted blanket for even weight distribution and deep pressure stimulation.
Treatment of anxiety is one of the primary uses of weighted blankets. Deep pressure stimulation can reduce autonomic arousal, thus reducing your heart rate and calming your nervous system. It is backed by research that deep pressure stimulation can reduce anxiety, and weighted blankets definitely provide that deep pressure stimulation. This is especially true if you ensure your weighted blanket is about 10% of your weight.
The “Earthing” and “Grounding” Effects of Weighted Blankets
Anxiety can definitely impact your ability to fall asleep, but weighted blankets help ground your body to promote sleep by pushing your body downwards. This sensation is often referred to as “earthing” or “grounding” and it is extremely calming and relaxing.
This process, known as “earthing” or “grounding,” may have a deeply calming effect. The physiological response of your body is typically to calm down when there’s weight on you.
This is why weighted blankets are a natural sleep aid, and you might be surprised how effectively a weighted blanket can put you into a deep sleep.
Weighted Blankets Release Oxytocin
Oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone often referred to as the “cuddle hormone” is typically released when we’re held, cuddled, or having sexual intercourse.
What’s interesting is that weighted blankets can release oxytocin as well, since the weight of the blanket mimics the sensation of being hugged, snuggled or held.
Oxytocin is a hormone known to help improve mood and reduce anxiety. Perhaps using a weighted blanket for anxiety works because of the oxytocin it releases, in combination with the deep pressure stimulation calming your nervous system.
Releasing Dopamine and Serotonin
By providing deep pressure stimulation, weighted blankets can trigger the release of the brains’ “happy hormones”. In other words, weighted blankets can trigger the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Both dopamine and serotonin combat depression and anxiety.
Why Do We Get Anxiety?
Some people get anxiety all the time for no apparent reason, and this often means they have an anxiety disorder. This is something to speak with your doctor about, since you’ll often feel dysregulated, stressed, on-edge and anxious if you have generalized anxiety disorder.
Others get anxious for specific reasons. Anxiety is an “automatic neurophysiological state of alarm characterized by a fight-or-flight response” when danger or a threat – whether it’s real or perceived – is sensed. While this panicked state may arise in your prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that you use to think and plan) the mediator of anxiety is the amygdala.
When your amygdala initiates a fight-or-flight response for no apparent reason, you can become anxious and dysregulated, which includes a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms. The physical symptoms of stress and anxiety include shallow breathing, increased heart rate, trembling, and tense or tight muscles.
Unfortunately, many people can become consumed with anxiety at any time without warning. If you could reach for a weighted blanket for anxiety management, and this blanket could calm you down, you’d feel relieved. There’s no doubt you’d feel relieved that you had something to reach for that could calm your anxiety. That’s why it’s worth trying out a weighted blanket.
If you’d like to learn more about the health conditions you’re predisposed to, including a stress and sleep profile based on your DNA, order a CircleDNA testing kit. This DNA test will help you understand why you might be having trouble sleeping or managing stress. Anxiety management is crucial for optimal wellness and a better quality of life. Experimenting with different anxiety treatments (including weighted blankets) is a wise strategy that aligns with your overall goal of reducing your anxiety.