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In one way or another, everyone deals with their own anxieties and stressors that come with everyday life. Sometimes those anxious thoughts can even seep into our nighttime routine and keep us awake when we should be catching some much-needed rest. And that’s when some people turn to weighted blankets for a relief from their worldly problems — but do they actually work? Can a blanket that’s heavier than usual really help us calm down?
As with a lot of coping mechanisms, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence out there to give a definitive answer one way or another. Another big thing to keep in mind is that coping with anxiety is very personal and dependent on the individual. That being said, there are a few interesting ways that weighted blankets might (ironically) unburden your nighttime worries.
Tapping Into Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS)
For such a fancy term, DPTS is actually pretty simple. It encompasses things like swaddling, massaging and hugging. Much like these actions, weighted blankets are thought to engage with the autonomic nervous system, which directly affects our anxiety. Although there’s no direct evidence, proponents of weighted blankets believe that swaddling feeling helps to soothe our fight-or-flight responses while encouraging a conservation of energy.
Keeping Cortisol Levels Slow and Low
In one study, researchers found that “grounding” patients (covering them with a heavy mattress pad, similar to a weighted blanket) lowered their cortisol levels during sleep. For those who don’t know, cortisol is a hormone that can negatively impact our stress and anxiety levels. It even seemed to normalize their circadian rhythms and reduce stress and sleep dysfunction.
More Evidence in Favor of the Subject
There was even one study that specifically sought to find the effectiveness of weighted blankets on adults’ sleep. Of the 32 subjects, 63% said their anxiety was lowered after using a weighted blanket. So even if there’s not a hard empirical connection between lowered anxiety and weighted blankets, there’s clearly a possibility that a correlation exists (even if it’s placebo).
So Should I Invest in a Heavier Blanket?
It’s really up to you. If you think it will benefit you, there’s no good reason not to try it unless:
- You have circulation or respiratory issues.
- Are going through menopause and hot flashes.
- Have temperature regulatory issues.
Other than that, you might try tucking yourself in and seeing how it goes! And if you’re about to purchase one, it’s recommended that you go with one that’s 5%-10% of your own body weight. Let us know your experience with weighted blankets or other nighttime habits in the comments below!