Sleep is a fundamental aspect of our well-being, affecting both our physical and mental health. Many of us grapple with sleep disturbances, anxiety, and stress, which can have a significant impact on our daily lives. However, there is a simple and scientifically-backed solution that might just be the key to a good night's sleep and improved mental health – weighted blankets. In this blog, we'll delve into the science behind how weighted blankets work and how they can help you achieve better sleep and a calmer mind.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
A weighted blanket is not your typical blanket; it is filled with micro hypoallergenic beads, adding extra weight to it. The goal is to provide consistent, firm pressure evenly distributed across your body. Weighted blankets typically weigh between 5 to 9 kilograms for adults and 1.5 to 3 kilograms for children's weighted blankets. But how does this extra weight translate into better sleep and reduced anxiety?
The Science of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP)
Weighted blankets work through a concept called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). This therapeutic technique applies gentle pressure to the body, setting off a series of chemical reactions that promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety.
Serotonin Release: When you snuggle under a weighted blanket, your body experiences DTP, which prompts the release of serotonin, often referred to as the "happy hormone." Serotonin plays a crucial role in regulating mood and creating a sense of calm.
Melatonin Production: Serotonin, in turn, helps in the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating our circadian rhythm or body clock. Melatonin levels naturally rise in the evening when we need to feel sleepy, and a weighted blanket can help enhance this process. This is particularly beneficial for those who struggle to fall asleep at bedtime, as it boosts melatonin levels, aiding relaxation and sleep.
Cortisol Regulation: Cortisol is the stress hormone, and maintaining the right balance is vital. High cortisol levels can lead to stress and anxiety, making it difficult to sleep. Ideally, cortisol levels should be high in the morning and decrease gradually during the day, reaching their lowest point at bedtime. Weighted blankets help regulate these cortisol levels, reducing stress and promoting rest.
Benefits for Specific Groups
Weighted blankets are not just a one-size-fits-all solution; they offer unique advantages for specific groups, including children with autism, ADHD, and anxiety.
For children with these conditions, difficulty sleeping is a common issue due to imbalanced hormone levels. Weighted blankets, filled with micro hypoallergenic beads, distribute deep-pressure touch evenly across the body, creating a soothing effect. These blankets have been widely recommended by doctors and occupational therapists to help patients achieve a night of deep, restful sleep.
Clinical Studies and Evidence
The effectiveness of weighted blankets in improving sleep and mental health has been supported by clinical studies conducted in the UK and the US. These studies have shown that weighted blankets are not only safe for children but are also favoured by both children and adults. This evidence underscores the potential benefits of incorporating weighted blankets into your sleep routine.
Weighted blankets offer a simple yet scientifically-backed solution to improve your sleep and mental health. By harnessing the power of Deep Touch Pressure, these blankets can promote the release of serotonin, boost melatonin production, and regulate cortisol levels, all of which contribute to better sleep and reduced anxiety. Whether you're struggling with sleep disturbances or seeking relief from stress and anxiety, a weighted blanket might be the comforting companion you need for a more restful and serene night's sleep.