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Have you ever experienced your stresses falling away as you sink into the arms of someone you love? What about the incredible relaxation that can be felt during a deep tissue massage? Or the safe, secure, feeling of wrapping yourself up in something warm on a cold night?
Now, what if I told you a weighted blanket could give you all this and more, without you even having to leave your bed? It may sound too good to be true, but I am going to talk you through some of the amazing benefits weighted blankets have to offer.
Weighted blankets allow you to mimic the effects of Deep Touch Pressure Therapy at home. By applying deep pressure stimulation to the body, the weight of the blanket activates the parasympathetic nervous system, essentially putting your body into “rest mode”. The heart rate begins to slow down, your muscles relax and a series of chemical reactions within the body occurs to create an overall feeling of peace and tranquillity.
Those warm, fuzzy, feelings you experience when enjoying a calming hug are a result of the hormone Oxytocin (also known as the love hormone) being released into your body. Weighted blankets produce the same hormonal response as a warm hug, and pressure also triggers the release of the chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Together this slows the heart rate and reduces your blood pressure, alleviating feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
When serotonin is produced, the body also begins to stimulate the release of melatonin, the body's sleep hormone. This hormone sends chemical messages to the rest of your organs, signalling to them that it is night time and therefore time to sleep. The boost of this hormone provided by the deep pressure stimulation of the blanket can help relieve symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders, and help regulate your sleep schedule.
For those who suffer from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), one of the frustrating symptoms both adults and children can suffer from is restlessness. This can be particularly stressful when winding down for bedtime. Studies have shown that when using a weighted blanket ADHD sufferer noticed a reduction in the amount of time taken to fall asleep.
For individuals with conditions such as restless leg syndrome, the weight of the blanket mimics the pressure provided by compression garments but with no constriction. This helps to relieve some of the tingling sensations that hinder sufferers from falling asleep with ease.
Weighted blankets can also help give you an overall health-boost but reducing the effects of overexposure to cortisol. Cortisol is the body's primary stress hormone, when released it reduces functions that are not essential to your “fight or flight” response. Too much cortisol over long periods can alter your body's immune and digestive systems, leading to health problems.
When using a weighted blanket, the pressure helps to create a feeling of “grounding”, this feeling reduces cortisol production and diverts resources back to other systems in the body. This not only improves overall health but reduces stress and creates a better night's sleep.