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Effect of weighted blankets > Read more

During the second Covid lock-down in 2020, I came across an article stating that half an hour of yoga a day could cure insomnia. As I was having difficulty sleeping at that point (who didn’t have Covid-insomnia?), I decided to try to incorporate the yoga ritual in my day to get access to better sleep.

In fact, there are a number of Danish hospitals where patients have access to sensory rooms. In the sensory rooms, music, art and colors are carefully selected for their calming effect.

Weighted blankets have long been in use as a remedy to help with insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, and stress. The deep touch pressure stimulation from the weight of the blanket is used to stimulate the production of serotonin, the mood-boosting hormone, reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep and relax. Deep touch pressure is the level of pressure that comes from most types of firm touching, holding, stroking or swaddling. No more than that. So, a weighted blanket will not crush you down or put your limbs to sleep. It will ‘just’ mimic the effect of a firm touch. A firm touch with many benefits.

Overcoming panic attacks and anxiety through pressure

Mary Temple Grandin is a highly functioning autist and a professor at Colorado University. In her paper, Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals, she describes how she used to crawl under the sofa cushions and make her sister sit on them. This would calm her down and allow her to relax. When Mary Temple Grandin was 18 years old, she developed The Squeeze Machine. 15 minutes twice a day with deep touch pressure helped her overcome panic attacks and anxiety for hours afterwards. The Squeeze Machine is actually the original thought behind the weighted blankets, you’ll find on the market today. In contrast to the calmness Mary Temple Grandin would feel from the deep touch pressure of the Squeeze Machine, normal touching or hugging would put her in a state of panic. This also explains, why a weighted blanket can work better for some children than a hug. The pressure of a blanket is within their control, and they can push it off, when they have had enough.

Anti-anxiety weighted blankets

An estimated 4% of the global population suffer from anxiety. 63% of these 275 million people are women. World Economic Forum calls it ‘the world’s biggest health problem’. Anxiety has a number of different symptoms, and the World Economic Forum lists these as the most common ones:
  • Apprehension – worrying about future misfortunes, feeling on edge, having difficulty concentrating
  • Motor tension – restlessness and fidgeting, tension headaches, trembling, inability to relax
  • Autonomic overactivity – lightheadedness, sweating, abnormally high heart rate (tachycardia) or abnormally rapid breathing (tachypnoea), pain in the upper abdomen (epigastric discomfort), dizziness, and dry mouth
Anxiety is treatable, but according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) just 36.9 percent of sufferers get the treatment they need. In a study from 2008 that measured the vital signs of adults who used weighted blankets, 63% of participants said they felt less anxiety while using the weighted blanket, while 78% said they preferred it as a way to make themselves calm. Researchers also recorded a 33 percent drop in electrodermal activity, which is a response generated by the sweat glands, often in response to stress.

How to use your weighted blanket

How do you incorporate the weighted blanket and when should you use it for optimal effect? Well, while weighted blankets are perfectly safe to sleep under for the entire night, it might get a too warm and cumbersome to use for seven to nine hours. We suggest covering your body from shoulders to the soles of your feet during meditation, for a power nap or during your bedtime ritual to wind down from the day. After 15 to 20 minutes, you will already feel an effect.

You might also enjoy using the smaller blanket (2 kilos) just over your legs while reading or watching TV. This calms down restless legs and hips and makes you feel grounded.

In short, use your blanket when you need a rest or to calm yourself down. Not unlike, how you would use a normal blanket, although this one comes with a long list of benefits. These are just some of the effects that the weighted blanket reportedly brings:

  • Helps insomnia
  • Eases anxiety
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves sleep duration and sleep quality
  • Improves mood
  • Calms mind and body
  • Improves focus, attention, and other
  • ADHD symptoms
  • Reduces restlessness
  • Helps fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Prevents fibromyalgia flares
  • Relieves Restless Leg Syndrome – RLS
  • Reduces pain without medication
  • Eases PTSD and panic disorder symptoms
  • Helps relieve autism symptoms
  • Relieves muscle tension and anxiety related to Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Can help keep Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder manageable

Remember though, that a weighted blanket goes hand in hand with the other points on the list of guidelines for good sleep:
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule; go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • Keep blue light exposure to a minimum at night
  • Don’t eat too heavily at night and stop eating after dinner
  • Consume alcohol only moderately, and ideally not within a few hours of bed
  • Get regular exercise, but not too late in the day
  • Try to manage stress and reduce anxiety with bedtime rituals and relaxation practices, like breathing exercises and meditation
We are curious to hear how you use your weighted blanket and what effects it might have on your stress and anxiety levels. Send us your comments so we can keep developing products that might help you.Do you like the idea of pressure as a way to calm down? Check out our other products for relaxation.


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