Sometimes you just need a hug. Or the feeling of someone lying on you. Or a straightjacket. We get it. OK, OK, a weighted blanket is nothing like a straightjacket, but it does give us the calming pressure and stillness we need to relax when we feel a little less than grounded.
And if a weighted blanket is something you’ve never heard of, it’s just what it sounds like. An evenly distributed, particularly heavy blanket—usually somewhere between 5 and 30 pounds, depending on age, size, and needs. They can be made of a thick woven knit that has some serious weight to it, or a tight woven material, quilted and filled with a weighted material such as small glass balls.
Because there is such a vast spectrum of weight to choose from, how do we know which weight is right for us as individuals? The general rule of thumb is to choose a weight that is close to 10% of your body weight. So if you are around 120 pounds, pick a blanket that is 12 pounds. Closer to 150? A 15-pound weighted blanket might be right for you. So why do we want to be ever so slightly squished while we lay horizontal, one may ask?
Weighted blankets are used as a form of deep touch pressure therapy for a number of different afflictions that combat our ability to relax or get good rest. Some of the most common of these issues are feelings of anxiety or insomnia. Even if we’re not feeling super anxious or consider ourselves insomniacs, the even distribution of weight and extra warmth over our bodies as we sleep can be incredibly relaxing, helping to lull us quickly into restful, uninterrupted sleep.
Another reason weighted blankets help with sleep is that the pressure can help induce the production of serotonin. This not only eases those angsty, high-stress feelings making us feel wired when we’re trying to fall asleep, but serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, which sets our circadian clock for shut-eye. So even if we’re not necessarily anxious, weighted blankets offer a real twofer to help get us into a super sleepy state, stat.
The weight has not only a calming effect on our nervous system, but also a calming effect on our nerves and muscles, which can help those with tension, sore muscles from overexertion of jobs that require standing all day, restless leg syndrome, and even menstrual cramps.
If you’re thinking, “Ehem, I don’t want anything pressing on my uterus when I’m cramping,” fear not. The even distribution of weight soothes the nerves, without adding localized pressure to that area. It actually soothes, rather than adds any significant weight to your organs.
Weighted blankets are also just straight-up comforting! Ever have a cute dog on your lap, or a sweet hug from a child? Consider this a slight cuddle, all through the winter months. They’re the perfect sleep accessory for chilly Sunday naps, or over the bed all winter long.
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