If you suffer from anxiety, whether you have generalized anxiety, or it only comes on from specific situations, you understand how overwhelming and frustrating it can be. While there are many natural remedies and medications available, one to consider that is quickly picking up in popularity is using a weighted blanket.
How Does the Weighted Blanket Work?
First of all, a weighted blanket is exactly what it sounds like; a blanket that is filled with material to make it weigh a little more than traditional blankets.
There are different fillings in weighted blankets, depending on the type of blanket you get. Some use little poly pellets made of plastic or beads, while others use tiny glass pellets.
This can determine the overall weight and quality of your blanket, though many people report that the type of filling doesn’t matter as much as getting the right weight of blanket.
Generally, people feel most comfortable with a blanket that weighs 7% to 10% of their body weight, but you may need to test several brands to find the best weighted blanket for you. This also means that if your weight goes up or down you may need to change your weighted blanket.
Most weighted blankets are smaller in size, typically the size of a throw blanket. It doesn’t usually replace your standard duvet or comforter on your bed, but instead goes on top when you feel like you need more support, are using it for stress or anxiety, or want help with a sensory processing disorder.
It helps to provide a little more support, helping you feel comforted and relaxed. A great weighted blanket will mimic the feeling of a hug.
Weighted Blankets for Anxiety
There are many purposes and benefits behind using a weighted blanket, but one of the most common is to help relieve your anxiety.
In a survey covering Great Britain, 1 in 6 adults had experienced some form of mental health problem in the previous week, the most common being anxiety and depression. It is estimated that more than 1 in 10 people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life, whilst an estimated 13% of the adult population will develop a specific form of anxiety known as a phobia at some point in their life. (Source: AnxietyUK)
And, with approximately 40 million people in the U.S. suffering from anxiety, you can bet a lot of people will benefit from this type of blanket.
In fact, a good weighted blanket will help to soothe away stress and anxiety and even improve your sleep. Scientific studies have found that weighted therapy can help to increase levels of serotonin and melatonin (the happiness hormones) while decreasing cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
It is also possible that use of a weighted blanket may reduce sleepwalking episodes due to the deeper, more relaxed sleep they are said to induce, however, a doctor should be the first port of call if this is a problem for you or your children.
Using a weighted blanket
When you use a weighted blanket, it feels like you are getting comfort and security. People have compared it to getting a big hug, where you just get a sense of protection.
The great thing about the smaller size of the blanket is that you can easily carry it to different rooms of your home.
If you are having a bad panic attack and you want to lay on the couch, bring it to your living room and sit for a few minutes with the blanket over your body or around your shoulders – you will be amazed at how much relief you experience.
How to find the right weighted blanket for you
Before you run out and buy the first weighted blanket you see, here are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, make sure you buy it from a reputable seller. Many new companies are coming up with weighted blankets, but since these cost upwards of £100 or more, you want to be sure you are getting the real thing.
Next, consider the amount of weight you want in your weighted blanket. As mentioned above, you should consider your own size and body weight when determining what size weighted blanket you should get.
For someone who is 150 pounds or less, don’t get a blanket that weighs more than 10-15 pounds. Heavier blankets are good for when you either want more weight, or you weigh more.
Be aware that, in poorer quality blankets, the weighted beads may shift about or bunch up. This is less of a problem if you use the blanket whilst lying down but it is something to be aware of.
Ideally look for a blanket sewn so that glass beads are prevented from moving and making a noise to provide a soft, evenly-distributed weight that gently conforms to your body.
It is also a good idea to look for a blanket with a removable cover as not all weighted blankets come with one. This will make it much easier to wash.
When a weighted blanket may not be suitable
Weighted blankets can be quite pricey and may not be suitable for you if you suffer from claustrophobia. Heavier blankets may be difficult to carry and be unsuitable for travel.
In the event of any anxiety disorder, advice from a doctor or medical specialist should be the first step, especially if younger children are involved.
That said, you may find a weighted blanket calms and relaxes you and is a welcome addition to your self-care arsenal.
Have you tried a weighted blanket? What did you think?