Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.
There are lots of tools for quelling anxiety and beating the monster of insomnia. In addition to consulting with your doctor, you can change your bedding to be more anxiety-friendly. And using a weighted blanket for anxiety just happens to be all the rage for a reason.
If you’re on the fence about whether a trying a weighted blanket for anxiety is worth the investment, here are some things to consider.
What’s a Weighted Blanket, Anyway?
A weighted blanket, also referred to as a heavy blanket or gravity blanket, is a blanket with pellets, beads, or chains sewn throughout. The weight is distributed evenly across your body so that it doesn’t fall to the bottom (which is good, because your feet aren’t the only part of you that’s stressed out).
You know how you feel when the dental hygienist lays that lead vest across your chest before an X-ray? Wearing a weighted blanket offers a similar sensation, except it’s a whole lot cozier. While these blankets can be used for a few different reasons, eliminating anxiety is one of their main functions.
The Science of Using a Weighted Blanket for Anxiety
There hasn’t been a ton of research studies done on weighted blankets. Still, there are signs that science can support this hefty invention. For instance, a small 2006 study found that 78% of participants felt calmer when they were using a weighted blanket for anxiety than they were without one.
Heavy blankets do something called “grounding” the body, and one study found that grounding during sleep regulates cortisol levels and reduces stress, allowing better sleep. Another study found that wearing a weighted vest was able to calm participants’ nervous systems (or, reduce “sympathetic arousal and non–stimulus-driven electrical occurrences,” as researchers would say).
Here are five ways using a weighted blanket for anxiety can change your physiology in all the right ways so you’re dreaming of running with unicorns in no time.
1. Deep Touch Pressure (DTP)
Your nervous system has to take in information from your environment via your sensory systems and interpret it. When it’s overstimulated or something goes wrong, the whole operation might start flagging too many threats. That’s where Deep Touch Pressure (or Deep Touch Stimulation) comes in.
By applying pressure to your body, you can mellow out your senses and send your nervous system out of red flag territory. DTP is gentle pressure, and it can be applied to your torso or entire body to achieve a calming effect.
What better way to apply DTP than laying beneath the best weighted blanket for anxiety? A blanket distributes the pressure evenly across your body and you don’t have to find a massage therapist. The consistent pressure grounds your body and gives you all the good feelings.
2. Increased Serotonin
One way DTP, by way of weighted blankets, gives you the warm fuzzies is by increasing your serotonin levels. Serotonin is one of the most crucial brain chemicals involved with feelings of well-being. It’s also a mood-regulating neurotransmitter, so you can see how its depletion often leads to anxiety.
Research shows that the slow, gentle touch of DTP can also tell the brain to release dopamine, which is the incredible sibling of serotonin. Together they’re like your own personal cheer squad.
Serotonin also happens to help regulate your sleep-wake cycles, so you want more of it when you’re trying to ward off insomnia. It even converts to melatonin, a chemical that naturally tells your brain when it’s time to go into sleep mode. All of this is to say that using a weighted blanket for anxiety could give you a chemical boost that eases your anxiety and tells your brain it’s OK to settle in for a snooze.
3. Decreased Cortisol
Deep pressure can cause the body to switch from running its sympathetic nervous system to its parasympathetic nervous system. This switch, essentially, has your body produce less cortisol, changing your body from ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and digest.’ Cortisol isn’t necessarily bad – it can kick in if you need to run away from a mountain lion, for instance. It also helps your body regulate blood pressure and can keep your body’s inflammation down.
On the other hand, it’s not called the stress hormone for nothing. An overproduction of cortisol often results in things like anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness. And when you’re not getting enough sleep, your cortisol levels may surge. In other words, you have too much cortisol to sleep which only produces more cortisol. No, thanks.
Deep Touch Pressure may bring your cortisol back to sleep-appropriate levels. When your body isn’t naturally regulating your cortisol production – using the best weighted blanket for anxiety could come to the rescue.
4. Less Nighttime Movement
When you’re under 10+ pounds of a heavy blanket, you’re less likely to toss and turn. And as any fitness sleep tracker will show – your body often registers night movements as an awake state. Eliminate those tosses and turns, and you could see more consistent sleep. And stop annoying your sleep partner. A weighted blanket for anxiety sets you up for a more soothing, easy rest.
5. Deeper Sleep
With increased serotonin, decreased cortisol, and fewer movements – you’re more likely to sleep deeply for longer. Sleep interruptions can reduce the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) and deep sleep you get. For most healthy adults, 20-25% of their nightly sleep should take place in REM, and another 20% in deep sleep.
Soak in a few hours of deep sleep each night, and you may feel 10 years younger the next morning (that’s not science, it’s just our experience). Improved sleep may also help keep your nervous system calmer in the morning. Bottom line: a weighted blanket for anxiety allows some sleepers to attack sleep deprivation head-on and enjoy a more satisfying rest in deeper states of sleep.
What to Look for in a Weighted Blanket
Most weighted blankets are designed for one-person use, so you don’t have to feel guilty about buying one that meets your specific needs. Your partner can get their own. There are several factors that will determine which gravity blanket sends you to dreamland the right way. When you’re on the hunt for a new weighted bed cover, consider:
- Your Body Weight. For adults, the typical manufacturer recommendation is that a weighted blanket should be 10% of your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, for instance, that translates to a 15-pound blanket. The rules are slightly different for kids. For anyone under 100 pounds, the rule of thumb is 10% of body weight plus 1 to 2 pounds.
- Fabric Preferences. Like any bedding, you’ll want to choose the right weighted blanket for anxiety based on how comfortable it is. Natural fibers are often more breathable and will keep you from overheating beneath the heft of your new blanket. You should also take a look at the filling. Some weighted blankets use rice or barley in the middle, so a person with allergies could run into trouble.
- Your Personal Health. If you are going through menopause, have respiratory or circulation problems, or are dealing with other chronic health issues, using a weighted blanket for anxiety may not be right for you. It’s always good to discuss a weighted blanket with your doctor or occupational therapist if you have reservations. While most people are good to use a weighted blanket, getting the thumbs up from a healthcare provider lets you buy with more confidence.
Pairing the Best Weighted Blanket for Anxiety with a Cooling Mattress
Your weighted blanket has your front covered. But what about your back (and your shoulders and your hips and everything else)?
That’s where the best mattress for back pain, neck pain, and sensitive pressure points comes in.
Layla Mattress is a copper-infused cooling mattress that draws heat away from your body while you rest. Even with a weighted blanket on top of your body, you can always stay cool. The Layla Mattress also contours to your curves. Whether you need extra back support or you sleep on your side and want some hip–hugging support, our top-notch memory foam rises to the occasion.
The Layla Mattress has multiple layers of foam, including a middle section of convoluted foam that facilitates air circulation. Plus, the copper-infused memory foam has antimicrobial properties that help kill some of the most common germs. Which gives you one less thing to be anxious about!
If you’re ready to change your sleep experience, there is no day like the present! Using a weighted blanket for anxiety can change the way you feel, sleep, and live. And sleeping on a Layla Mattress could have you waking up pain-free, well-rested, and ready to take life by the horns. Not ready to buy a new mattress? Try our Layla Topper to start experiencing the best nights and even better days.