According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 275 million people around the world suffer from anxiety, which equates to about four percent of the global population. About 170 million adults suffering from anxiety disorders are women with the male population constituting of 105 million sufferers. Anxiety, if not well treated can completely destroy an individual’s life affecting their social life, careers, and health. A lot of anxiety sufferers have come to rely on medication and pharmaceutical supplements to heal anxiety. There is however another scientifically proven remedy that helps to heal many types of anxiety disorders – weighted blankets.
How Weighted Blankets work.
A weighted blanket is a type of blanket that is filled with poly pellets, glass, discs, or polypropene beads. The plastic poly pellets, sewed in compartments throughout the blanket, help to distribute weight evenly. According to Michael Breus, a sleep doctor, slight touches and gentle application of pressure have psychological effects on the human body. The weighted blankets are designed in a way that achieves the gentle but firm pressure commonly known as deep pressure stimulation (DPS) or Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). DPS is a pleasant, soothing sensation affiliated with different types of compression based touch such as hugs, massages or swaddling.
Through the Deep Pressure Stimulation effect, an individual’s sympathetic nervous system’s activity is decreased, which in turn controls the level of stress. The sympathetic nervous system controls the human body’s fight-or-flight response which when triggered by stressful events increases the heart and breathing rates causing breath shortness and a pounding heartbeat. DPS also enhances activation of the parasympathetic nervous system which works to lower an individual’s blood pressure and heart rate and eventually enabling a feeling of calmness and relaxation. The parasympathetic nervous system works as an opposite controlling system of the sympathetic division. The pressure stimulation caused by the blanket helps to reduce the physiological arousal related to stress and anxiety by controlling both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Weighted blankets were originally used as a therapeutic tool for kids with stress, autism, sensory disorders, and anxiety. The blankets have however proven to help cure anxiety disorders for adults as well. The blankets are one of the most powerful therapeutic tools in psychiatric hospitals that help to calm down anxious and stressed patients. When wrapped around a patient, the weighted blanket gives the same sensation as receiving a hug from a loved one or a massage producing a calming effect. It also has the same feeling as a comforting snug and that of swaddling a child to sleep which helps to calm and reduce anxiety. They help patients to achieve a feeling of security, being grounded and safe: a feeling that helps the human mind to calm down and reduce stress. Besides the reduction of anxiety, the blankets are also helpful in aiding with sleep.
Although everyone can use a weighted blanket to fight anxiety, people with respiratory and circulatory complications are advised not to use the blankets. It is, however, essential for everyone to seek a therapist or doctor’s advice before using a weighted blanket.