The 10 Best Weighted Blankets
The Theory Behind Weighted Blankets
Deep pressure stimulation is believed to increase serotonin levels in the body, which can help regulate your mood and promote a calming effect.
It might seem counter-intuitive — if you suffer from anxiety, wouldn't some heavy, oppressive blanket weighing you down be the last thing you need?
Apparently not. An increasing number of people are discovering the benefits of weighted blankets, and while there's far from a scientific consensus on their effectiveness, there are some studies that show they may be able to help certain afflictions.
The basic idea is that a heavy blanket offers something called deep pressure stimulation, which is basically the same effect that you'd get from a hug or being swaddled as a baby. Since the therapeutic benefits of hugging are well-known, using a weighted blanket seems like a no-brainer.
Deep pressure stimulation is believed to increase serotonin levels in the body, which can help regulate your mood and promote a calming effect. It's not a substitute for medication, of course, but every little bit can help.
Many people also like how it helps hold them still. This can be useful if you tend to get restless, or if you just like the security of being cocooned in one spot. It's a feeling that's very reassuring — just like the touch of a loved one.
Of course, while a weighted blanket might be able to mimic the effect of cuddling up to somebody you love, it's no replacement for it. You'll still likely get more benefit from snuggling with your spouse than you will curling up under the blanket (which is presumably good news for your marriage).
So, go ahead and get a weighted blanket if you feel like you'd benefit from being wrapped up tight all night long — but let your partner know this doesn't let them off the hook for snuggle time.
Conditions That Weighted Blankets May Help
Weighted blankets are traditionally associated with anxiety, and for good reason — they can slow down the activity in your nervous system, which can quite literally calm your nerves.
Also, since the blanket is just a blanket, instead of a person, the patient can have full control over it, which is extremely reassuring.
It's not just anxiety sufferers who can benefit, however. They've been shown to help reduce the effects of insomnia, allowing patients to finally get a good night's rest. The reasons are likely the same — reducing sensations in your nervous system can leave you calm and relaxed, helping to give you more refreshing sleep. Additionally, the blankets can inhibit movement, preventing tossing and turning.
Many people with sensory processing disorder or autism (especially those with tactile sensitivity) find that weighted blankets offer most of the benefits of hugging without actually having to touch another individual, which can be overwhelming. Also, since the blanket is just a blanket, instead of a person, the patient can have full control over it, which is extremely reassuring.
However, don't expect the blanket to be a miracle cure — and don't leave small children alone with it. While they're completely safe for adults and teens, at least two deaths of young children have been linked to their use, as the kids might not be able to free themselves from underneath the weight, and can get smothered as a result.
Granted, both instances were the result of gross misuse of the blankets — and one was downright abusive — but that still doesn't mean you shouldn't play it safe. If you're thinking your child can benefit from one of these blankets, monitor them at all times.
Ultimately, the jury is still out on how much these coverings can help, if at all. Still, many of them are worth a shot, especially since so many people find them incredibly comfortable.
Other Tips for Dealing With Anxiety
Anxiety can be a crippling condition, and the most important thing you can do if you're afflicted is to see a mental health specialist immediately. If that's not possible, however (and even if it is), there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to give yourself a little relief.
The first thing you should realize is that, just because your mind might be suffering, that doesn't mean that your body has to as well. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and take good care of yourself.
At some point, however, it may be worth considering whether your career is worth your mental health.
Any type of exercise will help, but yoga is especially fantastic, as it teaches you how to calm your inner thoughts in addition to toning your body. That can leave you both mentally and physically relaxed.
Meditation is another activity that's wonderful for soothing anxious nerves, as it can help you recognize and control invasive thoughts. Even better, it's free and you can do it anywhere, so you can just grab a cushion and get started. Don't just be alone with all your thoughts, though. Find someone you can talk to, whether that's a loved one, a clergy member, or a trained mental health professional.
Recognizing triggers is another thing that's extremely important. If you know that certain people or situations can set you off, you need to try to avoid them as best as possible. If that's not feasible, such as if it's a chronic work situation, then you can try other coping strategies like journaling or the aforementioned meditation. At some point, however, it may be worth considering whether your career is worth your mental health.
You also need to try to re-frame how you deal with the world. Recognize that not everything is within your control, so let yourself off the hook if things don't always work out like you think they should. Just try your best, remain positive, and let go of the results.
Humor works wonders for this. You can often find something funny about just about anything in life, so try to look at situations in a new light.