THE SCIENCE BEHIND WEIGHTED BLANKETS
- Jul 01, 2021
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What is a weighted blanket and how does it work?
Weighted blankets have been used in hospital settings for many years to calm anxious patients.
At Be Humance, we believe that the general population can benefit from weighted blankets as alternatives to medication for stress and sleep disorders.
Life moves extremely fast these days, and our brains are constantly bombarded with stimulation, which is why most people need a little extra help to relax and improve their sleep patterns. Weighted blankets are a comforting, easy-to-use, non-pharmacological method to reduce distressing symptoms like insomnia or anxiety, or simply to lessen the effects of everyday stress.
How could a weighted blanket help me?
The science behind our Be Humance weighted blankets is based on an approach called "Deep Touch Pressure (DTP)", which consists of deep pressure stimulation. It is a therapeutic method that stimulates pressure points on the body to improve sleep, mood and relaxation. Much like swaddling a baby, the weight and pressure on an adult body provides almost instant relief and comfort.
But that’s not all: a weighted blanket directly affects the brain’s biochemistry, reducing cortisol levels and increasing the production of serotonin and endorphin, which in turn causes a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure.
What’s so special about serotonin anyway?
Serotonin, dubbed the "feel good hormone," works both as a hormone and a neurotransmitter in our body. It promotes relaxation and ensures restful sleep. Low mood, depression, anxiety and even autism are associated with altered serotonin levels, often found to be at levels below the norm. Weighted blankets apply pressure to the body to increase the release of serotonin in under 20 minutes, creating a sense of calm almost immediately.
Credible scientific studies behind our weighted blankets.
Let's talk about a first study, published in the Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering in 2012, a medical journal of the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering that covers research in biomedical and clinical engineering. The researchers looked at how the patients' nervous systems reacted when they used a weighted blanket and provided physiological evidence in support of positive clinical effects of deep pressure stimulation on anxiety reduction in different environments.
Source: Chen, Hsin-Yung, et al. Physiological effects of deep touch pressure on anxiety alleviation: The weighted blanket approach. Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering (2013), 33(5):463-470.
Two other major studies were carried out on the positive effects of weighted blankets: one was published in Australasian Psychiatry in 2012, and the other was carried out by mental health occupational therapists in 2008. They studied the use of weighted blankets in psychiatric care units.
The researchers found that when patients used the weighted blankets, there was a significant decrease in clinically noted distress and anxiety, compared to patients who did not.
It has been suggested that individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may also experience stress relief with deep pressure stimulation from a weighted blanket. The release of serotonin and endorphins has been found to facilitate calm and relaxation, promote sleep, and allow patients to better manage their symptoms. Similarly, positive effects of weighted blankets have been shown in individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Source: Mullen, Brian, et al. Exploring the safety and therapeutic effects of deep pressure stimulation using a weighted blanket. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health (2008), 24(1):65-89.
Overall improvement of sleep.
We want to tell you about another study published in 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders, which found that a weighted blanket helped individuals with insomnia sleep better. Here is an excerpt from their results:
"Objectively, we found that sleep bout time increased, as well as a decrease in movements of the participants, during weighted blanket use. Subjectively, the participants liked sleeping with the blanket, found it easier to settle down to sleep and had an improved sleep, where they felt more refreshed in the morning. Overall, we found that when the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep. A weighted blanket may aid in reducing insomnia through altered tactile inputs, thus may provide an innovative, non-pharmacological approach and complementary tool to improve sleep quality."
Source: Ackerley, R., G. Badre, and H. Olausson. Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders (2015), 2(3):1-7.
Why do we believe in our product?
Be Humance's weighted blankets are filled with tiny eco-friendly glass marbles. We had our blankets custom-made by our supplier to ensure rigorous quality standards and to create a truly therapeutic product. Our weighted blankets can be used in the same way as a magic bag, either warmed in the dryer or cooled in the freezer.
Our multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals is convinced that our product is effective, as the blankets have been tested by several of our clients and by our team members.
Plus, we believe that you don't need to have a diagnosed medical condition to treat yourself to a weighted blanket! EVERYONE can and should benefit from the regulatory effects that weighted blankets have on our brain and body. It may be the right time for you to integrate a weighted blanket into your daily self-care and relaxation routine, wherever you are. Weighted blankets can be used just about anywhere, even while you’re traveling!
If you’re still not convinced, check out our related post listing 10 reasons why you need a weighted blanket!
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