Here's What A Weighted Blanket Can And Can't Do For You

Over the past year-and-a-half or so, we have all heard a great deal about being "touch starved" due to isolation that has ensued during quarantine and social distancing. The Texas Medical Center says that the term "touch starvation" is an accurate description for the phenomenon, as our bodies and minds tell us we need a hug or physical contact with another human, but because of circumstantial situations (like, in this case, the pandemic), we are not able to satiate that need. The result is increased stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative symptoms. 

One way people have been coping with this loss of physical human contact is to invest in weighted blankets. In fact, using a weighted blanket is said to make the body feel similarly to the way it feels when it is embraced in a hug from another person (via Medical News Today). But do weighted blankets actually have a calming effect on the body and mind, and what about claims that they help to relieve anxiety and assist with restful sleep?  

What a weighted blanket can really do

Interestingly, there have been several studies that proved weighted blankets mimic deep-pressure touch (DPT), which is a technique used to treat anxiety, depression, and other ailments (via laylasleep). Further, because weighted blankets literally weigh you down and push your body toward earth, it can help lower cortisol levels (cortisol is the stress hormone). Lowering cortisol levels when they are too high has been shown to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and provide other health benefits (via Cleveland Clinic). When you reduce your cortisol levels, you also improve blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels (via laylasleep). Weighted blankets can also help your brain to produce and release more melatonin at bed time. 

What weighted blankets can't do is replace a proper medical or psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, so if you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or sleeplessness, it's always a good idea to speak to your doctor. But adding a weighted blanket to your nighttime routine might help you to relax and get a better night's sleep!