This Twist on a Winter Staple is Your Secret to Dealing With Holiday Stress

This Twist on a Winter Staple is Your Secret to Dealing With Holiday Stress

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English Taylor
Dec 14, 2017

Besides keeping us toasty and comfy, blankets are a simple way to add texture, pattern, and an inviting element to your home. But according to recent research, the benefits of a certain type of blanket extend far beyond insulation, comfort, and aesthetics. Weighted blankets —which weigh much more than your typical quilt or comforter—can boost mental and emotional health by improving symptoms of anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

The Science Behind Weighted Blankets

Weighing anywhere from four to 30 pounds, weighted blankets exert downward force on the body. This is referred to as "grounding" or "earthing." The weight of the blanket is also a form of deep pressure touch (DPT), which generates physical sensations similar to hugging or being held.

Both grounding and DPT promote relaxation, which can lower cortisol levels. When we're stressed or anxious, our mind signals to our body that something isn't right or safe. Our body releases the hormone cortisol, which makes it difficult to relax or fall asleep. Our heart and minds may race, we might feel restless, or our stomach can become upset. Our body is preparing itself to fight or flee from what's making us stressed or anxious. This is also known as the "fight-or-flight response."

But the relaxing effects of grounding and DPT can help us calm down and counter these symptoms of stress, anxiety, and insomnia, in turn lowering cortisol levels. In one research study, 63% of participants reported lower anxiety levels after using a weighted blanket. Another study demonstrated that participants experienced higher-quality sleep and felt more calm, secure, and comfortable with a weighted blanket.

How to Use Weighted Blankets

A weighted blanket is a perfect option when you're having trouble sleeping or feeling anxious or stressed. Cocoon yourself in a weighted blanket on the couch or in bed when you're trying to relax or fall asleep. Try covering as much of your body as you can with the blanket so all parts receive the benefits of grounding and DPT.

How to Choose a Weighted Blanket

It's always a good idea to check in with a medical professional before using a weighted blanket or any item to help you manage your health. For adults, Healthline states that some manufacturers suggest a blanket that's five to 10 percent of their body weight. For children, blankets that are 10 percent of their body weight plus one to two pounds are ideal. Healthline also recommends using weighted blankets made of natural materials like 100 percent cotton which are more breathable.

A Google search for your desired weight and color scheme (it is a blanket, after all) will point you in the right direction, but here are some of our favorites:

(And if you're looking for the blanket featured in the video, it's this one. )

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