Weighted Blankets: Do They Work?

Photo from forbes.com

Sleep and college do not always mix well. Most students can attest to the fact that getting enough sleep, especially quality sleep, is a rare occurrence amid busy college schedules and heavy course loads. This lack of satisfying sleep usually has to do with the stress and anxiety that has built up from all of these outside factors weighing on you. If you are looking to relieve some of this stress and anxiety when it comes time to go to bed, a weighted blanket might be exactly what you need.

You have probably seen ads for weighted blankets flooding your Instagram feed, but probably thought it was a scam or a waste of money. But weighted blankets do a lot more than it might seem. They are exactly what they sound like — regular blankets with added weight inside of them. Hypoallergenic, non-toxic polypropylene pellets are what give the blankets their weight. When you think of blanket, the obvious use it to cover your body and keep you warm while you get cozy to watch Netflix, read a book, take a nap or just go to sleep for the night. Blankets provide a sense of comfort and relaxation for everyone, but weighted blankets take this feeling to the next level.

How Do They Work?

Weighted blankets use something called ​deep touch pressure therapy​. This phenomenon works almost like a big hug for your entire body. Deep touch pressure theory boosts a hormone called oxytocin, especially in people with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorders and anxiety disorders. The oxytocin hormone works well for people with these disorders, but it also has the same beneficial effect for people with everyday stress or anxiety. Most people know that hugs have a warming and comforting effect on you, and oxytocin delivers that same effect. This hormone is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for making you feel relaxed, comforted, calm and happy as a result. According to ​Psychology Today​, “​Oxytocin is a hormone directly linked to human bonding and increasing trust and loyalty.” The feeling that you get from the occasional hug or cuddle session can be felt whenever needed with a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets activate the oxytocin hormone to make you feel the same as you would from human touch.

Oxytocin and the benefits of weighted blankets are particularly helpful for calming and relaxing people with more major disorders like autism and ADHD, but they are ​helpful for other health issues and concerns​, too. Deep touch pressure therapy can be useful for insomnia, restless leg syndrome or fibromyalgia. Since anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, and everyone experiences some level of stress in their daily lives, weighted blankets could benefit many of you during your chaotic time in college, and beyond. Anxiety not only affects you mentally during the day, but it can also make falling asleep at night a challenge. A ​study​ examining the effects of weighted blankets on adults revealed that 63% of those tested felt less anxious while using the weighted blanket, and that there was a 33% drop in ​electrodermal activity​, which is a hormonal response to stress.

If you know that stress and anxiety prevent you from being productive during the day or falling asleep at night, a weighted blanket could be your answer. With the relief of this stress and anxiety not only comes better sleep, but also a better grades and a happier, more positive mood. If you have not yet tried a weighted blanket, you just might find that it’s your new secret weapon for relaxing after a long day of studying. And with the cold winter months creeping up, who doesn’t want an excuse to curl up in bed with a blanket and watch your favorite show on Netflix?


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