A Weight ON Your Shoulders: My Weighted Blanket experience
"Hi, my name is Ashley. I'm addicted to my weighted blanket."
In college, I struggled with anxiety. Call it first-child syndrome, or a Type A personality, but I was always concerned that I wasn't performing well enough. For a while, I even took anxiety and depression medications, but they did nothing except make me feel like I was a walking zombie. As I've gotten older, I've realized that many of these pressures and compulsions are completely self-driven and I've been able to work through many of these behaviors without the use of medications.
So, color me intrigued by the idea of a weighted blanket. I had been seeing them pop up in some wellness blogs as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. Check and check! And, it also falls under the category of excessive bedding, which is also one of my favorite things. I have a very large collection of pillows and comforters on my bed and yes, before you ask, I do use them all every night. It's very important.
What does the blanket do?
The idea behind the weighted blanket is similar to the idea of swaddling a child or giving someone a tight hug. The pressure from the contact releases oxytocin - the cuddling hormone - causing the person to calm. The calming pressure helps reduce stress, fear, anxiety, and even blood pressure. These blankets have long been used by therapists for people with autism, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and even PTSD.
The light pressure on the body while sleeping also helps by decreasing nighttime levels of cortisol, your stress hormone. Cortisol is what is released in your fight-or-flight reaction. Cortisol wrecks havoc on your body by flooding your body with glucose, increasing blood sugar and decreasing insulin sensitivity. Over time, this leads to weight gain and a susceptibility to Type II diabetes.
This weighted effect is referred to as "grounding," a form of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), which reduces activity in your autonomic nervous system. This process also causes the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (those feel good hormones) and, with serotonin's help, melatonin (the sleep hormone). All three of these play a critical role in a healthy lifestyle and help regulate mood, concentration, productivity and sleep.
I got my weighted blanket from Amazon. The recommendations suggested getting one at about 10-15% of your body weight so mine is 15 pounds. I also got a twin size blanket for two main reasons. For one, I wanted to be able to use it around the house. Studies have shown that it is equally effective whether you are sleeping, reading, or watching television. A queen sized weighted blanket seemed like a hassle to drag around the house. As well, I share my bed with my boyfriend and I knew that he would kill me if I suddenly put a weighted blanket on his body. I don't even want to get started on our discussions about how my cozy comforter is too hot for him..
I find that the twin size is actually the perfect size. For one, it fits perfectly on my side of the bed. But also, the weighted blanket is perfectly positioned over my body and I feel like it wraps around my body and stays in place. I've been using the blanket for a week now, both sleeping with it at night and for naps and I have to say that I'm in love.
It's not hot. That's probably the first question that everyone asks me. No, it's not hot at all. Now, I will say that I'm not a hot sleeper. I sleep through the middle of a hot Austin summer with a heavy down comforter. I would gladly add on more blankets, if my boyfriend would let me. But, if you do sleep hot, you shouldn't notice any additional heat. Some of the blankets are even filled with special beads to make the blankets feel cool.
I sleep deeper. I've already created a fairly religious nightly sleep routine, but this girl didn't stir. Maybe the extra weight helps me not feel the cats crawling over my body, but I feel as though I slept deeper and more restfully. In terms of feeling more relaxed, I do enjoy the pressure. I'm a big believer in anything that is non-medicinal, and something about the weight makes me feel at ease. It's something akin to a big hug and the weights feels comfortable and secure.
There are inexpensive options*. I'll always put an asterisk next to these types of statements because I feel like, in some things, you get what you pay for. For me, bedding is one thing that I have no issue spending good money on because, let's face it, you'll sleep on it every night. It's worth the money to have soft, breathable sheets and bedding, so I feel like a weighted blanket is no different. I've linked below a variety of options for weighted blankets and I've seen them range from $50 all the way up to $250+. Again, this is going to range based on size, weight, and brand. My exact blanket cost about $70, which is on the lower end and extremely affordable for something I'm going to use every day (as least I think so).
Have you tried a weighted blanket? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments below!
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