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If you’ve ever suffered from stress, anxiety or insomnia, you know how frustrating those feelings of helplessness and panic can be.
Millions of people around the world suffer from stress and anxiety. In the United States, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Now, instead of turning to pharmaceuticals as a remedy, sufferers can try a gentler form of relief: weighted blankets.
It sounds laughably simplistic, but the act of sleeping with a weighted blanket encourages something called Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation (DTPS), a sensation similar to getting a massage.
Though DTPS is relatively new on the therapeutic scene, it’s an age-old practice, lending legitimacy to the idea that weighted blankets could relieve anxiety.
In an article from Collective Evolution, occupational therapist Karen Moore says in psychiatric care, “weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.”
Though many of the studies surrounding DTPS are too small to be conclusive, there have been a number of successful trials, including one published in Australasian Psychiatry in 2012.
So, how do weighted blankets work? Think of the pressure like a soothing hug. It encourages the production of serotonin, which is a natural mood booster. Serotonin then converts to melatonin, the same chemical naturally present in warm milk that helps the body relax.
Plastic poly pellets are the most common way to create weighted blankets. The pellets are sewn into evenly-distributed compartments throughout the blanket. The weight (between 15 to 30 pounds is recommended for adults), stimulates the deep touch receptors all over your body.
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There are a number of weighted blankets currently available on the market. Mosaic Weighted Blankets sells blankets for adults and children, starting at around $95. Target also has weighted blankets available, starting at $69.99.
You can choose from among a variety of different patterns, and select the weight that is right for your body. The company even has a handy chart to let you know how heavy your blanket should be based on your weight.
SensaCalm is another company that sells both ready-to-ship and custom-weighted blankets. Finished blanket prices range from about $95 to $300.
This 34 x 50-inch “cuddle blanket,” for example, weighs 5 pounds and sells for $143.95.
Speak with your physician or mental health professional before purchasing a weighted blanket.
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