Living in this hectic modern world, it is almost impossible to avoid stressful situations. Each and every one of us is faced with stress in daily life. And today, more than ever, we are faced with facts that stress is the mightiest killer for the humankind.
Well, why is it that we allow stress to have such a great impact on our health? Knowing that stress affects every aspect of our existence – physical, psychological, and emotional, we should have a strong mechanism of handling it and make better life choices.
Prolonged stress can result in severe psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression, very common these days. Therefore, we suggest you to consider using a weighted blanket as a wonderful therapeutic tool for stress and stress-related issues.
“Copyright: Unsplash/author: Alexandra Gorn/ I License: CC0 Public Domain.”
What is a Weighted Blanket?
The concept of a weighted blanket has been used for decades now. Acute psychiatry came with the idea at the beginning of the 20thcentury. It was used as a therapeutic tool and calming mechanism for children with severe disorders like autism, post-traumatic disorder, anxiety, and ADHD.
The weighted blanket for adults enters the mainstream use around 2017, and today, the market offers a lot of sophisticated products. It can be made from different fabrics in different sizes and weights.
A weighted blanket is filled with microbeads made from glass or plastic that are evenly spread on the surface in order to make the blanket weight 8-10% of the user’s body.
The Effect of the Weighted Blanket
The additional weight applied to the body by the use of a heavier blanket stimulates what is called a deep pressure touch (DPT).
Starting in the nerve endings on the skin, the pressure of the weighted blanket triggers some beneficial changes in the functioning of the nervous system. Moreover, the feeling of a hug helps the mind to send signals to the body that they’re completely safe and secure.
Therefore, a person feels relaxed, calm, and can easily fall asleep.
The Stress and our Nervous System
There are two divisions of the autonomic nervous system in a human’s body. In order to understand the stress response, we need to explain the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Let’s take a look at their functions:
1. Sympathetic system – the fight or flight response.
- It is activated whenever we are experiencing a stressful situation or a threat. The name implies that in those kinds of cases, the body is ready to fight the danger or try to escape from it. This results in the secretion of both adrenaline and cortisol hormones. They help us stay alert and protect ourselves from danger.
- Our mind cannot differentiate a serious potential threat from stress caused by work or everyday problems. In both cases, the levels of the stress hormone cortisol are rising, resulting in anxious feelings, nervousness, insomnia.
- Prolonged stress can cause our body to be stuck under the control of the sympathetic system. This results in serious hormonal imbalance.
2. Parasympathetic system – the rest and digest state.
- It activates as a response to the sympathetic system. After the stress and danger are gone, the body enters the rest and digest state. It acts with the release of the so-called happiness hormones – serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and melatonin. They promote a feeling of satisfaction, calmness, relaxation, and sound sleep.
- The absence of the hormones in the brain is linked to the developing of many psychological states and illnesses such as anxiety disorder and depression.
The “grounding” feeling that the weighted blanket provides is a result of the parasympathetic system taking over the functioning of the body.
“Copyright: Unsplash/author: Gregory Pappas / I License: CC0 Public Domain”
How Does a Weighted Blanket Help You Fight off Stress?
The deep pressure touch stimulation triggers an instant switch in our body. Once the weighted blanket is applied onto the skin, the pressure on the nerve endings instantly activates the parasympathetic system. As explained above, your mind and body will find their relief from the stress and constant ruling of the sympathetic system.
As long as your body is under the control of the parasympathetic system, the stress hormones are no longer produced, and therefore, the stress is eliminated.
A weighted blanket will immediately fight off the stress. Moreover, this is a relaxation that can lead you to sound sleep. Stressed people are often facing insomnia problem. That is a very logical consequence of prolonged stress. A distressed body is unable to produce melatonin as the only neurotransmitter that can cause your body to fall asleep. Once your blanket activates the parasympathetic system, the production of melatonin starts and the body finds its balance back.