It’s been a long day at work and your nervous system is somewhere between unstable and burned out. Resonate? If this sounds like your all-too-often scene, you may want to introduce yourself to a weighted blanket. Thanks to its comforting weight, this special blanket can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, calm your nerves and help you to sleep. Consider them to be the adult version of your childhood safety blanket. 

How do weighted blankets work?

Weighted blankets, also known as gravity blankets, work in thanks to Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). DTP releases serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the body that, when combined with other hormones, decreases stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, increases feelings of happiness, regulates mood, slows your heart rate and improves sleep. One of the best weighted blankets? The eco-friendly, 100% French linen Weighted Cotton Blanket by Baloo. It’s “designed to mimic the feeling of a firm hug,” providing your body and your nervous system with an immediate sensation of security.

Weighted blankets can also decrease activity in the nervous system. One study showed that 33 percent of people who use weighted blankets experienced such decreased levels of activity, including pulse rate and blood pressure, and 63 percent of people experienced decreased levels of anxiety. 

When we experience anxiety, our nervous system enters fight-or-flight mode. Living under this constant pressure can force our sympathetic nervous system to operate on overdrive. This, in turn, may result in accelerated heart rate, constricted blood vessels, a rise in blood pressure and even slower digestion. During prolonged periods of stress and anxiety, our sympathetic nervous system is shooting out signals to areas across our bodies, alerting us that we are facing threats. When in reality, our daily life stresses are unlikely life-threatening. 

The benefits of using a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets offer our bodies a chance to switch from fight or flight mode to the much more stable and soothing, rest-and-digest mode that is also regulated by our parasympathetic nervous system. Our bodies receive the signal that they needn’t be protecting us or fighting threats, and so the parasympathetic nervous system calms down and finds balance. It arrives at a more serene state. 

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Because DTP increases serotonin levels, which are linked to melatonin (the chemical in the body that regulates our sleep and wake cycles), weighted blankets can help you to move around less during the night, relax and sleep more deeply. We are so, so in. DTP is the same pressure that makes things like massages and good hugs feel satisfying, grounding and calming.

How much should your weighted blanket weigh?

This is important. Refer to your own weight to help you determine the weight of the blanket that’s best for your needs. A good rule of thumb is to choose a blanket that’s eight to twelve percent of your body weight. If you fall in the middle of the range, there are a few factors to consider. Choose the 15 lb blanket if you usually sleep on your side, or have joint pain, especially in your knees, hips or back. Or opt for the 20 lb weight if you are a healthy adult who usually sleeps on their stomach or back. 

How to wash a weighted blanket

Your weighted blanket takes care of you, so how should you care for it? Balloo weighted blankets can be machine washed using cold water on the gentle cycle with whites only, and dried on low heat. The blankets will dry surprisingly quickly, so they don’t need a long dry cycle. Balloo recommends that you do not dry clean or iron the blankets. They’ll become softer and softer with every wash. Though these care instructions apply to many other weighted blankets, be sure to double-check the tag on yours in case it requires special care.

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