Have you heard of gravity blankets? They can weigh up to 25 pounds, they’ve become wildly popular in the past several years, and the benefits seem to be aplenty.
First, let us explain exactly what is a gravity blanket.
Simply put, it’s heavier than a regular blanket -- like, quite a bit more -- and it comes in different weights and sizes. By using an internal gridded stitching, it ensures the blanket’s internal micro beads stay evenly distributed.
Ideally, the weighted blankets are engineered to be 7-12% of your body weight.
If you’re having a hard time envisioning what that might feel like, think of the feeling an X-ray apron gives you at the dentist’s office.
People report ‘magic’ of blanket
While there aren't a lot of published studies on the blankets, firsthand experiences seem to confirm their magic.
"I took a nap with my sister’s weighted blanket. I felt like someone put a spell on me. I was out in minutes," Lori Housman said.
Many people have said the blanket has helped them to be more relaxed and sleep better, along with fixing some other issues.
“My husband has restless legs sometimes, and it really helps with that,” Kate Robinson said. “I have struggled in the past with racing thoughts and difficulty falling asleep. Since we’ve had the blanket, I haven’t had one night where falling asleep is difficult. I also feel like I sleep much more deeply.”
Jaclyn Annis said she wouldn't trade hers for anything.
"I have a hard time relaxing to get to sleep. I have always wrapped myself up tight in multiple blankets because the weight and pressure is soothing to me,” Annis said. “I got one for Christmas and it’s been the best thing. From another side of it, it helps with my stress and anxiety.”
What does the gravity blanket do?
People seem to love it, but what exactly does it do?
According to gravityblankets.com, the weight of the blanket is supposed to relax the nervous system by simulating the feeling of being held or hugged.
It can reduce stress and anxiety by using deep touch pressure stimulation.
Applied behavioral analysts report that when deep pressure is applied to the body, it switches from running the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) — what we know as “fight or flight.”
SNS is what we may refer to as the body’s “alert” system. Think of stressful situations, like the pressure when you have a deadline for something, you almost get into a car crash or you’re driving in a bad storm.
If the SNS takes over your body for too long, it can cause you to be on edge, irritable and feel anxious or tired.
Deep pressure stimulation can increase serotonin and melatonin, which relaxes you, and decreases cortisol, which is responsible for stress.
Triggering these things can lead to more motivation, impulse control, better attention, memory, social behavior and digestion.
Being more relaxed and less stressed can also help you fall asleep more quickly, as well as fall into a much deeper sleep.
A Swedish study found that 31 men and women who suffered from insomnia reported a calmer and more comfortable night’s sleep after using the blanket for two weeks, according to WebMD.
The deep pressure has been found to not only calm people who have anxiety, but it helps people who have attention difficulties, PTSD and autism, among other things.
Helping with sensory processing issues
Here’s where the SNS comes back into the picture. Applied behavioral analysts say kids who are on the autism spectrum or have sensory processing disorders spend a lot of time stuck in the SNS, and even when they do find a way to calm down, they can be triggered quickly.
When that deep pressure is applied, it helps the PSNS to kick in, calming the person down.
“They are amazing! I use them almost every single day with my kiddos at school,” said teacher Erin Easum, who works with children who have special needs. “They are a great tool to have available in a calming corner and during circle time. They serve many purposes -- security, calming, sensory and spatial awareness for nearby friends.”
For everyone who tends to get hot quickly, or who lives in a warmer climate and can't imagine not breaking a sweat under one of these, the company has a gravity cooling blanket, too. It's engineered to pull away moisture, keeping users cool and comfortable, but it still carries the same weight.
The gravity blanket was named by Time magazine in its best inventions of 2018, along with being featured on “Today,” in Men’s Health, CountryLiving, Glamour, the New York Post and WebMD, among others.
How else can it help?
Like we said before, the benefits of the blanket seem to be aplenty. With the deep pressure therapy it provides, other ways people could possibly be positively affected include:
- Lowered hypersensitivity to touch
- Improved social interactions
- Improved focus
- Lowered incidence of seizures
- Decrease in self-injury
- Increased happiness
It couldn't hurt anyone to have increased happiness, right?
Have you tried the gravity blanket? Has it helped you deal with anything with which you’ve struggled? Let us know in the comment section below.