The Science Behind Weighted Blankets & Why You Need One

The easiest way to understand deep touch pressure is to think of a hug. Not one of those half hearted, one armed awkward hugs, but a big cuddly bear hug.

What do you feel?

  • Calmness?
  • Happiness?
  • Relaxation?
  • All of the above?

That’s because your body is experiencing deep pressure therapy and in turn is surging with serotonin and dopamine; the happy hormones that calm you down and regulate your mood.

What is Deep Touch Pressure Therapy? (DTP)

Deep Touch Pressure Therapy is the science of applying a firm but gentle weight to the body to promote a general sense of calm and peace.

Weighted blankets use Deep Touch Pressure Therapy (DTP) to regulate chemicals in your brain, relax your nervous system and restore your mood.

Mimicing the feel-good effect of a tight hug, the blankets apply a gentle pressure over your body encouraging your brain to produce sleep-inducing hormones, fight stress and cue relaxation.

These hormones include serotonin, dopamine (feel-good hormones) and melatonin (the sleep hormone).

Together, they work to reduce anxiety, manage pain, induce relaxation, and encourage deeper sleep so that you can feel a better overall sense of calm and well-being.

DTP can be applied through several methods including:

  • Hugs
  • Weighted Blankets & Vests
  • Deep Tissue Massages
  • Squeezing, Holding etc.

How Does Deep Touch Pressure Therapy Work?

When deep touch pressure is applied to the body, it triggers a switch that deactivates your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and activates your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS).

You should aim to spend as much time in the PSNS as possible, but those with anxiety struggle to do so. Your sympathetic nervous system is your own personal security alarm. It kicks in when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or scared and activates your “fight or flight” response.

The parasympathetic nervous system is completely the opposite. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, get ready to feel zen! It slows down your heart rate, relaxes your muscles, improves your circulation, AND creates endorphins (the happy hormones).

Once the parasympathetic nervous system is online, a rush of neurotransmitters called dopamine and serotonin are released into the brain.

Dopamine is responsible for feelings of:

  1. Pleasure
  2. Satisfaction
  3. Motivation
  4. Sense of Achievement

Using Weighted Blankets for Anxiety

It’s no secret that weighted blankets add an entirely new dream-like dimension to bedtime, but there is far more to them than just comfort.

Using deep touch pressure therapy, they release tension and trigger happy, calming hormones that flood your body like a warm bath.

It’s totally normal to be sceptical that an overweight blanket could outweigh anxiety, but remember that anxious thoughts, stress, high blood pressure and increased heart rates are all very closely linked with your hormones.

Click here to read more on weighted blankets for anxiety.

Why Weighted Blankets Are Worth Investing In

Whilst most forms of DTP come free, they aren’t always available. That’s were weighted blankets come in.

Weighted blankets are heavy blankets, loved for their therapeutical, anxiety-quashing benefits and their magical ability to make you fall asleep. They’re usually filled with heavy beads that are evenly spread throughout the blanket.

Suitable for both children (kids weighted blankets) and adults, they’re available in different sizes and weights to suit you (a blanket that weighs 10% of your body weight is recommended).

Designed to melt away stress and encourage a deep, restorative sleep weighted blankets are also used to help sensory needs, improve well-being and guide away restlessness.

Could a weighted blanket be your new favourite night-time companion?

Although deep touch pressure comes with many benefits, it is likely that each person will respond differently to this therapy and unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the feeling of pressure on their body.

Before investing in a product which provides deep touch pressure, it’s important to understand your sensory processing needs. If you seek or enjoy heavy sensory input such as cuddles, being touched or wearing heavy clothes or layers, then deep touch pressure could be perfect for you!

However, if you are overwhelmed or irritated by heavy touch then we wouldn’t advise deep touch pressure therapy. It may make you feel claustrophobic or stressed.

Conditions that effect the sensory integration system like Autism are complicated and a deeper understanding of your sensory needs is required before trying DTP. This article about using weighted blankets for autism explains this further.

Let’s Wrap It Up

To summarise, deep touch pressure therapy is the science of applying pressure to the body to trigger a calming, relaxed sensation throughout the body. This kind of therapy is often used to calm anxiety and reduce arousal levels.

But not everybody can benefit from deep touch pressure therapy. The benefits and methods should be well thought out and adjusted to the individual’s needs.

Weighted blankets are the easiest, and most effective method of applying deep touch pressure therapy. They can be used to help individuals with Anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorders, Insomnia and more.

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