Ever finish a really stressful day craving a big hug? Same. Turns out, the reason this happens can all be chalked up to science. The “deep pressure touch” effect has been studied for decades as an answer to helping relieve anxiety. And, as research progresses, it’s now being tapped for insomnia as well as an ADHD and autism treatments also.
According to psychotherapist Ginnie Love Thompson, PhD: “When someone’s upset and you hug them, the hug not only offers emotional security, but research has also proven firm contact of the physical sensory produces an effect that calms the parasympathetic nervous system.”
It does so by reducing the body’s secretion of the stress hormone cortisol, which is also responsible for lessened serotonin and dopamine. But buying a weighted blanket isn’t as simple as just clicking add to cart. Commonly weighted blankets range between four to 30 pounds, and when choosing one, you should plan for it to account for about 7 to twelve percent of your body weight.
“Think of when someone’s upset and you hug them, the hug not offers emotional security, but research has also proven firm contact of the physical sensory produces an effect that calms the parasympathetic nervous system.”
Although serotonin by itself produces relaxation, says Thompson, it can also be converted by the body into melatonin to help induce sleep. So although once just known for their calming benefits in a professional setting, she suggests that weighted blankets are becoming increasingly popular for the reduction of both stress and insomnia.
But don’t worry—it’s not like you’ll swaddle yourself in one and fall asleep in five seconds later. “The blankets are safe to use any time you wish to induce a relaxation—knowing that deep relaxation can lead to sleep, but it also doesn’t have to,” she explains. Sadly, there’s not yet a Snuggie version just yet.
Shop 6 weighted blankets worth the investment below.
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