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Weight For It

The five “Feel good, look good and, well, be good to your body” benefits of the weighted blanket…

By Adriana Ermter

Pharrell William’s “Happy” lyrics are so energetic that if he told us he’d sung them following a good night’s sleep beneath a weighted blanket, we wouldn’t be surprised. According to a 2018 study published by the US National Library of Medicine, 63 per cent of adults reported lowered anxiety after lying under a 30-lb. weighted blanket for just five minutes – which explains why the experts at the Sleep Foundation say the boost of serotonin (the “happy hormone”) that you’ll get from a weighted blanked can be likened to a big hug from someone you trust and love. 

The heavy blankets are not newbs; they were originally introduced in 1999 by occupational therapist Tina Champagne as a deep pressure therapy treatment used to regulate emotions and to induce feelings of well-being and calm. But with the launch of the Gravity Blanket on Kickstarter approximately seven years later – coupled with their gain in notoriety courtesy of Instagram posts by A-listers such as Jillian Michaels, Tom Brady, Kourtney Kardashian and Jordan Rodgers – the bamboo, cotton, linen, flannel and rayon-crafted blankets have only grown as a must-have item in recent years. These five health and aesthetic benefits may convince you that a weighted blanket is right for you. (That said, should you have a medical condition such as type 2 diabetes, claustrophobia, or chronic circulatory or respiratory issues including asthma, the Sleep Foundation recommends speaking with your doctor before crawling under a weighted blanket.)

Health benefit #1: Promotes deep sleep 

In Canada, according to ongoing research conducted for and by Hush Blankets, 25 per cent of adults across the nation claim they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep the majority of the time. Weighted blankets are believed to combat your sheep-counting struggles that contribute to insufficient sleep by easing anxiety and calming your heart rate to ensure you fall into a deep sleep. Using deep pressure stimulation, the blankets (which typically range in weight between five and 30 pounds courtesy of their sand, rice, microfibre bead, metal bead and bamboo-fillers) put your autonomic nervous system into rest mode, increasing your levels of melatonin, known as the sleep hormone. 

Health benefit #2: Relieves anxiety symptoms 

Thanks to issues like global warming, unstable political and economic climates, and so much more, anxiety is now a common mental health disorder. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, approximately 275 million people globally suffer from anxiety. Some of its symptoms include a fast heart rate, quick breathing, hyperactivity and shortness of breath, and these are said to be relieved by distributing an even amount of weight across the entire body, which weighted blankets can provide. This weightier sensation is believed to reduce the body’s fight-or-flight response when feeling agitated and can, according to the Sleep Foundation, promote feelings of happiness and relaxation. 

Health benefit #3: Lowers your stress response 

Having an overactive sympathetic nervous system can contribute to obesity and kidney disease, say the experts at Hush Blankets. They believe that the deep pressure stimulation from resting, napping and sleeping under a weighted blanket can calm your nerves and lower your physiological stress levels. 

Heath benefit #4: Eases pain and decreases cortisol levels 

While the experts at the Sleep Foundation attribute the weighted blanket’s deep pressure benefits to increasing serotonin production and lowering cortisol (the stress hormone that has been linked to health issues including heart disease, weight gain and high blood sugar), it can also diminish pain. A 2021 study by the National Library of Medicine found that sleeping with a weighted blanket can reduce pain and ease chronic pain symptoms, which, according to Health Canada, are experienced by nearly eight million Canadians. 

Health benefit #5: Boosts your mood 

Possibly our favourite benefit of all is that in addition to the benefits of improving mental stress and easing pain, weighted blankets can act as a mood booster. Due to the pressure of the weighted blanket, your body increases its production of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone. Combined with the decrease in cortisol, this works to improve your overall mood. And when you feel better, you look better and you do better. Period.

ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.

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