When Keith Zivalich’s daughter draped a long lizard beanie baby over his shoulders while he was driving, he noticed that he felt relaxed and he enjoyed the feeling. He wanted to take this feeling further, and decided to build a blanket out of the same materials. The blankets that he made are filled with plastic poly pellets (same as beanie babies), are just large enough to cover the body and were roughly sixteen pounds (1).
The Magic Blanket
Everyone who uses one claims to have better sleep and feels more rested when they wake. A girl even wrote to him calling it her magic blanket, and with this, the name of his product was born. According to Zivalich, the magic blanket with it’s added weight and comfort help the brain release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, improving mood and inducing a calming effect (1).
Occupational therapist Karen Moore explains, “Weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.” She’s backed up with research evidence, too! A 2015 pilot study concluded that weighted blankets are a safe and effective way to help calm anxiety- with results showing a 60% reduction in feelings of anxiety and physiological effects such as heart rate and blood pressure.
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Weighted blankets have been used in occupational therapy for children experiencing sensory disorders, anxiety, stress, or issues related to autism. But even those without disorders find benefits of sleeping with the magic blanket, such as better sleep and waking up happier and more focused (1).
But Zivalich isn’t the only one with this great idea, since he came up with his blanket there are a few other companies that have emerged. They are Mosaic Weighted Blanket, Weighting Comforts, and SensaCalm. Zivalich’s blankets retail for between sixty and a hundred and seventy-five dollars. Initially, just for children, he’s since made one large enough for an adult so if you are curious about the effects of the weighted blanket, give it a try. And if you’re interested in a weighted blanket that doesn’t use plastics you should try this one, that’s made from organic buckwheat by L-OMA organic buckwheat pillows. Or this one, also an organic version, made with glass beads by Sensory Goods.
A full night’s rest
There are many benefits to using a weighted blanket. For instance those with insomnia or sleep disorders that have trouble with uninterrupted, restful sleep and who find themselves exhausted most of the time will find their general wellbeing positively affected by the blanket. The pressure of the weighted blanket reaches deep within the body of the user to provide a comfortable environment for a person to fall asleep in. Being surrounded by the plastic poly pellets makes you feel warm and safe. This helps put the mind at ease and relax the body, allowing the person to have tranquility and a full night’s rest (1).
The blanket surrounds and envelops the body in a way that feels similar to a hug! Studies have shown that people who hug more often have a higher level of oxytocin. (2) This chemical increases relaxation and allows your body to be calm and helps the chance of a good night’s sleep.
Serotonin and melatonin
According to Zivalich, serotonin and melatonin are both increased by using the blanket. Serotonin is the happy hormone and a lack of it in the body can lead to depression, insomnia, and anxiety. When the hormone is at work, it makes you feel calmer allowing you to sleep better (3). Melatonin is the sleep hormone and is produced alongside serotonin. When the blanket exerts gentle yet firm pressure on your body, it stimulates your receptors and quantities of both are used by the body to contribute to sleep (4).
Whatever your reasons for using a weighted blanket during sleep, you won’t regret it. The added weight of the blanket will relax you while increasing neurotransmitters designed to help you sleep in comfort. If you want to get your own or at least check it out, you can here.
(1) Forbes. Weighted Blanket Can Help More Than Just Sleep Problems http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhochman/2014/04/25/weighted-blanket-can-help-more-than-just-sleep-problems/#2652c78373bb Published: April 25, 2014. Accessed: December 8, 2016.
(2) NCBI. More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levles are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15740822 . Published: April, 2005. Accessed: Dec 8, 2016.
(3) NCBI. Serotonin Involvement in Physiological Function and Behavior https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27940/ Accessed: December 8, 2016.
(4) NCBI. Meta-analysis: Melatonin for the treatment of primary sleep disorders https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23691095 Published: May 17, 2013. Accessed: December 8, 2016.
(5) SensaCalm. 10 Therapeutic Benefits of Weighted Blankets http://www.sensacalm.com/10-therapeutic-benefits-weighted-blankets/ Accessed: December 8, 2016.
(6) Youtube. Weighted blankets for anxiety, insomnia, and more https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=weighted+blanket Published: August 1, 2016. Accessed: December 8, 2016.
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