It’s 2018, so I’m going to assume that, like me, you’re at least stressed out of your eyeballs most weeks. Let’s chalk it up to our probably unhealthy diet of social media, hectic jobs, and binge-watching TV when we should be doing life admin.
You may also be like me and suffer from anxiety. Mine is relatively under control thanks to years of psychologist visits and prescribed meds, but I still get bouts of it from time to time.
Because of this, I looked into weighted therapy blankets. The glass beads that are sewn into the blanket are designed to be 10% of your body weight. Weighted therapy blankets have been used by occupational therapists for years as a way of naturally aiding with sleep for those with autism, and more recently have been made available to the general public to help with everything from stress, anxiety and depression to ADHD, PTSD and sensory processing disorders. The weights help to improve mood and relaxation by naturally promoting the release of endorphins.
Thing is, they can be quite expensive. So we trialled one from Therapy Blanket for you for a month, so you can suss the benefits and whether they’re something worth investing in.
I’ve got generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder – it’s the panic that usually causes me the most grief. As I explained, I’ve got it all relatively under control thanks to meds and psych visits, but every now and then if life gets a bit fucked, it can flare up.
I first tried sleeping with my therapy blanket. It’s definitely soothing when you first get it on top of you (while they’re only 10% of your body weight, they’re actually quite heavy to move around so it takes a bit to get comfy under there). I would say the sensation is like being hugged, the beads fall around you so you feel tucked in, but not in a crazy restrictive way like you can get with sheet tucking, you know?
However, I found it hard to sleep under the blanket. I tried it for a week and found I’d shove it off me mid-sleep, after struggling a bit to actually get to sleep.
Instead, I tried it while watching TV and reading. Basically, any time I was lounging around on my bed or on the couch, I’d throw it on top of me. This I found extremely beneficial – maybe it was because I was simply relaxing and not “trying” to fall asleep, but the weighted sensation didn’t bother me, and I felt… well the best way to describe it is “safe”. It’s not like I noticed my endorphins pumping, I just felt like I could relax, and anyone with anxiety knows there’s often this undercurrent of feeling unsettled, even when you’re pretty chill for the most part.
Would I buy one myself, after experiencing it? I think if my anxiety was the way it was several years ago, yes. I don’t have many full-blown moments these days, and I think given the price it wouldn’t get the usage that warrants the purchase for me. But if I was having a rough year? Hell yes. It might not have worked as a sleeping aid for me but it was definitely something that improved my mood when I was having some down time.
I don’t have any officially diagnosed anxiety issues, but I definitely get feelings of being overwhelmed, panicked, and worn out. Not super regularly, but enough for me to feel like sometimes I just need a big cuddle and some physical reassurance.
Weighted blankets started popping up on my socials a bit more recently and I’d read up about them, but never thought that I’d need one – despite the fact that my absolutel favourite time of year is when it’s so chilly that I can happily sleep with so many blankets on my bed that I feel like a big animal is lying on top of me.
Oh and I also get panicky about being alone, in the dark, where there are most definitely monsters that will get me. I’m the kind of person that absolutely CANNOT sleep without at least a doona no matter how hot it is outside. It’s 100% a comfort thing, the feeling of being protected (because nothing can get me through a doona).
The weighted blanket, well it was HEAVY. Like I felt like I had to use what minimal amount of upper-body strength I have to pick up the damn thing. But one I got it over my body, boy did I feel safe and secure and protected.
Sleeping with it was nice, until the next day when I’d realised that I’d actually managed to kick it off during the night (my legs are clearly stronger than my arms) and other times I woke up in the middle of the night feeling a bit squashed.
The best way the weighted blanket worked for me was if I was reading a book or watching TV on the couch. Being upright and conscious allowed for me to feel comforted by the blanket, but not suffocated.Image: Therapy Blanket