The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Why you should switch to a weighted blanket

As university work builds up, the possibility of anxiety and stress comes with it. Lucy Wyndham describes how something as simple as a weighted blanket can help your health

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Most students in Manchester are familiar with the feeling of dealing with anxiety at university, whether before a test, a date, or a big meeting. Worrying too much can cause much more damage than just premature wrinkles, and it’s important to cope with the issue in a healthy manner. If you let your anxiety get the best of you it can lead to a stress response, including symptoms such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, digestive disorders, and even short-term memory loss.

Some students turn to therapy and medication in order to combat anxiety, but this isn’t always a viable option. One of the most simple, safe, and effective ways to combat anxiety without the use of drugs is through ‘Deep Touch Pressure Therapy’, or DTP. Gentle weight is distributed over the body to help create a feeling of security and safety that can calm anxious patients. There are many ways to administer DTP, but by far one of the easiest ways to do so by yourself at home is by using a weighted blanket. Switching from a regular duvet to a weighted blanket provides a number of benefits to stressed-out university students by helping to ease anxiety.

What are weighted blankets?

Weighted blankets are a powerful therapy tool that’s gained popularity in recent years as a way to combat anxiety. They are essentially designed to mimic a full-body hug, providing both warmth and gentle pressure throughout the night. This stimulates deep pressure touch receptors, which help muscles to relax. You can find weighted blankets in a variety of sizes and thicknesses.

The benefits of weighted blankets

They say that everybody needs eight hugs a day, and there’s some truth to this old advice. Hugs can help to relax both the mind and body by stimulating the release of a hormone called oxytocin, otherwise known as the ‘love’ hormone. This is the same chemical that mothers secrete when they meet their newborn baby, or that gives new lovers that honeymoon experience.

By mimicking a hug, weighted blankets encourage your body to produce oxytocin, helping to reduce blood pressure and relaxing your muscles. Heavy blankets also stimulate the production of serotonin, a hormone involved in pleasure and stress reduction, along with melatonin. By altering your melatonin levels, a weighted blanket can help you to sleep better, which can be a godsend for students suffering from insomnia as well.

Too many students suffer from anxiety without seeking help. While it might not be the answer to all of your problems, a weighted blanket can help you to relax and sleep better at night.