If you have been in a Sage Hill Counseling office in the past year, you may have noticed a chunky blanket draped over a couch or chair. These quirkily shaped blankets are stuffed with heavy beads in varying weights. You may be wondering why a counseling center has heavy blankets in each office. The concept definitely sounds strange until the science behind weighted blanket therapy is explained.
Weighted blankets are a tool that helps people in several ways, both in and out of the counseling office. Physiologically, weighted blankets work similarly to a deep tissue massage. The pressure of the blanket helps release serotonin, “the feel good hormone,” into our bodies. This release of serotonin helps the body calm itself during periods of intense anxiety or overstimulation. Using this tool during a counseling session allows some clients to remain rooted in their bodies and present in a session when painful memories and feelings threaten to overwhelm them. It works the exact same way as swaddling an infant when he or she is upset. We need not grow out of needing our bodies to be comforted.
Outside of their uses in therapy sessions, weighted blankets can help people fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep deeper. This phenomenon leads us back to the weighted blanket’s ability to help release serotonin. Serotonin is a precursor to the hormone melatonin, which is a hormone that tells your body that it is time to begin preparing to go to sleep. This is the exact same reason that turkey is rumored to make us sleepy, as it helps in serotonin production. Simply, no serotonin equals no melatonin, which produces restless nights. Improved sleep is an improved life.