• By Vivien Williams

Mayo Clinic Minute: How weighted blankets may lift anxiety

May 16, 2019

Anxiety can cause sleepless nights. But is there anything you can do to calm the worrying and relax? Some people claim that wrapping up in a weighted blanket reduces their symptoms of anxiety.

Dr. Adam Perlman, Director of Integrative Health and Wellbeing Mayo Clinic Florida, says research offers insight into how weighted blankets may work.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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Do weighted blankets really reduce anxiety?

"Do they work, and if they work, how do they work?" Dr. Perlman asks.

Dr. Perlman says small clinical trials "have shown that people who use weighted blankets do report better sleep. They report less stress and anxiety, and there's even one small study where they reported less pain."

Weighted blankets may cause the same responses in your body that happen when you get a hug. You get a surge of feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin.

"A decrease of cortisol, which is sort of our stress hormone, and an increase of serotonin and dopamine — two neurotransmitters that really affect our mood," Dr. Perlman says.

The blankets help you feel grounded and relaxed, which may help you sleep better.

"What is it about the blankets that give this, perhaps, simulation of a hug or an actual hug that leads to our feeling more relaxed, and maybe better able to sleep? Again, that comes likely through the physiologic response in the body," Dr. Perlman says.

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