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What is Deep Pressure Therapy and Does it Work?

Perhaps more than ever, many of us find ourselves in an anxiety-inducing state. As we navigate the challenges that face us, self-care has never been a more crucial part of our lives.

As the saying goes, the body keeps count, and anxiety, one of the most common afflictions, is no exception. Deep Pressure Therapy is a key tool in the self-care toolbox and could help people learn self-soothing techniques for when things get difficult. 

This type of therapy has gained considerable traction—between all the research conducted on the topic and the availability of therapeutic applications through products and other treatments, Deep Pressure Therapy is getting the attention it deserves, and we’re going to discuss it in this article.

What Is Deep Pressure Therapy?

First, let’s talk about what Deep Pressure Therapy is. Deep Pressure Therapy, or DPT, is a set of techniques or practices whose key goal is to relax the nervous system. By applying different kinds of pressure to the body (such as squeezing or hugs) using various applications (such as massage, weighted vests, or weighted blankets), DPT helps someone release tension from the body, resulting in an overall sense of peace and calm

DPT has various applications—weighted blankets, which we’ll touch on later, often come up when discussing DPT. Let’s look at how the body’s sensory nervous system comes into play with DPT.

Understanding the Sensory Nervous System

When discussing DPT, it first helps to understand a little bit about the body’s sensory nervous system (also known as the Autonomic Nervous System). The system is complex because its overall role is to regulate various aspects of the body. There are two key subsystems within the overall nervous system network that we’ll touch on before we connect them to DPT:

Computer generated image of a woman's parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system

Fight or Flight

First, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)—When we’re in an anxious state, we can easily activate this system. It is sometimes referred to as “fight or flight” mode when the body kicks into overdrive when it detects a perceived threat. In this mode, our bodies are on high alert because, physiologically, we’re detecting a perceived threat (even if one isn’t there). 

This mode triggers an increased heart rate and rapid breathing. Whether everyday stressors (situations at work, reading a negative headline in the news) or emotional triggers caused by more deep-rooted traumatic events, our SNS kicks into gear and is remarkably adept at doing so.  

Rest and Digest

Second, and most connected to DPT, is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS)—Unlike the SNS, this system’s goal is to calm the body. It’s sometimes referred to as “rest and digest” mode. In this state, the body is more relaxed and releases serotonin and dopamine (also known as “happy” hormones) as well as oxytocin (the “bonding” hormone). 

This section is meant as a brief introduction to the Sensory Nervous System and details that pertain to DPT, but you can learn more about these systems specifically and the nervous system in general here.

Deep Pressure Therapy and the Nervous System

DPT “speaks” to our nervous systems. Through the various applications of touch and pressure, DPT attempts to activate the PSNS through varying degrees of applying pressure, as already mentioned. A common example that many may relate to is swaddling a distressed baby—this image calls to mind an upset child who is comforted by a blanket and perhaps parental embrace. 

Benefits of Deep Pressure Therapy

While everyone may respond in varying ways to DPT, some of the benefits include:

  • A general sense of calm, which can result in reduced anxiety.
  • A sense of relief, through tension being released from the body.
  • A better night’s sleep.
  • A better sense of focus and concentration.

While this type of therapy may have benefits for most, it especially benefits those who are more predisposed to anxiety and sensory overload, such as people on the autism spectrum who, without proper intervention and treatments, may be more likely to remain stuck in the SNS. 

Weighted Blankets: An At-Home Option


Weighted blanket self care upgrade - how a weighted blanket works

Weighted blankets make DPT more accessible to people and have gained popularity over the years. They are heavier than typical blankets, so they can apply more weight and pressure to a person using the blanket. This design results in a grounding sensation on the body, an important step towards activating the calming, soothing state of the PSNS.

Anecdotally, people claim that a weighted blanket helps them feel calmer and more relaxed. A small 2020 study adds some weight to these claims. The study found a “statistically significant drop” in anxiety for adults at the inpatient facility that was the subject of the research. 

Hopefully, more studies on the weighted blanket and other at-home options are not too far behind, but what’s become clear is that people are seeking out methods and products to assist with their anxiety management.

Whether people use a blanket on its own or as a complement to other treatments, people are asking for help in their self-care journeys.

But Does Deep Pressure Therapy Work?

Researchers covered many cross-sections of the general population (children, students, adults, including those with or without anxiety disorders) when looking into how effective DPT is. The research bears out on and is favorable towards DPT, but how people respond to DPT can vary. 

As expected, no treatment or therapeutic application is a one-size-fits-all, so one person is going to respond a little differently than the next. Also, while we cover the benefits of DPT and its applications, nothing is a substitute for advice from a licensed medical professional. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, ask your doctor for guidance.

A Therapy Worth Exploring

Nevertheless, many benefit from the therapeutic nature of DPT. Anecdotally, many benefit from weighted blankets as an application of DPT. Given that anxiety treatment has never been more relevant, the research doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. 

Through tapping into the body’s natural calming mechanisms, Deep Pressure Therapy is a means to an end in the journey towards calm and self-soothing, and that’s a journey well worth taking by anyone who wants to invest in their mental health and wellbeing.

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11 Natural Sleep Remedies You May Not Have Heard Of

We all have that partner or friend who seems to fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow while you lay staring at the ceiling. Getting a good night’s rest should always be a priority. Unfortunately, sleep doesn’t come easy for everyone. 

Insomnia affects up to 30% of the world’s population; that’s almost 1 in 3 Americans. If you’re uncomfortable treating insomnia with medications that leave you groggy, there are some safe alternatives for you to try. Looking for ways on how to fall asleep tonight? Whether you try a weighted blanket for insomnia relief or another method, we have recommendations for you.

Weighted Blankets

Sherpa fleece weighted blanket with sleep eye mask

You may have heard about weighted blankets helping autistic people or those with Asperbergs, but what about insomnia? Swedish researchers find weighted blankets to be a safe and effective insomnia intervention.

The additional weight applies pressure and mimics the sensation of acupressure or massage. Ready for a good night’s sleep? Try a weighted blanket for insomnia relief!

Breathing Techniques

breathing techniques help fall asleep fast

Many yogis over the years have encouraged breathing techniques for relaxation but your skepticism is natural. How can simple breathing techniques and patterns be an effective sleep aid? Before you dismiss the idea, first take a moment to try the 4-7-8. Regular practice can help you fall asleep in a shorter time frame. Plus, it’s free. 

A great way to try for this, that is free, is the Oak Meditation and Breathing app. Some of the mediations charge a fee, but there are free guided breathing exercises that can put you to sleep quickly.


Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, is a physical reaction caused by sound or sight stimuli. Many describe it as a tingling sensation and it creates a sense of calm well-being

Due to its growing popularity, there are many different videos to be found with a variety of sounds; from someone whispering to “pom-pom” lice being removed. Explore different options to see what works for you to get a great night’s sleep.

Avoiding Light Before Bed

Avoid smart phones in bed to prevent insomnia from blue light

Many of us plead guilty of addiction to our Smartphones or other devices and regularly climb into bed with them. How many of us have fallen down the rabbit hole and continued to watch videos, scroll social media feeds, or read articles that interest us right before bed? 

This stimulates the brain and keeps you from getting your Z’s along with suppressing melatonin due to the blue light. Try to avoid looking at your phone a minimum of 30 minutes before bed. If you use your device for bed-time reading, change the screen tone to a sepia-based color and/or try a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Better yet, get out those classics you’ve been meaning to read since high school!


Not just for conspiracy theories or true-time listeners anymore! Podcasts have increasingly become popular with insomniacs, as there are many options available to help you doze off.

One of the most popular is Sleep With Me where its creator, Drew Ackerman, tells you long meandering stories in a flat monotone. Fell asleep and missed the end of the story? Not an issue because you feel so rested this morning you don’t even care. With the Sleep With Me podcast recommendation, Drew purposely tells stories that go nowhere with so many tangents so you don’t get sucked into a story that you feel you need to finish.

Try Another Room or Bed

Many of us have heard the recommendation to avoid using our bed for anything other than sleep. It is also suggested to move to another room after 30 minutes and relax there until you try to fall asleep again.

Another recommendation is to get a new mattress or switch rooms altogether, whether permanently or just when you can’t get to sleep. Ambient light or night sounds may unknowingly be disruptive. Try another room in your house to test your theory and improve your sleep cycle. With the addition of a weighted blanket for insomnia relief, sleep tight!

Sleeping Naked: Socks Only

Get deeper sleep and fall asleep faster sleeping naked with socks on only

While sleeping naked doesn’t appeal to everyone, you may consider donning your birthday suit while slipping on some socks. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. It is nice to feel cozy in bed but too high a room temperature disrupts your REM cycle. Keeping the room cooler allows you to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.

But, why the socks? Warming your feet before bed sends a signal to your brain that it’s sleepy-time. Plus, opening the blood vessels in your hands and feet before bed increases warm blood circulation through the body. This is yet another signal to your body it’s time for bed. Socks may not be sexy, but warm feet, warm heart!

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

During our busy lives, we become so tense that we often don’t recognize what relaxed muscles feel like. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a two-step process where you tense specific muscle groups for 5-10 seconds and then release. Second, you become aware of the change. 

Over time, your body will learn to easily identify the difference in sensation. Soon, you will be able to relax and enjoy a great night’s rest.

There are many free YouTube videos, podcasts, and phone apps that offer guided muscle relaxation if you need some help with this.


Wait, you want me to get high? Not at all. It contains little to no THC, the chemical found in marijuana that has cognitive effects. Hemp products have been used throughout history for food, clothes, and as paper, too. 

CBD has emerged as a natural, safe, and effective sleep aid. CBD oil is a cannabinoid that interacts with our endocannabinoid system. This helps to maintain body functions, including sleep, through regulating our circadian rhythms. It also reduces anxiety, a common cause of insomnia. A few drops under your tongue before bed, and you’ll soon be off to La La Land.


Aromatherapy may help fall asleep, especially lavender scents

Aromatherapy uses essential oils as its foundation. Essential oils have several different benefits, such as energizing you during the day, boosting your immune system, easing anxiety, and improving sleep.

The most widely recognized aromatherapy oil for sleep is lavender. A study found that those who participated reported longer time spent in REM sleep. They also had increased energy upon waking the next day. Wondering how to fall asleep tonight?

Grab a diffuser, add your essential oil and enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep.

Sleep Apps

We use our phones for almost everything these days, so why not aid in sleep? Plus, apps are user-friendly and most are free. There are several varieties to try, depending on your needs. 

Some block out annoying noise that disturbs your sleep, others use guided imagery for relaxation. You can even track your sleep patterns to better learn about your sleep cycle. Some apps help to fix bad sleep habits you may have picked up over time through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Soon enough you will be sleeping like a baby.

Final Thoughts on Natural Sleep Remedies

Whatever the cause of your insomnia, there are many alternative, natural solutions for you to try. Don’t get frustrated if the first doesn’t work immediately. Don’t give up. Choose an idea that sounds right for you. 

A day or two isn’t enough time to retrain your brain. Once you find a solution, whether it’s a weighted blanket or aromatherapy, you will enjoy a well-deserved good night’s sleep. Remember, it took Goldilocks three tries before she found the one that was just right!

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Does a Weighted Blanket Provide Relief for Restless Legs? 

You’ve felt it. There’s a tingly, itchy, or “crawly” sensation in your legs that keeps you awake at night, causing you to shift and move around in bed. Maybe you’ve felt it in the daytime as well, a cold, pressing sensation in your limbs while sitting or during long periods of inactivity, urging you to stretch, walk or massage the affected muscle to relieve the sensation.

What is it? What’s causing it? If there are no other obvious medical conditions that could be causing this discomfort, you may be suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), and you are not alone.

What Is RLS and What Causes It?

Picture of legs in bed for restless legs

RLS is a nervous system disorder that triggers an uncontrollable impulse to move your legs because of unpleasant prickling, itching, or twitching sensations.

Statistics show that around 10 percent of the U.S. population is affected by RLS. It is more common in women than in men, typically starts after age 30, and gets progressively worse as you get older.

You may be diagnosed with RLS if these symptoms mostly happen or get worse at night, disrupt your sleep more than two or three times per week, are not linked to other medical conditions, and if there is a history of RLS in your family. Unfortunately, once they start, the symptoms will persist for the rest of your life, and to date, there is no medically established treatment or cure for this condition.

Side Effects of RLS

Besides the uncomfortable sensations, RLS can also have other side effects. The irresistible urge to move often hampers your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Lack of sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness, potentially affecting your performance at work or while you are driving. Depression and anxiety can often follow as a result of sleeplessness and the reduced ability to function.

Moving about, flexing, or massaging your leg often helps. All of these are ways of stimulating the affected muscle, thereby replacing the urge to move with an alternate sensation for the brain to focus on. Counter-stimulating your muscles in this way can be key in relieving the symptoms of RLS.

Try Using a Weighted Blanket for Restless Legs

Weighted blanket for deep sleep

Research suggests that sleeping under a weighted blanket can relieve the discomfort of RLS and the anxiety it may cause.

As the name implies, a weighted blanket, sometimes referred to as a heavy blanket, is constructed with weights inside it, usually plastic, glass, or magnetic beads, evenly distributed to give a uniform weight throughout. Many people who have slept under weighted blankets reported an increased sense of calm and security, resulting in a deeper and better sleep.

How Much Should a Weighted Blanket Weigh?

Weighted blankets range from 5 to 30 pounds and usually come in standard sizes of 10, 12, 15, 17, and 20 pounds. When choosing a weighted blanket, select one that is approximately 10 percent of your body weight plus one or two pounds. If 10 percent of your body weight falls between the available sizes, move up to the next higher weight. If the blanket is for someone who’s ill or frail, opt for the next lowest weight.

Does a Weighted Blanket Work for Restless Legs?

Weighted blankets for a self care upgrade - how it works

This constant gentle pressure of a weighted blanket provides a sustained counter-stimulation that’s needed to relieve RLS sensations. It works on the same principles as Deep Touch therapy. This therapy applies evenly distributed weight over your body to stimulate pressure points and help produce hormones associated with relaxation and sleep.

The “hugging” sensation of a weighted blanket has a similar effect, triggering the release of serotonin, a calm-inducing chemical in your body. Increased serotonin levels then promote the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. At the same time, the gentle, even pressure of a weighted blanket reduces the levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone.

Are There Other Benefits of Weighted Blankets?

Weighted blankets have been used to help relieve insomnia, reduce stress, relieve pain and make breathing easier. The serotonin-producing benefit of a weighted blanket for restless legs can also help patients suffering from fibromyalgia, PTSD, and OCD. There is some evidence that weighted blankets help Alzheimer patients sleep better by reducing anxiety, calming nerves, and providing added comfort.

Are There Other Natural Remedies for RLS?

While people suffering from RLS have found relief using home remedies, they are mostly anecdotal and not scientifically proven. However, any form of relief that’s effective shouldn’t be discouraged or ruled out.

Every person’s body responds differently to various treatments for RLS. Find one that works best for you and stick with it. Below are a few natural treatment options for restless legs that have worked for others.

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant that has helped to relieve restless legs for some people. Magnesium is essential for healthy bones and muscles and is present in many foods. For example, milk contains between nine and 12 mg of Magnesium per 100 ml and may be the reason some people swear by drinking warm milk at bedtime to help them fall asleep.

If you don’t like to drink milk, you can also take Magnesium in supplement form. Iron depletion is also thought to be a possible cause of RLS, so increasing your iron intake may also help you find relief.

Heat or cold applied to the affected muscles can also be effective. Heating or cooling pads or hot or cold cloth compresses can provide relief by introducing counter-stimulation to replace the feelings of RLS.

While some foods may help counteract RLS symptoms, there may be others that trigger them. Many sources suggest that you should cut back on caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, and avoid heavily salted or sugary foods before bed.

You can also try yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation techniques to create a sleep-friendly environment and put you in a relaxed state.

“Weighing” The Benefits

Given there is no official, proven treatment for RLS as yet, using a weighted blanket for restless legs seems definitely worth a try; and if you suffer from RLS, you are likely willing to try anything! Weighted blankets can be a drug-free, portable, affordable way to reduce stress, increase calm, and bring a more restful sleep for all.

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Benefits of Weighted Blanket Use

Sleep and relaxation are vital to promoting better mental health and a feeling of better overall well-being. When you own a blanket that helps reduce stress at the end of a long day, it can increase your long-term happiness. Weighted blankets are more popular than ever today because of their numerous health benefits. With deep pressure stimulation, weighted blankets are a reliable solution to better sleep, reduced stress, and pain reduction.

Background on Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets resemble a regular blanket, but the inside consists of pellets or beads to make them heavier. The typical weight is between 3-25 pounds. The idea behind a weighted blanket is that the deep pressure from lying underneath will provide a calming effect on the body.

Weighted blankets initially helped children with severe autism, anxiety, and PTSD. But society gradually realized the need for weighted blankets to help promote better sleep, reduce anxiety, and ease pain. Companies now market these products because of the many weighted blanket benefits they provide.

Deep Pressure Stimulation and Its Benefits

So, what is deep pressure stimulation, and how does it tie into weighted blanket benefits? Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) is a gentle but firm squeeze, hug, or hold that relaxes your nervous system. This pressure typically applies its therapeutic effects through hands or various message tools. Products like a weighted blanket deliver deep pressure stimulation because of its weight and texture.

If DPS does its job correctly, it will trigger a chain reaction throughout the body that releases a feeling of peace and calm. When the weighted blanket applies DPS, your body will switch from utilizing its sympathetic nervous system to its parasympathetic nervous system. So, what is the difference between these two nervous systems?

  • Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is your high alert system, which runs during stressful situations like work, heavy traffic, or various traumatic events.
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) is this system that delivers calmness and peace to your body and mind. Your heart rate will slow down, your circulation improves, and your muscles relax.

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is your high alert system, which runs during stressful situations like work, heavy traffic, or various traumatic events.
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) is this system that delivers calmness and peace to your body and mind. Your heart rate will slow down, your circulation improves, and your muscles relax.

  • Improved focus
  • Enhanced communicativeness
  • Better social interactions
  • Increased level of happiness
  • Less likelihood of self-injury
  • Sense of calmness that sticks around for hours after therapy
  • Less hypersensitivity to touching

What are the benefits of weighted blankets?

Weighted blankets feel amazing while you use them. But there are many long-term weighted blanket benefits that you experience as you continue to share them. Below are the most common benefits that people enjoy after investing in a weighted blanket.

Weighted Blankets Help with Insomnia

Many people buy weighted blankets for insomnia relief and better sleep

 Photo by Megan te Boekhorst on Unsplash

More and more people who experience insomnia are looking toward weighted blankets. The extra weight from the pellets or balls inside will provide a hug, which creates a new level of comfort and deep pressure stimulation. Not only is there a personal preference for using a weighted blanket, but it also provides positive chemical reactions in the body.

People with Insomnia experience weighted blanket insomnia benefits because of the critical Parasympathetic Nervous System activation. When you sleep under a weighted blanket, a fantastic chemical reaction occurs. As your nervous system switches over, serotonin and dopamine release, which are the “feel-good” brain neurotransmitters.

When the body releases these hormones, you experience improved impulse control, motivation, social behavior, memory, attention, digestion, and sleep. As your body releases more serotonin, it helps you shut down and calm down before bedtime. Many people who experience insomnia can read or relax in bed with the weighted blanket, which sends them into a smooth sleep when it is time to close their eyes.

According to a 2015 study by the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders, weighted blankets enabled insomnia to sleep better because of its calming effects. The study tracked the sleep of chronic insomnia sufferers for one week with their regular bedding, two weeks with a weighted blanket, and then one week with standard bedding again.

80% of the participants preferred the weighted blanket because they spent less time awake during the night with the weighted blanket. The people who used the weighted blanket also explained that it was easier to settle into sleep with the weighted blanket. This group also highlighted a much more refreshing feeling when they woke up the next morning.

Weighted Blankets Reduce Anxiety​

Stress relief is a benefit of weighted blankets

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

The weighted blanket anxiety benefits extend to both children and adults. Weighted blankets push the body downwards through a “grounding” or “earthing” process, which produces calming effects to reduce stress. The blanket’s weight implements the deep pressure touch, which utilized the firm pressure to address high anxiety levels and chronic stress.

Studies confirm that the grounding process decreases your nighttime cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that your brain produces when it thinks you are under attack. If you experience this at nighttime consistently, it has long-term detrimental effects on your immune system. When a weighted blanket provides it touch, it creates relaxation and disrupts this harmful cycle.

Weighted Blankets Ease Pain

Weighted blankets pay a pivotal role in reducing your reliance on painkillers. The gravity blanket effect applies a firm, but gentle pressure on your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The blanket “hugs” the various tender points on the body. Elevated cortisol levels not only cause mental stress, but they also induce pain on your muscles. The weighted blanket pressure will help break this cycle.

The Blanket Wrap-Up

Weighted blanket sleep benefits help address insomnia issues because of the improved serotonin and dopamine regulation. The grounding effect of weighted blankets helps reduce stress and anxiety, which promotes a smoother “calm down” experience before bed. And the deep pressure of weighted blankets delivers comfort when you feel pain or tenderness throughout the body.

Weighted blankets are much more than spending money on another blanket. You invest in long-term mental health, better sleep, and reduced stress because of the numerous weighted blanket benefits. You could change your life with your decision to experience a weighted blanket.

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Infographic - Benefits of weighted blankets - deeper sleep for insomnia, reduce stress and anxiety, reduce chronic pain without painkillers