Are you in dire need of some rest, relaxation and recovery, but don't have the money for a vacation or spa trips? If so, welcome to the world of Sensory Integration Therapy or Deep Pressure Therapy. This form of therapy is somewhat similar to massage therapy, but you can do this at home and you don't need anyone for this. (Yes, you read that right... you don't have to beg anyone to give you a massage!)
In this article we will discuss the following parts:
- What is Sensory Integration Therapy?
- How does sensory integration therapy work?
- The different ways to apply sensory integration therapy
- Using a weighted blanket for sensory integration therapy
To be clear, sensory integration therapy means deep pressure touch or deep pressure stimulation. All these terms refer to exactly the same thing.
What is Sensory Integration Therapy?
Sensory integration therapy is basically applying firm, gentle, and consistent pressure to the body. That's all it includes. Now you may think that it is not much because it is so simple, but it really has many advantages and makes a world of difference.
According to Harvard University researchers, applying this pressure helps people with autism and sensory integration disorders. It puts them at ease and reduces their anxiety.
Of course, you don't have to have any of these conditions to enjoy deep pressure therapy. If you struggle with insomnia or are stressed from work, you will also benefit from deep pressure therapy.
While the term "deep pressure therapy" or sensory integration therapy is becoming increasingly familiar, chances are you've come across this form of therapy before.
For example, think about how your body reacts when you snuggle under a heavy blanket. You are likely to feel calmer and more relaxed. In addition, your mind calms down. That is deep pressure therapy!
How Does Sensory Integration Therapy Work?
Now that you know the basics of sensory integration therapy, let's take a closer look at the science behind it. When you apply this therapy, your body is switched from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.
We will try to explain exactly what this means in jip-and-janneke language. Your sympathetic nervous system takes over when you are in a stressful situation. When this happens, your adrenal gland triggers the release of certain hormones and your body goes into "fight or flight mode":
- Your heart rate rises
- Dilate your pupils
- Your palms get sweaty
- Muscles tense
This reaction of your body prepares you to fight or flee. The physical indicators will persist as long as the threat is still there.
Once the threat is gone, your body will go back to its "pre-arousal state" in 20 to 60 minutes.
Your parasympathetic nervous system is also referred to as your "rest and digestive system." You can think of this as a sort of "default setting" that your body is set to, assuming no threat (or perceived threat) is present.
This system does the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system and provides the following:
- Your heart rate slows down
- Blood pressure goes down
- Your breathing slows down
- Pupils constrict
So it makes sense that you want to be in fight or flight mode when there is a threat, but for people with anxiety disorders or people who are sensitive to stress, the body is often also in this mode when there is no real threat. This means that you are constantly on your guard and cannot get the rest you need.
For these people, sensory integration therapy / deep pressure therapy helps. As mentioned earlier, the deep pressure applied to your body aids the transition from your sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.
More specifically, the application of deep pressure therapy results in the production of 'feel good' neurotransmitters and hormones such as dopamine and serotonin by our body. This lowers the cortisol (stress hormone) in your body and allows your body to switch to the so-called rest and digest mode.
The different ways to apply sensory integration therapy
The most common way to apply deep pressure therapy is with a squeeze or a hug machine. These are machines that are often used by hospitals and therapists.
In case you're wondering what a squeezing machine is. This is a deep pressure machine invented in the 90's by Dr. Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin himself is on the autism spectrum. During a visit to her aunt's ranch in Arizona, she was fascinated by how cattle that were squeezed into a squeeze trough for inoculation were immediately calmed down.
Dr. Temple Grandin | source: IrishExaminer.com
After seeing this, Dr. Grandin decided to build a "squeezing machine" for humans thinking that the deep pressure would have the same effect on us humans.
Research has shown that the squeeze machine helps reduce anxiety and stress. Therapists around the world are now using this machine for patients who suffer from anxiety disorders or other similar conditions.
Unfortunately, the squeezing machine is too expensive and too large to use at home. There are other tools that are smaller and cheaper. In addition, they offer the same benefits as Dr. Temple Grandin.
Think of weighted blankets. These are blankets that are filled with some kind of filling to make them heavier. Weighted blankets have a calming effect and help to relieve stress and anxiety. This is also supported by various scientific studies.
Are you interested in a weighted blanket for sensory integration therapy / deep pressure therapy? We will now tell you all about it.
Using a weighted blanket for sensory integration therapy
There are plenty of brands on the market that offer weighted blankets, but how do you know which blankets are best to use for sensory integration therapy? You should take the following into account:
Blanket weight and size
You don't need a king size blanket -- as long as the blanket is big enough to cover you well and comfortably, it's fine. When it comes to the weight of the blankets, the rule is that it should be about 10% of your body weight. Most brands that offer weighted blankets offer them in different weights. Choose one that suits you.
Depending on the brand you choose, your weighted blanket will be made of cotton, linen, fleece, etc. It goes without saying that a cotton and linen blanket will be more breathable than other fabrics. So some fabrics will be warmer. It also applies here that you have to choose a fabric that is ideal for you.
If you don't know what type of blanket you need (and are concerned that your blanket will be too warm or not warm enough), purchase a weighted blanket that comes with a removable cover/cover (such as Gravity® blankets).
This way you can use your weighted blanket during the seasons with or without a cover / cover.
Can weighted blankets be washed in the washing machine?
Some blankets such as Gravity® can be washed in the washing machine. The maintenance for these weighted blankets is very easy. Remove the cover / cover and put the blanket in your washing machine. It's that simple. After washing, you can hang the blanket to dry.
If you buy a weighted blanket that can't be machine washed, it means you have to wash it by hand. We therefore recommend a weighted blanket that can be washed in the washing machine. This makes maintenance a lot easier.
Experience for yourself what it is like to use a weighted blanket
If you are new to the concept of Sensory Integration Therapy / Deep Pressure Therapy with Weighted Blankets, we can promise you it will change your life!
We have already received a lot of positive feedback from our customers. We are told that our blankets help to lower their stress and give them a good night's sleep.
Of course you don't have to just believe this... Why don't you try it yourself? All our Gravity® weighted blankets come with a 31 night sleep guarantee, which means you can order and try our blankets.
If you don't like it, you can return it within 31 days. You will be refunded the full purchase amount!
What are you waiting for? Order your own Gravity® blanket now!