Did you ever get that feeling of calmness and peace when you're under a heavy blanket on your bed or while heavy rain is falling outside? It has the same sense as to a deep touch pressure activity which relaxes your mind, increases your happiness, and brings significant benefits to your nervous system.
There is a series of ways in which you or your loved one can experience that calming sensation always whenever you need it. Most especially when stress levels are at their peak during the day or affect how they feel and think on a day-to-day basis.
What is Deep Touch Pressure (DTP)?
Deep touch pressure is a form of firm but gentle squeezing, holding, stroking, and hugging, which enables the nervous system to be calm. This form of therapy can be achieved either with massage tools, hands, a weighted piece of clothing to wear, or a blanket that would provide pressure even while at rest.
If done correctly, it will cause the release of serotonin and dopamine chemicals that are known to be the ones bringing the feeling of happiness and the motivational behavior which will then lead to bringing calmness into the nervous system.
Because of its calming benefits, deep touch pressure can help individuals with developmental disabilities, dementia, and high levels of anxiety disorders, stress, depression, restlessness, and sometimes abnormal piques of arousal.
Deep touch pressure helps these people to be calm and improving their capability to get by with their stress, anxiety, and depression to give them a fighting chance to control their lives and live a better experience in life.
For children or adults who have sensory seeking tendencies and behaviors, they tend to crave more sensory stimulation and are considered as hyperactive which leaves them to be disorganized with their space and bodies and detached from the environment. Such behavior can be managed with deep touch pressure therapy with a weighted blanket to give them the sensory input they require to function.
Here are some tendencies a sensory seeker might do:
- Make loud and heavy steps when they walk
- They don't acknowledge personal space and are often seen standing too close when making conversation.
- They have no sort of control with their strength
- They impulsively chew on things
- They have a high pain tolerance to the point of it being unrealistic
- They often touch people and things
What is Deep Pressure Therapy Used For?
Deep touch pressure therapy helps people of all ages cope up with different conditions. DTP therapy mostly helps with the self-regulation of patients who suffer from disorders such as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and many others. This form of therapy can also benefit those addicted to sleeping pills and sufferers of insomnia.
When a patient undergoes deep pressure therapy, they refine a lot of things in their body and mind such as improving their body appreciation, social interactions, sleep quality, attention span, perception to body synergy, and proprioceptive processing. This therapy also helped them reduce their risk of anxiety or depression.
There's been a lot of feedback regarding this form of therapy. When a child isn't that much hypersensitive to touch and no longer responds with hand hugs, it may mean that their sleep quality has improved due to the use of weighted blankets.
Even though not all patients respond the same way as other people might since there are some cases where the therapy will have to last longer or shorter than others. Some may not even have little to no improvement at all. That's why it's still important to remember to continually check your child's responses to the therapy by keeping a diary and monitoring their behavioral progress.
How the Body Responds to Deep Touch Pressure
Even without noticing it, you may have already experienced the benefit of what deep touch pressure can give you. Just by being hugged by your partner or curling under a heavy blanket and your whole body starts to feel relaxed, you're already there. When your heart rate calms down, you begin to get drowsy in the right way.
This effect means the pressure stimulation is already taking effect and is now positively affecting both your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, which works in both ways.
The parasympathetic nervous system balances the body's functions while at rest, such as slowing down your heart rate and digesting food. While the sympathetic nervous system responds when the body is active, it's primary functions are activating the natural fight or flight response of the body, speeds up heart rate, and intensity your stress hormones.
Benefits of Deep Touch Pressure Therapy
Keep in mind that individuals may not experience or achieve the same type of reactions and results in DTP therapy. There are better ways to expand your options by exploring other forms of ways to make the expected results.
Here are some examples of the positive results deep pressure therapy can conduct:
- Better focus on surroundings
- An improved sense of calm
- Increase the level of happiness
- More communicative and social
- Experiences better sleep
- Less probability of seizure attacks
- Able to tolerate stressful environments such as school and the workplace
- Decrease chances of self-injury
- Decreased levels of anxiety and depression.
What Is A Weighted Blanket & How Does It Work
To best describe what a weighted blanket is, imagine a regular down-filled comforter. Now picture that comforter with box-like compartments where each contains weighted material properties similar to how feathers work for down comforters.
These box compartments act as a container that evenly distributes the weighted material throughout the night when draped over the body. These fabric shells will hold the elements to adjust accordingly to different sleeping positions and the like.
Most weighted blankets available on the market can be washed just like your regular every day down comforter. But it's recommended that you should clean the outer layer regularly while the inner layer should only be cleaned on special occasions. Fabric types, textures, and colors also need to be taken into consideration when washing.
Deep Touch Pressure Protocol For Weighted Blankets
For weighted blankets being used to help people suffering from different conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, autism, and many others, it can also be used to apply deep touch pressures in many different ways that are comfortable for the users.
Whether you use it during the night as a comforter or perhaps during day time as a throw, the blanket will still give off the same comforting effect as there is no right or wrong way to use it. It will depend on the user's preferences on how to use the blankets that would best suit their needs.
How To Pick The Right Weight For Your Deep Pressure Therapy Blanket
Weighted blankets come in different sizes, weight, and sometimes, materials, to compromise for your body weight and personal blanket preferences. When choosing the right weighted blanket, take the 10% of your total body weight and add one or two pounds to it depending on how heavy you want it to be.
Let's say you weigh 200 lbs, so 10% of your body weight is 20lbs, and you add one or two pounds extra weight. So all in all, your weighted blanket would be 22lbs.
How To Pick A Weighted Blanket for Adults?
Weighted blankets usually vary from the type of fabric and the type of material that was used to put some weight on the blanket. But all in all, it will depend on your personal preference and if it will provide the right type of comfort on the climate you have right now. It's essential to keep in mind that these blankets are usually made out of soft cotton or mink dotted fabrics.
Depending on whether you have sensory issues or insomnia and anxiety, always consider which fabric can help you get that much needed calming sleep you've been wanting. So before purchasing, check the blanket's customer reviews and see if it did live up to its promises.
Another thing to look at is the weight of the blanket. Are they using safe and non-toxic materials? And is the weight evenly distributed in the blanket's whole surface?
Companies that manufacture weighted blankets usually use safe materials to put on weight on the blanket. With Rocabi, they use non-toxic materials made out of glass beads to apply the right amount of pressure on the user's body.
Whether you're a light or heavy sleeper, you tend to move around and change positions as you sleep. So when you use weighted blankets, you would want to make sure that the same amount of mass and pressure remains to whatever sleeping position you're currently in. That's why with weighted blankets, pockets to hold the beads in place are stitched to distribute the weight in whatever hours of the night evenly.
The last thing to remember when sourcing for a weighted blanket is its care instructions. Is the machine safe? Or should it only be dry cleaned? Or probably hand washed? The point here is that you would want your blanket to last for a long time, and of course, checking the blanket's description should be a priority as well.
Deep Pressure Calming Activities & Techniques You Can Do
There are other deep touch pressure technique and products that you can use if you want another alternative to weighted pressure blankets. Though their prices may vary, having a more comprehensive range of options will bring you the convenience of portability, if let's say, you're traveling.
One product that's great, but kind of on the pricey side is a therapeutic squeeze machine, which performs touch pressure by compressing the person with foam pads or rollers. Another product you can use for deep pressure calming are weighted blankets, compression clothing, weighted vests, lap weights, neck wraps, and many others. They are more on the affordable, portable, and versatile side.
The ever famous weighted blankets for both children and adults is a perfect example for a versatile and portable blanket that's within reach of many consumer's budgets for deep touch pressure while keeping you warm and snuggly at the same time.
Snug vests offer evenly distributed pressure in the torso region. It is easily adjustable so the user could modify the pressure and tightness they need at any given time. This can be used by both children and adults. The snug vest is a perfect example of a specially designed product for deep touch pressure deposit.
Because deep pressure activities can bring calming and mind organizing effects, licensed occupational therapists often incorporate deep pressure activities in their sessions with patients. These DTP activities include deep body vibration, rolling a therapy ball into specific body parts, rolling the patient in a blanket firmly creating a burrito-like outcome, imitating bear hugs, compressing joints, being under sofa cushions, sandwiching the patient between two pillows, using weighted blankets and vests.
Summed Up Wisdom
Deep touch pressure has brought many benefits to people with constant everyday struggles of depression, anxiety, insomnia, even as far as conditions like ADHD, SPD, ASD, PTSD, and sleeping pill addiction. With this form of therapy, these specific individuals can cope up with their day to day lives and gain more control over it.
Occupational therapists use specific kinds of techniques and activities for their patients. Sometimes they recommend weighted blankets and snug vests to create that feeling as if someone is hugging you especially to patients with sensory seeking behaviors and insomnia.
Just remember that if you ever decide to get your weighted blanket, you first measure 10% of your total body weight and add one or two pounds, depending on how heavy and cozy you want it to be.
Deep touch pressure has helped people in several circumstances, such as getting to sleep faster and preventing meltdowns or tantrums. They may either see observable rewards within a few minutes or hours after the session, and some might even take days or weeks. That's why it's essential to keep in mind that responsiveness to the treatment varies per patient because each one responds differently.