College is supposed to a fun and exciting time, but there's no getting around the fact that heading off to school can be stressful and overwhelming.
Add in a noisy roommate or a full schedule of credit hours, and you've got a recipe for stress and anxiety. Before you buy a bed in a bag or dorm bedding off the shelf, here’s why you should consider buying a weighted blanket.
What’s a Weighted Blanket — And Why Would I Want One For College?
So first off, let’s discuss exactly what a weighted blanket is.
The short answer is that a weighted blanket is exactly what it sounds like: a blanket with added weight! Chances are, you’ve probably heard of them — they’ve gotten popular over the last few years, and for good reason.
Weighted blankets got their start through research conducted within the autism community. Prominent autism researcher Dr. Temple Grandin found that people with autism felt calmer and more relaxed when they were gently but firmly hugged and squeezed — a type of therapy known as “deep pressure touch.”
Eventually, Dr. Grandin created a “squeeze machine” to deliver deep pressure touch and relieve stress, anxiety and other autism side effects in kids and adults.
Over time, researchers and occupational therapists realized you can get the same calming and relaxing benefits from a weighted blanket. Squeeze machines are great — and they work — but they’re also big and expensive. Weighted blankets are affordable, portable and really awesome to cuddle up with.
In fact, the cuddle factor is part of the reason weighted blankets have gone mainstream. People have discovered you don’t have to have autism or a sensory processing disorder to benefit. They began using weighted blankets for anxiety and insomnia. Now, occupational therapists know that deep pressure touch therapy works for a whole range of conditions.
In today’s busy and stressful world, most people would do just about anything to get better sleep — or just feel more relaxed.
To be blunt, while they do have medical uses, they’re really just nice to sleep under. Stressful exam coming up? Toss your weighted blanket over yourself and get studying. Stay out a bit too late? Hit snooze, grab your weighted blanket, and wait it out until you feel better. Feeling a bit homesick? You get the drift.
Does a Weighted Blanket Make a Good College Dorm Blanket?
If you’re choosing to live in a dorm, there are a few things you need to be aware of right off the bat. You’ve likely read (or heard of) a thousand different things you need to bring with you to live your best life. Likely, a blanket is on that list.
For starters, dorm rooms aren’t exactly the temperature you want them to be. While every dorm layout is different, it’s almost a universal that they tend to be too hot or too cold. In the case of the later, having a dorm blanket is pretty vital to being comfortable.
We’re not just talking about when you’re sleeping, either.
When you’re too cold or too hot, doing just about anything becomes a hassle. Trust us: it’s hard to study when your teeth are literally chattering. Likewise, if your dorm gets too hot, you’re going to be begging your RA to let you have an AC unit.
So yeah, you need a blanket — but why would you want your blanket to be a weighted blanket?
At Luna, our blankets are exceptionally breathable, which means that they’ll keep you comfortable without overheating you. Likewise, not only do they make excellent blankets, but they also come with all the therapeutic effects of a weighted blanket. That means not only will they be good at helping you keep warm, they’ll also be good at helping you stay calm.
That last bit isn’t just a good thing for you — but also your friends. When finals come along and everyone on your floor is stressed, being able to share a weighted blanket might seem silly, but it can go a long way toward not just you making it through, but your friends as well.
Wait — a Weighted Blanket Will Help My Anxiety?
A 2015 study found that deep pressure applied through a weighted blanket made people feel calmer and less anxious. Study participants also slept longer and felt more refreshed when they woke up.
A weighted blanket won’t cure your anxiety (see a professional for help with that!) but one might just help you calm down enough during stressful moments. Considering how many things you have to worry about at school, we think you can use every edge you can get.
With that said, a weighted blanket in your college dorm isn’t going to be a panacea, so here are four other things you can do to help deal with anxiety.
4 Tips for Fighting Anxiety and Insomnia at College
Before you head to school, it’s a good idea to anxiety-proof your life. While you can’t eliminate every source of stress, you can do a few things to make your college experience as relaxing as possible.
After all, college is supposed to be the best time of your life. Why not do everything you can to make your memories good ones? Here are four tips for creating a peaceful home away from home and living a healthy lifestyle at school.
Stock Up on Healthy Food
You’ve probably heard of the Freshman Fifteen. If you’re an upperclassman, you might have even experienced it firsthand. One of the main reasons people tend to gain weight in college because there's easy access to fried, fatty and fast food. When you’re crisscrossing campus all the time, it’s more convenient to grab a burger than bother with a home-cooked meal.
The problem with a diet of greasy and unhealthy food, of course, is that it can exacerbate anxiety and stress. On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to do any kind of real cooking in a dorm. A hot plate and a microwave can only get you so far.
While you probably won’t be whipping up gourmet dinners in school, there are definitely ways you can cut back on calories and the stress they bring. Whenever possible, eat food in its natural state.
For example, go for an apple rather than an apple pie. Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables and snack on carrots and low-fat dip rather than potato
chips or cookies. You can also cut a lot of calories by swapping your soda for water.
Exercise really is a key part of keeping a lid on anxiety and insomnia. It can also help you concentrate and boost your overall cognitive function. Even better, you don’t have to spend hours in a gym each day to get the benefits. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, even a daily 10-minute walk can reduce anxiety and stress.
Most colleges and universities have recreation centers that offer free or discounted memberships to students. Even if your school doesn’t, look for a park or bike trail near campus. You can even opt for walking between classes rather than taking a bus or using the stairs instead of the elevator. Small, simple changes can add up — and go a long way toward easing anxiety.
Get Enough Sleep
While you might have to pull the occasional all-nighter, it’s best to avoid doing it too often. It’s well-documented that skimping on sleep can do a number of your health and mood. Studies show that about 70 percent of college students are sleep-deprived, which puts them at a higher risk of bad grades and more car accidents.
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 25, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. It’s also important to have good “sleep hygiene,” which means sleeping in a quiet, soothing space and having normal sleep cycles (rather than interrupted and broken sleep).
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
Researchers who studied stress among college students found that a lot of college stress stems from students overextending themselves by taking on too many commitments. This can mean enrolling in a high number of credit hours or agreeing to extracurricular activities like clubs, internships or civic organizations.
If you put too much pressure on yourself, something will eventually give — and it might be your health. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, take a hard look at your schedule. Are certain commitments stressing you out? Is there a class that’s keeping you up at night? Look for ways you can eliminate potential stressors. Most of the time, it’s possible to shift your schedule around or maybe drop a class and take it next semester instead.