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Gentle pressure from the weighted blanket may account for the rise in melatonin.
The weighted blanket has risen in popularity in the past few years, with manufacturers and users touting its benefits, including helping with sleep and anxiety issues. A recent study suggests a mechanism that could explain why weighted blankets seem to help some people sleep better.
The use of a weighted blanket may result in more melatonin — a sleep-promoting hormone produced by the brain — being released, the research reveals. Melatonin reduces alertness and makes sleep more inviting. During the day, light that enters the eyes sends a signal to the brain’s “master circadian clock” — a region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus — which then blocks melatonin production by the pineal gland, a pea-size organ in the brain. After the sun goes down, the suprachiasmatic nucleus releases its hold on the pineal gland, allowing melatonin to set the stage for the body to sleep. Core body temperature drops, and drowsiness ensues.