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A New Kind of Gravity?

The "Gravity Blanket" launched on Kickstarter last Wednesday (April 26th, 2017). In the first 24 hours, the blanket that promises to "relax the nervous system" and "decrease stress and anxiety" made almost 300k in funding, and the project has skyrocketed since then. It's just a week later, and the Gravity Blanket is rushing towards $2 million (at the time of writing, the campaign is at 1.7 million).

And it's getting coverage everywhere. From Martha Stewart to Business Insider to Mashable to Bustle (and on, and on). So, what's the story with Gravity?

The Gravity Blanket was created by entrepreneur John Fiorentino, who states that he decided to make the product after realizing that weighted blankets, which are commonly used in the medical community to help alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety and assist people with autism, could also provide benefits to society at large.

In an Interview with Futurism, Fiorentino stated that his main goal is to assist individuals suffering from stress or anxiety and to help people to start to feel relief:

All the research I uncovered showed that these blankets are tremendously effective when it comes to helping with PTSD and other severe anxiety disorders; however, most people hadn't ever heard of weighted blankets, and it's hard to get them outside of the medical community. Also, they are extremely expensive. So what I am trying to do is bring weighted blankets, which are highly effective in treating sleep and stress disorders, to all people by making them high quality and affordable.

According to the Gravity Blanket's Kickstarter page, the weighted blanket is engineered to be about 10 percent of your body weight. The weight is distributed in key locations throughout the blanket to activate pressure points in the body, which increases serotonin and melatonin levels and decreases cortisol levels, thereby, "improving your mood and promoting restful sleep at the same time. All without ever filling a prescription."

So, What Does Science Have to Say?

To begin with, what Fiorentino is talking about is called "proprioceptive input," also known as "deep touch pressure stimulation" (DTP). Early research into proprioceptive input shows that DTP does produce a calming influence—one that could help with stress and anxiety (or related conditions).

Kim Barthel, an occupational therapist and neurobiologist, asserts that DTP works by altering cortisol levels and serotonin production, decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure as a result. The Mayo Clinic clarifies, "as adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities" for but people with stress or anxiety disorders "the long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes."

When these levels are off kilter, it puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, such as depression, headaches, digestive problems, and other issues associated with improper chemical regulation. To that end, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of weighted blankets, and subsequent DTP activation, is found in both clinical use and peer review research.

"Proprioceptive input is good for pretty much everyone and anyone."

In an interview with Futurism, Amber Martin, an occupational therapist with a M.S. degree from Utica College, noted that deep pressure stimulation is one of the most effective methods of assisting individuals in her therapy sessions, adding that deep pressure stimulation isn’t useful in just therapy sessions. As Martin notes, "proprioceptive input is good for pretty much everyone and anyone. It can be very calming and organizing."

So scientists have reached some interesting conclusions about the positive benefits that weighted blankets provide, and it seems that the Gravity Blanket could help you realize these benefits. You can learn more about the science behind proprioceptive input, and select a blanket, here.

As a final thought, it is important to keep in mind that the one unifying symptom of all anxiety disorders, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is that persistent feeling of excessive fear or worry in non-threatening situations. This makes restful sleep exceedingly difficult and exacerbates the issue. By reducing stress and anxiety and allowing you to get a better night's sleep, or even just a few moments of rest in an otherwise busy day, the Gravity Blanket can help.

Futurism has partnered with Gravity Products LLC to bring you this exclusive product.

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