Category: gravity blanket

Scientists Have Found the Gene That Governs an Organism’s Waking Life

Futurism only supports products that we use and love. The Gravity Blanket is one of those products. A subsidiary of Futurism launched this product and Futurism collects a share of the sales from the items featured on this page.

The Biology of Sleep Cycles

The day-night cycle is an inescapable part of living on planet Earth, so it wasn’t too surprising when scientists discovered that organisms (including humans) have an internal body clock that follows this same day-night rhythm; however, when we look at ostensibly drab or banal subjects like the rhythms that govern wakefulness and sleep, the “why” and the “how” transform the quotidian and banal into fascinating challenges requiring the most creative minds in the world.

This is exactly what happened to three American biologists, Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young. Last week, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for discovering the master genes that govern a creature’s waking life and, ultimately, solving the mystery of the body’s circadian rhythms.

Scientists who lived during the 18th century, like the Frenchman Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan, saw the first hints of the body’s internal clock when plants that were kept at a constant temperature in a dark cupboard retained their daily rhythm, opening and closing their leaves at regular intervals. Strangely, de Mairan believed this was because plants can “sense the Sun without ever seeing it.”

Of course, this wasn’t actually the cause, and we can prove that now, thanks to the work of the latest Nobel winning scientists.

Sleep is in the Genes

For their work, the three American biologists above isolated the gene in fruit flies that determines the rhythm of a living organism’s waking life. In so doing, as the Nobel prize committee noted in their press release, the scientists peered into the machinery that “explains how plants, animals, and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions.”

To break this down a bit, the active “period” gene encodes a protein inside the cell overnight. This protein later degrades during the daytime hours. This process goes on, and on, and on, governing the rhythm of when we are awake and when we are not.

In the human brain, this gene exists in a tiny part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. It’s linked to the retina in the eye and, farther back, it connects to the brain’s pineal gland, which secretes the sleep hormone melatonin.

Prof Robash, a 73-year-old faculty member of Brandeis University of Waltham in Massachusetts, noted that, when he published his study in the 1980s, he never had any “grandiose thoughts” about the significance of the discovery. But since then, it has become a major topic in scientific circles and the significance well understood.

Robash explains the gravity of the discovery, noting that, ultimately, this process is a fundamental component of our biology and has a significant impact on how organisms function on the cellular level: “It’s [now] pretty clear that it has its fingers in all kinds of basic processes by influencing an enormous fraction of the genome.”

American Insomniacs

So what does this mean for you? How does it impact your day-to-day life? Well, for starters, it allows scientists to better understand the biology of sleep. This, in turn, helps us understand how to achieve optimum conditions for rest. And one of the things that we know now is the role that deep touch has when it comes to sleep.

But to back up a bit, in 2014, 30 to 35 percent of Americans had brief symptoms of insomnia, this is caused by a myriad of factors and the symptoms usually last no more than three months. However, a full 10 percent of the American population suffers from chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times weekly for at least three months.

Obviously, insomnia can affect productivity at work or undermine job advancement. In the U.S. alone, about $63 billion in lost work is attributed to insomnia-related work performance each year. It can prevent you from performing at your best in school. It could also exacerbate background depression, cause anxiety attacks, and even cause death.

Image credit: hernanpba
Image credit: hernanpba

Earlier this year, The Center for Sleep Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reported that up to 70 million Americans suffer sleep disorders, which adds a maddening $15.9 billion to the national healthcare bill. So what’s a sleepless insomniac to do?

Perscriptions are one option, but they can have high reoccurring costs and may not be suitable for all individuals. Moreover, as a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders notes, “drugs are often addictive or have side effects, and psychological/behavioral methods require long treatment sessions and it may take time to achieve satisfactory results….Hence there is a need for additional, simpler methods to promote and maintain better sleep.”

And it turns out there are simpler solutions to sleepless nights on top of us (nearly) every night. This is where deep touch comes in. Blankets actually affect how you sleep, and weighted blankets have proven to be exceptionally effective at helping you keep your eyes shut.

Weighted blankets spread an even amount of pressure across the entire body while you’re asleep. Pellets inside the blanket give it roughly 10 percent of the user’s body weight, and gravity forces contours to form around the shape of the sleeper’s body. The pressure is a kind of deep touch therapy. This increases serotonin levels, which then creates melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep. This is similar to the way swaddling a baby helps them sleep.

Gravity Blanket, made by Gravity Products LLC, is specifically designed to do all of this. With a tried-and-tested gravity blanket, your body can heal and repair heart and blood vessels, battle illness, and regulate hormone levels.

Head here to check out the science behind the gravity blanket’s proprioceptive input and select a blanket of your very own.

The post Scientists Have Found the Gene That Governs an Organism’s Waking Life appeared first on Futurism.

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future

Futurism only supports products that we use and love. The Gravity Blanket is one of those products.  A subsidiary of Futurism launched this product and Futurism collects a share of the sales from the items featured on this page.

Stressed Out

Every year, the world around us moves a little faster, and it’s easy to stumble and get stressed out as we try to catch up with it. Almost every fifth person in the United States has an anxiety disorder, costing the country more than $42 billion a year. Nearly half of those who suffer from depression are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder as well.

While sufferers would be wise to reach out to professionals for help, they can also take certain measures on their own to improve their everyday lives. The following tools may not be as effective as consulting a professional, but they could certainly lead to a less anxious and stress-free life in the future.

Virtual Reality

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

Virtual reality (VR) isn’t just for gamers — it can be used as a tool to reduce anxiety and curb the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well.

By transporting the user to another time and place inside a virtual 3D-rendered environment, researchers are trying to send PTSD sufferers mentally back to the scenes that first triggered their anxieties and fears. In other clinical trials, virtual reality technology is being used to recreate a setting with a private therapist sitting across from the patient.

The Berkeley Well-Being Institute is trialing its own anxiety-reducing VR method by relaxing the patient through “virtual wellness,” a suite of apps that range from deep-breathing exercises to star flight simulations.

Headspace

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: Headspace

Meditation has been a common practice for thousands of years. Its history is intricately bound to religious practices, but secular forms have become increasingly popular as a way to relax and reduce anxiety.

The popular app Headspace has been developing its own technique through the science of mindfulness. According to their website, “a number of studies […] have initially found that online mindfulness training does produce results similar to in-person training.”

Not only can app-based mindful meditation reduce anxiety, it can sharpen your concentration at work and help you sleep better.

The Gravity Blanket

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: Gravity Blanket

The idea of a weighted blanket aiding in reducing stress and anxiety is a proven concept. Weighted blankets such as the Gravity Blanket have been shown to increase serotonin and melatonin levels, helping users relax and sleep.

The Gravity Blanket is made of high-grade microfiber on the outside for an exceptionally soft feel and maximized comfort. Users will never miss a minute of sleep again.

Muse Headband

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: Muse

Rather than reaping the benefits of meditation through an interactive app on a smartphone, a company called Muse is trying to help sufferers reduce anxiety with the aid of a sensing headband. The Muse headband uses EEG-neurofeedback sensors to guide a wearer step-by-step through customized meditation programs.

emWave2

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: HearthMath

HeartMath’s emWave2 promises increased athletic performance and a reduction of stress by providing users with real-time heart rhythm feedback. The idea is to be able to act upon this information immediately, thereby “balancing your mind, body, and emotions.”

Thync

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: Thync

The Thync wearable is designed to help users overcome negative thoughts and anxiety with daily sessions that last for 10 minutes.

According to their website, the Thync uses low levels of electrostimulation to “activate specific nerve pathways on the head and neck.” The science behind the technology has been developed by a team of neuroscientists from MIT, Harvard and Stanford over the last five years.

Sensory Deprivation

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Imagine yourself inside a completely dark pod, floating in a pool of high salt content water. Feeling relaxed yet?

The so-called sensory deprivation tank treatment is burgeoning into a cult phenomenon of sorts, and the idea behind it is simple: spend 45 to 90 minutes inside the tank without any external stimuli.

The treatment is said to reduce stress and anxiety, enabling you to forget the hardships of everyday life — assuming you aren’t claustrophobic, that is.

Cryotherapy

This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future
Image Credit: Thrive Drip Spa

Cryotherapy — spending about three minutes in a -151.1 degree Celsius (-240 degree Fahrenheit) chamber — is no longer reserved for top-level athletes. It’s supposed to help burn calories and leave you in a relaxed state, figuratively freeze-burning the stress away.

There are a number of first-person accounts and small-scale clinical trials of cryotherapy aiding in anxiety reduction and treating depression, but the practice has yet to become widespread.

The post This Is How We Will Reduce Anxiety In The Future appeared first on Futurism.

This Is the Science Behind One of Kickstarter’s Most Popular Projects

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.

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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 partnered with Gravity Products LLC on this product.

The post This Is the Science Behind One of Kickstarter’s Most Popular Projects appeared first on Futurism.

Here’s How You Can Use Meditation To Change Your Brain

Free of Burden

There’s little debate in the science regarding the benefits of meditation. According to research published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, meditation has been linked to reduced feelings of depression, anxiety, and physical pain.

Other studies have explored connections between meditation and improved focus, lowered blood pressure, strengthened memory, reduced fatigue, and…well, the list goes on and on.

Studies by other scientists reveal that meditation can help enhance attention and emotion regulation skills.

And this is just the beginning. As Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, notes, meditation literally transforms your brain: “We found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in five different regions…in the group that learned meditation, we found thickening in four regions. Studies by other scientists have shown that meditation can help enhance attention and emotion regulation skills.”

But there’s a problem. At its core, meditation sounds like the easiest thing in the world: Clear your mind and think about nothing at all. However, meditating can be far more difficult than simply breathing in and out for a few minutes. Reaching a meditative state actually takes a lot of work, and truly clearing your mind is far from easy.

However, scientists assert that using proprioceptive input (also know as deep touch pressure (DTP)) to ground your body is helpful when attempting to reach a meditative state. Research has shown that this kind of pressure results in a reduction in cortisol levels and an increase in serotonin production, decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure.

Thus, the relaxed physical state that comes from peroprioceptive input can make it easier to achieve a calm mental state that’s conducive to meditation, and one of the most effective ways to get this proprioceptive input is by using a weighted blanket.

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Gravity: The Weighted Blanket For Sleep, Stress, and Anxiety

This 25-pound blanket is engineered to beat your stress and anxiety

Posted by Futurism on Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Good for the Mind and Body

The gravity blanket is filled with poly pellets in an evenly distributed grid pattern that is engineered to be roughly 10 percent of your body weight. This added weight allows the gravity blanket to apply specifically targeted pressure to various points throughout your body in order to reduce the aforementioned cortisol levels and increase your serotonin production.

As Amber Martin, an occupational therapist from Utica College, notes, “peroprioceptive input is good for pretty much everyone and anyone. It can be very calming and organizing.” By helping you reach a state of peaceful relaxation more quickly, Gravity Blanket makes it easier for you to take advantage of every valuable moment of meditation before you have to return to the busy world outside your mind.

Though researchers estimate that it has been around for more than 5,000 years, meditation has recently found itself the subject of intense scientific focus. Scientists have used all the tools in their arsenal, from fMRIs to EEGs, to uncover the science behind this practice and determine how productive it really is in relation to the human body.

They’ve reached some interesting conclusions about the positive benefits that it provides. Gravity Blanket can help you get there, and significantly help your mind and body as a result. You can learn more about the science behind proprioceptive input, and select a blanket, here.

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

The post Here’s How You Can Use Meditation To Change Your Brain appeared first on Futurism.

This Weighted Blanket Has Been Scientifically Proven To Reduce Your Stress and Improve Sleep

Sleeping Like a Baby

Counting sheep may work for some people, but for others, falling (and staying) asleep is a problem with seemingly no solution. The Center for Sleep Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reports that more than 10 percent of the population is affected by a sleep disorder, while the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that as many as 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems—adding a whopping $15.9 billion to the national healthcare bill.

Effective treatments for sleep disorders have proven elusive. From trying prescription medications to attending therapy to undergoing alternative treatments like hypnosis, suffers have spent innumerable waking hours in pursuit of a good night’s sleep.

However, those solutions bring with them their own problems.

“Drugs are often addictive or have side effects, and psychological/behavioral methods require long treatment sessions and it may take time to achieve satisfactory results,” according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders. “Hence, there is a need for additional, simpler methods to promote and maintain better sleep.”

That simpler method could have been right in front of sufferers — or, more accurately, right on top of them — all along. The blanket you use at night can actually affect how you sleep, and one type, in particular, has proven to be effective at helping bring on the Sandman: weighted blankets.

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Weighted blankets work by applying an even amount of pressure over a person’s body while they sleep. Pellets evenly distributed within the blanket give it a weight that is roughly 10 percent of the user’s body weight, and gravity causes the blanket to mold to the shape of their body while they sleep.

The resulting pressure acts like a form of deep touch therapy, increasing the body’s serotonin levels, which, in turn, creates melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It’s kind of the same concept behind swaddling a baby to help them sleep.

Unfortunately, society at large hasn’t had access to the benefits of deep pressure stimulation. To that end, the Gravity Blanket recently launched on Kickstarter in order to give access to all individuals.

The Science of Sleep

In a study of otherwise healthy adults complaining of chronic insomnia, researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, noted that “when the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep, with a decrease in movements. Subjectively, they believed that using the blanket provided them with a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep.”

In fact, this improved sleep can literally be the difference (in some instances) between life and death. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies have show that sleep deficiency impairs driving ability as much as, or even more than, being drunk. In fact, driver sleepiness is a factor in an estimated 100,000 car accidents annually, resulting in approximately 1,500 deaths.

Even if you never get behind the wheel, not getting enough good sleep can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. Sleep problems have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity, as well as mood swings, depression, and suicide.

Conversely, getting the right amount of good sleep can help your body heal and repair heart and blood vessels, regulate hormone levels, and battle illnesses. It also leads to improved problem solving, creativity, and memory.

With so much riding on your ability to get a good night’s rest, a Gravity Blanket could be worth its weight in gold. You can learn more about the science behind proprioceptive input, and select a blanket, here.

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

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