Swaddling is a must-know technique in any home that has a new infant, and it’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. You’re basically making a soft, snuggly baby burrito.
Swaddling a baby is one thing. But swaddling adults?
Actually, adult swaddling, or adult wrapping if you prefer, is actually more common than many might imagine. In fact, it relies on the same principles behind infant swaddling. In Japan, they refer to it as otonamaki and use it as a relaxation technique for grown men and women alike.
Even if you wanted to swaddle it up, how would you do it? Stick around for step-by-step instructions on how you can swaddle yourself.
The Science Behind Swaddling
At its most basic form, swaddling simply involves wrapping a baby securely in a blanket. The only thing sticking out is their cute little noggin. The rest of the body, including the little arms, legs, hands, and toes, are snuggled up tightly and warmly within.
The technique is nothing new. It has been standard practice for infant care for centuries. As strange as it may sound at first, the whole idea of swaddling is to have completely limited motion, with the exception of the head, of course. In fact, it is even a form of motor restraint.
For babies, swaddling helps restrict their movements, limiting their startle reflex, as well as mimicking the close quarters that are found within the womb.
Is Swaddling Safe?
Generally, swaddling is completely safe for infants. There is a right way to do it to avoid risks and take advantage of the swaddling benefits — it involves keeping babies on their backs and ensuring the wrapping isn’t too tight.
But, questions regarding the efficacy of swaddling for infants should ultimately be discussed with a pediatrician.
A Closer Look at Adult Swaddling
In short, swaddling makes babies feel safe and secure — that’s why it helps them sleep. The same principles and theories apply when it comes to swaddling adults, but the techniques aren’t quite the same.
In today’s adult swaddling fad, individuals are typically wrapped from head to toe with breathable fabrics. Many people swear by the benefits, the two most impressive benefits being a reduction in feelings of stress and anxiety, and better sleep.
How To Swaddle Yourself, Step-by-Step
Before attempting to swaddle yourself, it is best to have the right material on hand. The Japanese practitioners of otonamaki use mesh wraps.
But, if you’re fresh out of mesh wraps, you want some sort of other breathable fabric. The more breathable the better, because trying to swaddle with wool would be fun for exactly no one.
It may be good to have a friend on standby, too, just in case things don’t go well the first time and you need a little help out of the tangle you just got into.
We also advise you do this on a soft surface.
Ok, now we’re ready.
- Lay out your preferred sheet or blanket in a diamond shape in front of you on the floor, with one corner at your feet.
- Sit on the blankets with your feet at the lower bottom corner while the rest of the blanket is behind you.
- Pull the blanket up and tuck it in between your calves and shins, but not super tight. Lay back on the blanket with knees bent, holding a corner.
- Gently lift your left arm and sweep it straight up alongside your left ear and roll to your left side. Tuck your left arm back down and reach over with your right arm.
- Roll on the right side. Pull the blanket to your right hip, tuck it snuggly behind your back, and tuck your right arm firmly against your body.
- Now, roll slowly onto your front (it's okay if your legs straighten) and continue to roll onto your back again while the blanket comes across your full body.
- Time to rest. Deep breath in, exhale slowly, relax, and enjoy.
Why the Swaddle Works
The practice of swaddling is tied very closely to the theory behind the occupational therapy practice of Deep Pressure Therapy. There is a reason why we feel better after getting a warm hug or feel more relaxed underneath a pile of warm blankets — this is what Deep Pressure Therapy mimics.
Much of it has to do with our body’s sensory input — how we feel, see, and experience. How we take in all the sensory information is known as sensory integration.
For example, we jump a little when we hear a loud noise, squint when a bright light shines in our face, and recoil from touching a hot object. The last example is a form of tactile sensory input.
Deep Pressure Therapy’s Calming Effects
At the helm of sensory integration is our nervous system. In effect, Deep Pressure therapy (DPT) helps relax the nervous system (autonomic nervous system in particular) by applying gentle pressure, or tactile sensory input, throughout the body. In fact, it has quite a powerful effect on physiological arousal — hormone release being one.
Due to the tactile input, Deep Pressure Therapy is able to elicit the release of feel-good hormones known as endorphins. These are typically released in the body to help elicit feelings of pleasure (and reduce feelings of pain). They also help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.
This is why swaddling, wrapping, weighted blankets, and compression blankets
can induce feelings of calm and relaxation.
Stress affects sleep — DPT can help.
Stress affects sleep. In fact, feelings of stress and anxiety are some of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to restful sleep, both in quantity and quality. More stress means less sleep, less sleep means more stress, and that’s how the cycle goes.
Chronic stress can also sustain cortisol production (stress hormone), which can disrupt normal sleep patterns by driving down melatonin production (sleep hormone).
Thankfully, one of the biggest observational benefits of Deep Pressure Therapy is its ability to support good sleep. This also has to do with its effects on hormones, particularly the mood-regulating hormone serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin.
In short, Deep Pressure Therapy helps relax the nervous system.
There’s an easier way to swaddle — try the Sleep Pod.
The Sleep Pod utilizes the benefits of Deep Pressure Therapy. The Sleep Pod offers the same mind-soothing effects that come from being snuggled up like a baby burrito — but it’s much easier to get into.
Sit on the edge of the bed, step into it, pull it up, done.
Swaddling yourself like a newborn does comes with benefits, especially as it relates to feelings of calm and relaxation.
The reasons behind this revolve around the hormone-inducing effects of tactile sensory input, the principle found in Deep Pressure Therapy.
Thankfully, there is an easier way to swaddle. With its ultra-breathable and lightweight material, the Sleep Pod offers gentle pressure throughout the whole body, all night long.
Have more questions about the Sleep Pod? Check out the Sleep Pod FAQ here.