Weighted blankets, often referred to as gravity blankets, are often used in psychiatric therapy clinics to help comfort patients. Word of their benefits has spread far and wide, and now they are incredibly popular for relieving anxiety symptoms, reducing stress, improving sleep, battling depression, or treating various sensory issues.
What Is A Weighted Blanket?
Well, the name gives it away, in that it is blanket that weighs between 5-30 pounds. Filled with poly pellets, polypropylene plastic beads, and discs, weighted blankets mimic deep pressure stimulation, which is a hands-on technique that helps relax the nervous system. Deep pressure stimulation helps to stimulate serotonin and dopamine production, and these hormones help promote relaxation and improved mood.
Who Can Use A Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are harmless when they are used for teens and adults, but they should not be used on children, according to Teresa May-Benson, an occupational therapist with the nonprofit Spiral Foundation in Newton, Massachusetts. Two child deaths have resulted from improper use of weighted blankets. The blanket should not weigh more than 10% of the user’s total bodyweight.
5 Benefits Of Weighted Blankets
They Reduce Anxiety:
Anxiety disorders can have a large impact on person’s life, from interrupting sleep to having mood swings. Many therapists often recommend the use of weighted blankets for anxiety patients because the deep pressure stimulation reduces autonomic arousal, which is responsible for increased heart rate and other anxiety symptoms. One study, which involved 32 patients with anxiety, found that 33% of them experienced reduced anxiety after using a weighted blanket.
Promotes Melatonin Production:
Many people with anxiety or high stress often have trouble sleeping or irregular circadian rhythms. Melatonin is necessary for healthy sleep, and research has shown that sleeping with a weighted blanket triggers melatonin production. Additionally, deep pressure stimulation has been known to improve sleep in patients with insomnia and other sleep disorders, so use a weighted blanket if you want to boost melatonin levels for improved sleep.
Benefits People With Depression:
Weighted blankets recreate the feeling of a hug or swaddling, so the comfort of being cocooned can relax people and calm anxiousness. Statistically, babies respond better when they are frequently hugged, cuddled, rocked, and swaddled. People need that comfort and love as they age, though; it doesn’t just go away when you become an adult. The weighted blanket creates the sensation of a warm and comfortable hug, making the person feel as though they are being loved. Research indicates that a weighted blanket can stimulate serotonin production, also known as the feel good hormone. Finally, cortisol levels (the stress hormone) have been known to decrease in people who use weighted blankets.
Aids With Sensory Processing Disorder:
The cause of sensory issues is thought to be the result of a brain signal traffic jam, so to speak, and this can lead to anxiety attacks. Interestingly enough, people with anxiety have a lot in common with children who have autism. In both conditions, the individual can experience emotional or behavioral troubles, and placing a weighted blanket on the person can provide a calming effect.
Helps Improve Focus In ADHD Patients:
People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) commonly experience restlessness, impulsive actions, and lack of focus. While there have been no studies on the use of weighted blankets for ADHD patients, several studies have used weighted vests. The findings indicated that the weighted vests helped improve attention and reduced hyperactive movements. It is thought that the deep pressure stimulation from the weighted blanket can provide a soothing effect to minimize anxiety and hyperactivity, which may be attributed to the increase in serotonin and melatonin.
More research needs to be done on the benefits of weighted blankets, but initial research has shown that it benefits people with insomnia, anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, and restless leg syndrome.