What Are Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are heavy blankets filled with materials like plastic pellets. Usually, their weight is between 10 and 30 pounds. The results of numerous studies have shown that weighted blankets help improve sleep and ease the symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, attention deficit, and even autism.
There are two general types of weighted blankets – duvet style and knitted. Duvet weighted blankets have a heavy fill, such as glass or plastic beads, ball bearings, discs, or other heavy materials. Knitted weighted blankets feature a dense yarn, and they are made with an open-loop knit for better air circulation and breathability.
You can use a weighted blanket on your bed, couch, or anywhere else where you want to relax.
The Science of Weighted Blankets
The science behind weighted blankets is called deep touch pressure (DTP) also called deep pressure stimulation (DPS). This distributed pressure on the body can be the result of a massage, a hug, or weight on the body.
The effect of this pressure has been shown to help people calm their nervous systems by releasing serotonin – a chemical found in the body that is important for mood and keeping calm. It is also essential for sleep and focus. A lack of serotonin may contribute to anxiety disorders, ADHD and PTSD.
Here is an overview of the main benefits of weighted blankets:
Benefits of Weighted Blankets
- Better Sleep – Weighted blankets stimulates deep pressure that boosts the level of serotonin which is an important building block for your body to create melatonin. Melatonin is key to achieving a regular sleep cycle. While melatonin is a natural hormone found in the body, many people with sleep issues use melatonin supplements to aid in better sleep.
- They soothe anxiety and relieve stress. A weighted blanket is good for managing stress and anxiety. It is especially good for those who suffer from stressful thoughts and cannot sleep normally. Weighted blankets improve the quality of sleep, which contributes to mental health in general.
- They calm the nervous system. If your nervous system is too active, you can experience such symptoms as shortness of breath, hyperactivity, and rapid heart rate. A weighted blanket helps distribute an even amount of weight across the body and activates the relaxing parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you fall asleep easily.
- They manage the symptoms of autism. A weighted blanket activates the sense of touch, which is helpful for people with autism spectrum disorders because they can focus on the pressure of the blanket rather than the stimuli from their surroundings. Numerous studies have proven that children with autism using weighted blankets fall asleep easily and feel more relaxed.
- They help people with ADHD. Children with ADHD can struggle with calming themselves down and self-regulating. Weighted blankets have been helpful to some kids with ADHA to self-soothe. A study performed using weighted vests showed similar results with improved attention and less hyperactive movements.
- They enhance oxytocin. The pressure from a weighted blanket is similar to a hug, which provides a sense of security and warmth. Numerous studies have proven that a hug releases a hormone called oxytocin that creates a feeling of relaxation. In addition, this hormone also helps reduce blood pressure and helps the body relax.
- They reduce cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has a negative impact on the digestive system, immune system, and blood sugar. One of the effective and easy ways to reduce it is to use a weighted blanket.
- They help students focus. School can be very challenging, especially for students who cannot focus or live with such disorders as autism. The atmosphere in classrooms and hallways can be very distracting and overwhelming for children. For this reason, many occupational therapists recommend the use of weighted vests, pads, and blankets. Their gentle pressure helps relieve the anxiety a child may experience, improve their sleep, and, as a result, help them focus.
- They relieve painful symptoms of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a health condition that causes deliberating pain all over the body affecting mainly women. The pain caused by this condition can make even the easiest everyday activities very painful and difficult without medication. The gentle and firm pressure of weighted blankets helps prevent or reduce symptoms of this health condition, reduce anxiety and depression caused by fibromyalgia, and improve the quality of sleep.
- They promote a happier mood. If you feel depressed or irritable, you are probably experiencing a lack of mood-lifting chemicals in your brain. One of them is serotonin, which gives you that nice feeling like when you receive a warm embrace. So a weighted blanket might be the hug you need to ease sadness and lift your mood.
- They relieve travel anxiety. If you feel anxious in a confined space of an airplane or car, you are not alone. Staying in a hotel room can be difficult and stressful for many people. If you experience anxiety while traveling, a weighted blanket can help you. The pressure provided by the blanket helps the body produce the hormone serotonin mentioned above. The statistics say that over 78% of people using weighted blankets experienced their calming effect during traveling.
- They help control panic disorders. Panic attacks can be very disturbing, and they are difficult to control. However, a weighted blanket can help you feel less vulnerable. Weighted blankets help you sleep better, feel more refreshed, which is helpful for managing panic attack symptoms.
- They comfort elderly people. Older people often experience unusual sleep patterns – they may stay up later, have trouble sleeping or take naps during the daytime. Also, anxiety and depression are common among old people. A weighted blanket helps improve the quality of sleep and comforts seniors who may have trouble with sleep patterns.
Is A Weighted Blanket Safe?
This blanket is usually safe, as long as you have enough physical strength to lift the blanket off yourself when necessary in order to prevent entrapment or suffocation.
It is also recommended to talk to your doctor first before using a weighted blanket because it can be unsuitable if you have certain medical conditions, including circulatory issues, respiratory health issues, type 2 diabetes, claustrophobia, or other problems.
Also, infants and toddlers should not use weighted blankets because of the increased risk of being trapped underneath. There are weighted blankets designed specifically for kids, but it is recommended to talk to your pediatrician first.
How To Choose a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are sold in weights ranging from 10 to 30 pounds. It is recommended to buy a weighted blanket that is about 10% of your body weight.
Blankets come in a range of styles and fabrics to match your decor – you often can’t differentiate between a regular blanket and a weighted blanket until you pick it up.
If you tend to be warm when you sleep, look for a weighted blanket with cooling features like breathable materials which can help with temperature regulation. Choose fabrics such as cotton or wool for breathabilty or open-knit patterns that create more airflow and prevent heat from trapped underneath the blanket.
Prices for weighted blankets can vary and start as low as $30 and go up to $300 or more so depending on your budget and preferences, there are blankets in all price ranges.
With their many health benefits, a weighted blanket might be a cost-effective way to better sleep and overall well-being. A more restful sleep leaves you feeling refreshed and more energetic throughout the day.