If you or your child live with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), then you know just how challenging of a condition it can be. While ADHD symptoms vary from person to person, people with this disorder often struggle to concentrate and remember important information. This can make it monumentally more difficult to carry out critical tasks, such as completing schoolwork, paying bills on time and holding a steady job.
In recent years, a growing number of people with ADHD have been using weighted blankets as a complementary approach to their standard treatment. These therapeutic blankets are designed to apply pressure evenly across the body, which may help ADHD sufferers get the sleep they desperately need.
Curious about the benefits of weighted blankets for ADHD? In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at how wrapping yourself in a cozy weighted blanket can improve ADHD symptoms and help you live a healthier, happier life.
Why Sleep Is Important for People with ADHD
Good sleep is a critical part of everyone's health and well-being, but it's especially important for those with ADHD. According to one study, sleep disorders are common among people who have ADHD.
The most common sleep disturbances in people with ADHD are:
- Sleep-disordered breathing
- Restless leg syndrome
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorder
Sleep disorders can also exacerbate ADHD symptoms, leading to a negative cycle between ADHD and sleep that can be tricky to break. As such, it’s important to get a handle on sleep issues and find small ways to improve sleep in people with ADHD.
Related Reading: Using a Weighted Blanket for Restless Leg Syndrome
What Are Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are a popular therapy tool that occupational therapists often recommend to children and adults with ADHD. But what are weighted blankets, exactly?
Put simply, they’re heavy blankets that typically weigh anywhere from five to 30 pounds. Some weighted blankets — like our Gravity Weighted Blanket, for instance — use premium glass beads to apply soothing pressure to the body, while others — such as our chunky knit weighted blanket — are made without fillers and instead rely on multiple layers of fabric to produce their heft. This extra weight mimics a therapeutic technique called deep touch pressure stimulation, which is thought to deliver calming pressure to the body that helps the user relax and fall asleep.
How a Weighted Blanket Can Help
So, how can the calming pressure from a weighted blanket help someone struggling with ADHD? Here are a few ways that these special blankets can make living with ADHD a little easier:
- Improves Sleep – Perhaps the most obvious benefit to weighted blankets for ADHD is their ability to lull the user to sleep. Weighted blankets are designed to apply firm, controlled pressure to the body, which is thought to trigger the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and its precursor, serotonin. Together, these hormones help you get a good night’s sleep, which is key to keeping your ADHD symptoms under control.
- Relaxes the Body – The soothing pressure of a weighted blanket helps calm the parasympathetic nervous system. An overactive nervous system can lead to hyperactivity, nervousness, insomnia and an inability to relax, which are all ADHD-related issues. Therefore, it stands to reason that using a weighted blanket can potentially improve some of the most common behavioral problems associated with ADHD.
- Helps Stabilize Mood – Mood swings are fairly common in people with ADHD, especially in adults. One way weighted blankets can help is by increasing the pressure of feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin and serotonin, and decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone), which can lead to an overall improvement in mood.
- May Improve Focus – We all struggle to focus sometimes, but for people with ADHD, focusing on certain tasks can seem downright impossible. While weighted blankets are no cure-all for inattention, they can help reduce nervousness and underlying anxiety that might hamper your ability to focus on the task at hand.
What Does the Research Say?
There are few studies on the use of weighted blankets for ADHD. However, one study found that weighted blankets could improve insomnia symptoms in people with psychiatric disorders, including ADHD.
Similarly, other studies suggest that deep touch pressure — the primary mechanism behind weighted blankets — can help people with ADHD. In a 2005 study, researchers found that sensory intervention treatment — for example, deep touch pressure — significantly improved behavioral problems in children with ADHD.
Another study examined the effects that wearing a weighted vest had on ADHD symptoms. The results of the study showed a significant improvement in on-task behavioral problems displayed by children with ADHD, including inattention and hyperactive movements.
The Bottom Line
While not a cure-all for ADHD, weighted blankets can help ease some of the more common symptoms of ADHD and serve as a wonderful complement to conventional treatment. So, if you're looking for an all-natural way to combat your restlessness, late-night worries and insomnia, give our best-selling Gravity Weighted Blanket a try. It’s the only weighted blanket scientifically proven to help induce a good night’s sleep!