Weighted blankets are becoming increasingly popular as a way to improve sleep. But what exactly is a weighted blanket, and how does it work? This comprehensive guide will give you the facts and information you need about weighted blankets so you can see what kind of help and comfort they may offer you.
A Quick History of Weighted Blankets
To better understand what a weighted blanket is good for, it’s a good idea to know what they are and why they were developed.
What Are Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are designed to provide comfort and relaxation by applying pressure evenly throughout your body. They can weigh anywhere from 15 to 35 lbs., depending on the size and model of the blanket. The weight helps to relax your body and is thought to stimulate the production of serotonin and melatonin (the hormones that help regulate sleep).
Why Were Weighted Blankets Developed?
Weighted blankets were initially developed for people with sensory processing disorders, autism and anxiety disorders. Weighted blankets use principles based on deep touch pressure stimulation (DTPS) to help reduce stress levels and improve relaxation. DTPS is a type of therapy that provides calming sensations through gentle physical pressure on specific areas of your body, such as your shoulders, back, arms and legs. This therapy dates back to Temple Grandin, who invented the Hug Machine to help people with autism manage anxiety.
Some of the first weighted blankets appeared in the 1990s and early 2000s but were primarily focused on therapeutic use in sensory-based therapies. Occupational therapist Tina Champagne is noted to have studied their effects through use in her patients. Over the years, weighted blankets have become increasingly popular among people of all ages, as more and more research has indicated their calming effects.Find the Perfect Weighted Blanket for You
Why Do People Use Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets have become an increasingly popular and effective way of aiding people who may struggle with sleep or comfort problems. People have used weighted blankets to help manage anxiety, sleep-related disorders and autism spectrum disorders in both child and adult populations. But, sometimes, people simply desire the comforting feeling that a heavy blanket can provide.
It is important to note that weighted blankets are not intended as a substitute for medical treatment or therapy. However, for many, they can be very beneficial in helping people achieve a better night’s sleep. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common uses of weighted blankets.
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of worry or fear that can range from mild to extreme. Anxiety is typically caused by stress or fear but can also be triggered by physical or mental illness. As a result, people with anxiety often experience racing thoughts, restlessness and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases, anxiety can even lead to panic attacks. In addition, anxiety can affect sleep because it triggers a fight-or-flight response, which releases adrenaline and cortisol, making it harder to drift off.
How Do Weighted Blankets Help Anxiety?
Weighted blankets are becoming increasingly popular for helping to treat anxiety symptoms due to their ability to provide DTPS. Using gentle pressure on the body to stimulate certain nerve endings helps to reduce stress levels and improve moods — making it an ideal adjunctive therapy for some suffering from anxiety.
The added weight from the blanket stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain, which helps promote relaxation and reduce feelings of stress and tension. Additionally, weighted blankets have been found to reduce insomnia, a symptom of chronic anxiety disorders. Sleeping with a weighted blanket increases sleep quality since it mimics the feeling of being held or hugged — which is comforting for those dealing with chronic levels of stress or anxiousness.
Sleep disorders are conditions that affect the quality or duration of your sleep. Common sleep disorders include insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) and circadian rhythm disorder. These types of disorders make it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. As a result, you may feel tired during the day and may have difficulty concentrating on tasks or activities.
How Do Weighted Blankets Help Sleep Disorders?
Weighted blankets can be an excellent tool for those with sleep disorders. The gentle pressure applied to the body by a weighted blanket helps induce a calming effect similar to the sensation of being hugged or held — making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Additionally, weighted blankets are known to decrease stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can interfere with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Studies have shown that sleeping under a weighted blanket leads to an increase in melatonin levels of up to 32 percent, which helps regulate healthy sleeping patterns. As such, using a weighted blanket can be recommended as adjunctive therapy for those struggling with certain sleeping disorders.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect how people interact with and perceive the world around them. Symptoms can range from difficulty communicating and forming relationships to sensory processing issues and repetitive behaviors. ASD can also present problems in sleeping or feeling relaxed due to heightened anxiety or stress levels.
How Do Weighted Blankets Help Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Weighted blankets can be an effective alternative treatment for those with an autism spectrum disorder. A small 2017 study showed positive results in sleep quality in children with ASD who used deep touch pressure stimulation therapy, the principle behind weighted blankets. In addition, when it comes to easing stress and anxiety, weighted blankets may be used in some cases to help calm and relax those on the spectrum.
Common Misconceptions About Weighted Blankets
Despite the benefits of weighted blankets, there are still some common misconceptions about them. Let’s address the most popular ones here:
1. Weighted blankets are only for people with anxiety or sensory processing disorders.
Weighted blankets can be beneficial for anyone who struggles with anxiety or insomnia or simply wants to feel more relaxed. While they are often used as a tool to help people with anxiety or sensory processing disorders, weighted blankets can be helpful for anyone who wants to feel more relaxed and calm.
2. Weighted blankets are only for children.
While weighted blankets are often used with children, they can benefit adults. For example, a weighted blanket may be a good option if you struggle with a neurodevelopmental disorder, a sleep disorder, anxiety or simply want to feel more relaxed.
3. Weighted blankets are dangerous.
Weighted blankets are not dangerous. However, it is important to use them safely. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never use a weighted blanket on a child under the age of 2 years old. If you have any concerns about using a weighted blanket, consult your doctor before using one.
4. Weighted blankets are expensive.
Weighted blankets can range in price, but many affordable options are available. You can find weighted blankets at price points to suit many budgets. However, it is important to invest in quality because sometimes cheaper weighted blankets may not meet the specifications they claim or be made with subpar materials.
5. Weighted blankets are hot and uncomfortable.
Weighted blankets are not hot or uncomfortable. In fact, many people find them to be quite cozy and relaxing. If you live in a warm climate, you may want to choose a lighter-weight blanket so you don’t get too warm while sleeping. A cooling weighted blanket is a great option as well.Choose a Cooling Weighted Blanket for a Comfortable Sleep
6. Weighted blankets are heavy and difficult to move around in.
Weighted blankets typically weigh between five and 30 pounds. While they are heavier than traditional blankets, they are not so heavy that they will be difficult to move around in. Simply choose one that provides the right amount of weight for your body size and comfort level. If you’re unsure, check reviews and return policies to ensure you get the right blanket for you and allow you to return it if needed.
7. You will become dependent on a weighted blanket if you use one regularly.
There is no evidence that suggests using a weighted blanket will lead to dependence. However, if you enjoy how a weighted blanket makes you feel, you may want to use it regularly.
More Weighted Products for Better Living
If you love your weighted blanket, you’ll be happy to know that the benefits of weighted blankets are also available in other products. Let’s take a quick look at two popular choices.
Weighted Sleep Mask – A weighted eye mask distributes weight to pressure points on your face, specifically to areas around the eyes connected to the nervous system. It’s a great way to reduce headaches, improve circulation and get better sleep by promoting relaxation and blocking out light.
Weighted Robe – Robes generally are cozy and comfortable, but a weighted robe takes it to the next level. Weighted robes are made from fleece or terry cloth to help keep you warm and comfortable, and they come with a weight distribution system to evenly distribute the weight around your body. This helps relieve stress, reduce anxiety and keep you warm and cozy throughout the day.
Now You Know What Weighted Blankets and Other Accessories Are Good for
Weighted blankets, weighted sleep masks and weighted robes are great ways to help you get better sleep. They provide pressure that helps relax your body, reduce stress and anxiety and improve circulation for better sleep quality. With these tips in mind, you’re ready to enjoy all the benefits of using a weighted blanket.