A weighted blanket, also known as a gravity blanket, is one of the tools that psychiatry and therapy clinics use for their patients. And now, it has become more readily available, outside of a clinical setting, to anyone who needs help with improving their sleep or treating specific sensory issues that they may have.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are simply the heavy blankets that are weighed down with glass beads or poly pellets that are sewn into pockets throughout the fabric. To get the right weight for the blanket, it should be 10 percent of your total body weight plus an additional pound or two.
According to research published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, weighted blankets work effectively to reduce insomnia severity and reduce symptoms of depression, fatigue and anxiety.
Weighted blankets are relatively harmless when used correctly, but take caution when using the blanket on very young children.
15 Weighted Blanket Benefits
Although the weighted blanket has been around for years, it is only lately that people see its non-medicinal potential value for improving their sleep. But there is more to a weighted blanket than just helping to give you a good night's sleep.
1. Alleviates Anxiety-Induced Insomnia
Cortisol is the stress hormone produced when you are feeling stressed out, nervous, anxious, or irritated. The problem is that when you have anxiety, this can lead to many sleepless nights, leading to insomnia.
However, it may be alleviated with a weighted blanket heavy on your body as it has been found to stimulate your feel-good hormones called dopamine, hence, potentially reducing cortisol levels in your body and declining the severity of the insomnia symptom.
2. Improves Sleep Quality
Those who have sensory issues or insomnia find themselves unable to get a restful sleep. The study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders showed that the use of a heavy blanket prevented the participant from moving around, which eventually improved their sleep.
3. Promotes melatonin production
Melatonin is a type of hormone known for promoting sleep and even helping with regulating our sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm. It appears that melatonin is linked to serotonin, where, when it is triggered by the weight of a heavy weighted blanket, it also causes melatonin to be produced. So, if you wish to boost your serotonin and melatonin levels, using a weighted blanket may help.
4. Mimics a hug
We often feel good when our loved ones hug us. This very calming feeling of hugs is caused because our body releases oxytocin, which is said to be helpful in balancing out one's blood pressure, creates a feeling of relaxation, and even slows down the heart rate. This is the same feeling you get while using a weighted blanket, which helps your body go into a calm and trance-like state-of-mind.
5. Lowers anxiety levels
Anxiety disorders can have a significant impact on our lives, from interrupting our sleep to having sleep disorders, weight gain or weight loss, and even mood swings, to name a few. One of the most appealing benefits of a weighted blanket is that it may help calm the nervous system, potentially lowering anxiety levels and promoting better sleep.
6. Alleviates Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD
Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder have significantly shown signs of relief and calm while using a weighted blanket. This is because their serotonin levels go up due to the deep touch pressure coming from the weight of the poly pellets and other materials used in the filling of the blanket.
7. Alleviates Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can be triggered by a traumatic event in a person's life. It has been found that weighted blankets help alleviate some symptoms of PTSD, aggression, and even bipolar disorder. The PTSD Journal states that a weighted blanket may prove fruitful for those having PTSD, and people suffering from anxiety, stress, insomnia, and other chronic conditions.
8. Improves Behavior in Children with ADHD
According to a study, Weighted blankets have a positive impact on falling asleep, having a break-free sleep all night long, and may help people feel relaxed across the day. They are best-suited for children and adults with ADHD and/or ASD. The idea behind its frequent use is to make the user, especially kids, feel secure and safe as the weight of the blanket helps in sufficing the need of the hand.
9. Reduces Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
Those diagnosed with restless leg syndrome describe it as a crawling sense running up-and-down their legs at night which leads to an interrupted sleep. Henceforth, fatigue is a commonly observed issue amongst RLS patients. However, some RLS sufferers state that the symptoms lessen when they have something heavy pressing down against their legs, which is what a weighted blanket does.
10. Lowers Instances of Panic Attacks
Patients diagnosed with panic disorder know that an episode can occur at any time, leaving them vulnerable to the symptoms associated with this condition. Although there are medications that can help you feel calm and relaxed, some prefer treating this problem naturally. According to Penn Medicine, The pressure of weighted blankets puts your autonomic nervous system into "rest" mode, reducing anxiety symptoms, such as a quickened heart rate, palpitating heart and heavy breathing.
11. Improves Mood
There are days in our lives when we feel depressed, out of place, emotionally exhausted or low. This may be due to an illness or changing hormones, but whatever the cause may be, we often need to find a solution to this problem before it worsens. One of the weighted blanket benefits is the deep touch pressure that the blanket delivers. As stated above, this can help in improving one's mood since serotonin production is stimulated. And because of the gentle pressure on the body, your cortisol or stress levels may also go down, making you feel better overall inside-out.
12. Helps With Autism Spectrum Disorder
It is believed that weighted blankets can help those on the autism spectrum. Dr. Temple Grandin, who is also on this spectrum, developed the "squeeze machine," which was first used on cattle who get vaccinated. Dr. Grandin determined that the hugging machine provided a calming sensation to the cows.
She then applied this theory to autistic patients, proving correct. She noted that the machine helped users feel calmer and more relaxed, plus they become receptive to touch. Weighted blankets use the same concept as Dr. Grandin's machine, but in the form of heavy blankets that can be used daily.
13. Helps With Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder is best described as having a "traffic jam" in your brain. Although several signals reach the brain, they get blocked while traveling. This is one of the reasons why children and adults may experience the feeling of being overwhelmed without an apparent reason.
Sensory processing disorder can lead to meltdowns in children who cannot explain how they feel to their parents or other adults. The weight of the blanket can help people become used to the touch without feeling overwhelmed afterward.
14. Help With Chronic Pain
Chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, impacts the everyday life of its sufferers. The fatigue can be overwhelming, but it can also cause "fibro fog," GI and urinary issues, alongside, depression and insomnia that may last longer than expected.. As the weighted blankets help in increasing the serotonin levels in the brain, using one may aid in alleviating symptoms and lead to a rather restorative sleep.
15. Help Sleep Faster and Longer
Those who have insomnia or anxiety may find themselves falling asleep faster because of the weighted blanket. The weight of the blanket makes you more conscious of your movements, so you are less likely to fidget when you are in bed; resulting in a stable sleep pattern that is comparatively movement free and sound.
Who May Benefit from a Weighted Blanket?
Now that you understand the science behind weighted blankets, here's how they might help with medical conditions.
People Suffering from Insomnia
The weighting material inside the weighted blanket gives that light and stroking type of tactile sensation that feels similar to being caressed. This may help boost the production of serotonin and melatonin, which are both needed for insomnia patients to get a calming sensation while sleeping.
Children With ADHD
Another study conducted on 67 children, where half of the participants had ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), demonstrated improvements in their nighttime sleep since they were able to sleep faster and better throughout the night. citation
People With Anxiety
Stress is a common trigger for anxiety. For those who have anxiety attacks, among the symptoms that may be experienced include high blood pressure and insomnia.
Weighted blankets can reduce anxiety symptoms and help provide restorative sleep, well-being, and calming experience too.
People With PTSD
PTSD Patients often feel imminent danger even when they know that they are safe. Those with PTSD may also develop other disorders such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The deep touch pressure stimulation associated with a weighted blanket can help relax the patient’s central nervous system and help them sleep peacefully.
People With Autism Spectrum Disorder
It is observed that the use of weighted blankets can help those on the autism spectrum to reduce their anxiety levels.
People With Sensory Processing Disorder
The weight of the blanket can help people with sensory processing disorders become used to the touch without feeling overwhelmed.
People With Chronic Pain
Weighted blankets help increase the serotonin levels in the brain, which can aid in alleviate chronic pain symptoms and lead to more restorative sleep.
How Heavy Should a Weighted Blanket Be?
Now that you know what weighted blankets are and how they may help, you may ask how heavy should a weighted blanket be? Does weight play a crucial role in choosing a weighted blanket?
Well, the short answer to this is YES! However, if you are planning to buy a weighted blanket for self or family use, consider the below-mentioned things before purchasing.
Here's a helpful age-weight table to consider to ensure you invest in the right blanket according to your requirements and body type.
|Age Group||Person’s weight||Weight of the blanket|
|11 – 13||70 – 90 pounds||5 pounds|
|14 - 20||100 – 160 pounds||10 – 15 pounds|
|21+||165 – 200 pounds||20 pounds|
|21+||More than 200 pounds||25+ pounds|
NOTE: For kids under ten years, adults with health conditions (such as epilepsy, cardiac conditions, respiratory issues, circulatory disorders, sleep apnea, or other sleep issues), and elderly adults, should consult a medical physician before using weighted blankets. A weighted blanket works well for a healthy individual and might prove highly beneficial.
Weighted Blanket Benefits for Adults
There are many benefits of weighted blankets for adults, including:
- Weighted blankets can help to reduce anxiety and stress levels.
- Weighted blankets can help to improve sleep quality.
- Weighted blankets can help to ease muscle tension and pain.
- Weighted blankets can be used as a tool for relaxation and Mindfulness.
- Weighted blankets can help to boost mood and energy levels.
- Weighted blankets can help to improve concentration and focus.
- Weighted blankets can help to reduce fidgeting and restlessness.
- Weighted blankets are a safe and natural way to provide calming and comfort.
Weighted Blanket Benefits for Kids
Weighted blankets can help kids with anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Weighted blankets are safe for kids and are an excellent way to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Here are some of the top benefits of weighted blankets for kids:
- Weighted blankets can help to reduce anxiety and stress levels in kids.
- Weighted blankets can improve sleep quality by providing a sense of security and comfort.
- Weighted blankets can help to improve sensory processing in kids with autism or other sensory disorders.
- Weighted blankets are safe for kids and are an excellent way to promote relaxation.
If you are considering a weighted blanket for your child, consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it is the right option for them.
Though further research needs to be done, more and more people are turning to weighted blankets, considering its innumerous benefits. If you are also looking for a weighted blanket, it is essential to determine the reason behind the purchase, the materials, and the ideal weight to help you float into a deep slumber.