5 Health Benefits of Weighted Blankets (Not Just for Kids)

Did you know there are many weighted blanket benefits from better sleep to improving your mood? This guide covers the numerous reasons why weighted blankets are growing in popularity with all ages – not just kids.

yellow, white, green, blue and pink blankets rolled up on bed

What Are Weighted Blankets?

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Sometimes referred to as gravity blankets, weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets that are weighted using plastic pellets, steel or glass beads. They usually weigh around 5-30 pounds and can offer a whole range of benefits for all ages.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

Thanks to the additional weight creating pressure, this imitates a therapeutic technique known as DPS (deep pressure stimulation). Essentially, they are hugs in blanket form as the firm yet gentle pressure helps to relax the nervous system.

An American scientist, Mary Temple Grandin first discovered the benefits of deep pressure therapy in reducing anxiety when she worked with children on the autistic spectrum. Her goal was to create a “Hug Machine” that mimicked hugs in order to apply gentle pressure but not feel restrictive.

She found in doing so, that her patients released oxytocin. The therapy then triggered a chain reaction around the body to create an overall sense of calm and peace. This is where the idea of weighted blankets came from. They too apply light pressure and boost oxytocin similar to the “Hug Machine.”

Alongside oxytocin, deep pressure therapy has been known to increase dopamine and serotonin. This boost in feel-good hormones heightens a sense of happiness and well-being.

hand ontop of white bedding

Who Can Use Weighted Blankets?

Weighted blankets have been used to aid symptoms of numerous health issues and conditions in both adults and children. This includes those on the autism spectrum, children with sensory processing issues, anxiety suffers, those will sleep issues and more.

Personally, I’ve found weighted blankets to be really helpful for my own sleep. I find I get more restful, deeper sleep. I’ve also found it to be helpful for one of my kids who was more sensory sensitive. It helped to calm him down when he was overstimulated.

Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

They are generally considered safe, as long as the user is strong enough to physically lift the blanket off without help. A weighted blanket may be unsuitable for those with certain medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, low blood pressure, and claustrophobia. While there are weighted blankets designed for children they should not be used by toddlers due to the risk of entrapment.

white blanket rolled up on mattress

5 Benefits of Weighted Blankets

The effectiveness of weighted blankets has been studied by many researchers, and although more research is needed, the studies so far have highlighted there may be benefits for many conditions. Whether stress is making you toss and turn at night, or your kids struggle to focus, the benefits of a weighted blanket could result in a calmer, happier household. Benefits of weighted blankets include:

1. May Reduce Anxiety

Weighted blankets may help with anxiety. The deep pressure of the weighted blanket helps to reduce the sympathetic arousal, or the body’s reaction to perceived danger. This is also known as the flight or fight response.

For some people, their flight or fight response is enhanced, which makes them feel anxious more often. In a study with weighted vests, participants reported reduced sympathetic arousal, even wearing the vests for short periods.

2. May Help with ADHD

There are limited studies on the benefits of weighted blankets for ADHD, but there is a study on weighted vests that showed positive results in helping those with ADHD improve attention and reduce hyperactivity. Participants had improvements in fidgeting, staying on task and stayed in their seats more.

3. May Improve Sleep and Increase Relaxation

Weighted blankets provide a sense of deep pressure to make it feel like you’re being held or hugged. This sensation can help to lower stress and improve sleep. In a study, participants showed improvements in sleep and relaxation and reduced stressed when using a weighted blanket for 6 weeks.

woman in bed under white bedding

4. Help with Insomnia

In 2015 a study from the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found that a weighted blanket helped those with insomnia sleep better, simply because it helped them feel more settled before bed.

If you have persistent sleeping issues, it is advised to speak with your doctor as they will be able to best assess your sleep pattern and determine if a weighted blanket could be an effective approach.

pink, green. blue,white and yellow blankets stacked

5. May Help with Chronic Pain

In a recent study, participants reported pain relief from using a weighted blanket after just one week. Those who used a heavier weighted blanket (15 lb) reported significantly greater reductions in pain perception compared to those who used lighter weighted blankets (5 lb), especially with those who had anxiety.

white bedding with tray, laptop and mug

Top Tips for Choosing The Right Weighted Blanket

  • Always consult your pediatrician before purchasing a weighted blanket for your child. It is not advised to let children under 2 years old use a weighted blanket.
  • If a blanket is heavier, this won’t mean it is more effective. A blanket heavier than 35 pounds is more likely to cause discomfort than relief. This is because it will feel restrictive and cause your body temperature to rise.
  • As a general guide, it is suggested to purchase a weighted blanket that is 10% of your body weight. It is best to consult your doctor beforehand to make sure you are choosing the correct size for your needs.

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Sources:

  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/weighted-blankets-benefits-5086170 
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32536366/
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/do-weighted-blankets-work
  • https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/43/Supplement_1/A460/5846888

 

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for your article on weight blankets. I grew up in South America and we had heavy thick woolen blankets to use in winter. In recent years I have given to many of my friends light down blankets. However they all ended up using them with the old woolen blankets on top which defeats the purpose of the down blankets! They all said they “missed the weight” the cozy feeling and now I understand why! Thank you.