Understanding the benefits of weighted blankets is the first step to determining if you need to make the investment. The concept of adding weight to a blanket originated in the mental health industry as professionals realized that distributing weight across the body had a calming or soothing effect on many patients in a state of emotional distress.
Parents and professionals working with autistic children caught onto this trend, and many caretakers started adding seeds, beans, rocks and other items to homemade blankets. Many of these materials are problematic and limited the lifespan of each blanket, which is why professionally made blankets are now designed with glass beads and other objects that are safer and longer lasting.
Today, the benefits of these blankets extend beyond the mental health and autistic communities. Let’s explore some of the biggest advantages so that you can determine whether you need one or not.
One small study that included 32 adults resting under 30-pound blankets while lying down found that more than 60 percent of participants felt less anxiety while under the blanket. More than 70 percent of participants experienced a calming effect, which agrees with many anecdotal accounts from people around the world who also use weighted blankets to calm anxiety.
These blankets offer a form of touch-pressure therapy that you can apply for yourself at home or even while traveling away from home. One scientific study found that college students suffering from anxiety perceived a greater sense of relaxation while under a weighted device even if there were no internal signs of deeper relaxation.
It is also believed that these blankets increase serotonin levels, which is also a well-known benefit of massage and other forms of touch therapy. Serotonin is the “feel good” hormone that soothes the body, lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety.
Heavy blankets are commonly used by people with chronic or occasional insomnia because of the relaxing impact of touch therapy. Even if you don’t suffer from anxiety, you may use this type of blanket to help you fall asleep and stay asleep all night. This applies at home if you suffer from insomnia, or you might take the blanket while traveling to help you sleep while in hotel rooms or other away-from-home environments.
Research has shown that many people are able to sleep deeper and for longer periods of time when a weighted blanket is used. One study measured for sleep quality through internal measures and found that participants were less active while using the blanket. The participants reported in sleep diaries that they were able to fall asleep faster and stayed asleep for longer periods of time while using the blanket. They also believed that their quality of sleep improved with the blanket.
There are many studies surfacing that prove the application of gentle pressure can help kids with ADHD sit still and focus for longer periods of time. One study found that weighted vests allowed children to sit still longer while improving their productivity on educational tasks. Weighted blankets can have the same impact although they are worn in a different manner.
This can benefit adults as well as children of all ages, and you can use a blanket instead of or in addition to a weighted vest. Sitting with the blanket on your lap or wrapping it around your shoulders may help you relax and focus while doing homework, reading a book or working from home.
If the benefits of weighted blankets suggest that you or someone you love could benefit from having one on hand, it’s time to start shopping. There are a lot of colors and patterns available, but there are some features that are even more important:
If you find weighted blankets soothing, consider keeping them around the house for maximum enjoyment. When used for mental health or medical benefits, it’s common for users to keep one on the bed, one in a vehicle and one on the couch or wherever the person enjoys cuddling up to watch TV or read.