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Weighted blankets have been around for a few years and, even though they’ve grown in popularity, many people still aren’t quite sure what to make of them. For that matter, some question why they would want a 20-pound blanket in the first place. Believe it or not, there are a lot of benefits of owning a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets, also known as gravity blankets, have been used for years by mental health professionals as a form of pressure therapy. Today, they have gained mainstream popularity with those who believe that the pellet-filled blankets, which weigh anywhere from 5 to 30 pounds, can relieve stress, improve sleep, calm children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and aid in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
What are Weighted Blankets?
A weighted blanket is a blanket filled with small objects such as discs, beads, pellets or polypropylene plastic, to add weight that can give the user a feeling of being hugged gently. Different blankets come at different weights, ranging from 4 or 5 pounds to 25 or 30 pounds. The lighter weighted blankets are geared more for children.
Many adults associate snuggling under a comfy blanket with a sense of security, which harkens back to “security blankets” they may have had as a child. Basically, lying under a weighted blanket gives a person the sense they’re receiving a warm hug. The sense of feeling secure is the key to lowering anxiety levels, as well as other issues.
What are the Benefits of Weighted Blankets?
A 2015 study examined the effects of weighted blankets and found a 33 percent reduction in stress. Among the participants, 63 percent reported feeling a decrease in anxiety, and 78 percent said they found using a weighted blanket a preferable way to increase their level of calm.
Some studies show that the use of weighted blankets may help reduce nighttime levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can contribute to anxiety. The increase in cortisol levels make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Is a Weighted Blanket Right for Me?
While a weighted blanket is safe for a majority of people, there are some that should speak with their doctor before using one. This group includes:
- People with sleep apnea
- People with respiratory problems
- People with chronic health conditions
- Children who weigh less than 50 pounds
People who suffer from claustrophobia might become more stressed and anxious using a weighted blanket. A general rule of thumb is a weighted blanket only works if they help relax a person. On that end, a weighted blanket can help people with:
- Anxiety – The weighted blanket puts your autonomic nervous system into "rest" mode, decreasing your heart rate and breathing, which improves sleep.
- ADHD – The weighted blanket can help activate the sense of touch, reducing agitation and distraction from other senses. It might help to improve attention and decrease restlessness.
- Autism – The weighted blanket provides comfort from overstimulation, relieves stress, reduces distraction from other senses, and promotes feelings of calmness.
It all comes down to your own comfort level. Weighted blankets come in a variety of weights from five to 30 pounds. A good rule to follow is to find a blanket that is close to 10 percent of your body weight. Anything less wouldn’t be as effective and anything more might make you feel as though you’re being smothered.
There are plenty of weighted blankets on the market. If you’re interested in trying a natural approach to a calming, restful sleep, a weighted blanket just might be the answer for you.