Does Sleeping With a Weighted Blanket Help Insomnia or Anxiety?
ZZzzz… Sleep is vital to vitality, and lack of quality sleep has a major impact on your health. Maybe you are looking for ways to improve your concentration, get rid of insomnia, relieve anxiety and improve your sleep? If you are, you may not have considered sleeping with a weighted blanket.
Used to offer deep pressure touch stimulation (or DPTS), weighted blankets offer several benefits. They exert pressure over the body which has physical and psychological benefits similar to massage, as described by Temple Grandin, Ph.D., “Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling. [sic] Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.”
“In psychiatric care, weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control,” according to Karen Moore, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Franconia, N.H. Traditionally, weighted blankets can be used, as part of occupational therapy, for children with sensory disorders, or experiencing anxiety, stress or other issues related to autism.
A weighted blanket shapes itself around your body just like a warm hug. The pressure helps relax the nervous system. It’s completely safe and can be an effective non-drug therapy for helping sleep and relaxation. Various hospital units, including psychiatric, trauma, geriatric, and pediatric wards, often use weighted blankets to help anxiety and promote deep, restful sleep in patients.
This has a similar effect to swaddling an infant, providing comfort and relief in the same ways. When pressure is applied gently to the body, it encourages production of serotonin, a mood lifter. Serotonin converts to melatonin and triggers your body to rest.
Weighted blankets are generally “weighted” with plastic pellets sewn into compartments in the blanket, which helps keep the weight distributed. When deep pressure touch receptors all over your body are stimulated, your body relaxes and allows you to feel grounded and safe, and, as mentioned, clinical studies suggest that when these deep pressure points are triggered, they increase serotonin production.
Weighted blankets are very effective at alleviating anxiety. According to a 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, weighted blankets offer a safe and effective therapy for anxiety in patients. This was further confirmed by a 2012 study that was published in Australasian Psychiatry, suggesting that weighted blankets successfully decrease visible signs of anxiety.
Low serotonin levels in the brain have been linked to depression, aggression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and bi-polar disorder. With weighted blankets’ effect on serotonin levels, this means people are battling with these and other issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and paranoia, can benefit and find relief from their symptoms.
Using Weighted Blankets
The weight of blanket you choose will be dependent on your size and personal preferences, but a typical weight for adults is between 15 to 30 pounds weight in the blanket. It is recommended you seek guidance from a doctor or occupational therapist if you have any medical conditions. Avoid using weighted blankets if you currently suffer from respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problems, or are recuperating post-surgery.
Getting a Blanket
There are many websites and sources to purchase a weighted blanket, in many fabrics and weights, or you could even make your own! It all depends on the sizes, materials, and your preferences. An excellent place to star is on shopping sites like Amazon since they have options from many sellers and you can use filters to narrow down your preferences. You can find the weighted blankets here.