Do Weighted Blankets Work?
By Sara Butler
You may have only recently discovered weighted blankets exist, but they aren’t anything new. Occupational therapists have been using them to help children with anxiety for many years. The idea is akin to the weighted vests that can help to calm you when you’re at the dentist’s office. The pressure of the blanket (or vest) helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body by touching on your body’s pressure points. But do these blankets really work? And if they do, who do they work for best?
What is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- a blanket made with added weight. The weight of the blanket depends on who the blanket is for. It should be about 10 percent of the person’s weight plus one or two pounds. So, for a 4-year-old child who weighs 50 pounds, you’d want to buy about a seven-pound blanket.
The Science Behind Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets were created with the science of deep touch pressure (DTP) in mind. DTP involves gently applying pressure to the body in order to increase the release of serotonin, which is the hormone that helps you to relax and get to sleep.
Children with autism as well as people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, aggression, anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder have been found to be low in serotonin. So, the idea is that weighted blankets put pressure on points of the body in order to help stimulate the release of serotonin and help to calm the body and mind so that sleep can take place easier.
The Benefits of Weighted Blankets
Aside from sleep benefits, weighted blankets have been found to help people in a few other ways. They can:
- Calm the nervous system – Weighted blankets have been found to help calm the nervous system in order to help those with anxiety and those who suffer from restlessness during the night.
- Improve focus – Sleeping better at night can help those with focus issues to concentrate. Better sleep equals better focus!
- Reduce anxiety – For people who suffer from anxiety, everyday situations can be a problem. Weighted blankets can be taken with you in the car or on a bus or plane to help inspire calm and security in situations that have been difficult in the past.
Weighted blankets are easy to find on the internet or even in some stores. Make sure you buy the appropriate weight when buying one and then see if it helps you or your child to sleep better at night!
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Albuquerque, N.M.