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If you’re a restless sleeper, or have a child with autism or ADHD, you’ll know that bedtime and quality sleep can be a real challenge.
You may have tried everything from white noise machines to essential oils, but still struggle to help you child (or yourself) drift off.
Remarkably, the solution to better sleep could lie in a weighted blanket.
This study from 2015 suggests the benefits of a weighted blanket includes a ‘beneficial calming effect’ for those suffering from insomnia. However, the benefits don’t stop there.
Weighted blankets have also been shown to benefit kids with autism and ADHD, as well as adults with anxiety or conditions such as Alzheimers.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
As the name suggests, a weighted blanket is a blanket that is heavier in weight than a regular blanket. The extra weight provides pressure and sensory input for children and adults with sleeping difficulties, autism and other disorders.
Whilst they’re not recommended for babies, many children, parents and adults find weighted blankets an effective (some say miraculous!) calming aid for sleeps well as a host of other issues.
Some people say the sensation of a weighted blanket is a bit like a gentle massage. Others say it’s more like a big hug!
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
The pressure from a weighted blanket causes the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which naturally improve mood and induce a calming effect. This both helps sooth the nervous system and encourages restful sleep, without the need for synthetic drugs.
Here are 10 key benefits of a weighted blanket:
10 Key Benefits Of A Weighted Blanket
1 – Weighted blankets help kids (& adults) with anxiety or stress
Anxiety or stress can leave you, or your child, feeling physically and mentally exhausted, but still unable to asleep. Using a weighted blanket to apply gentle pressure to the body helps to naturally relax the nervous system and induce restful sleep. It’s similar to the act of swaddling a baby, where the weight and pressure provides a sense of security, safety and comfort.
In terms of the science at play here, the gentle pressure of the weighted blanket encourages the production of serotonin; a natural mood enhancer. Serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, which helps your body relax and prepare for sleep.
2 – Weighted blankets may help with sensory disorders
These conditions can make responding to sensory stimuli difficult, often with an over or under sensitivity to touch or noise. This can make it hard to calm down, putting stress on the nervous system. This in turn can lead to anxiety, fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
This is where a weighted blanket may help, as the gentle pressure it applies helps the body release the ‘happy chemical’ serotonin. As we’ve already seen, serotonin converts to melatonin, which helps aid natural sleep.
3 – Weighted blankets may help with insomnia
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, (PDF) around 1 in 3 people have at least mild insomnia.
The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket can help sooth an over active nervous system and encourage much needed sleep.
Here’s a video from Mosaic Weighted Blankets that tells you a bit more about the benefits of a weighted blanket for naturally rejuvenating sleep:
4 – Weighted blankets may help kids with ADD/ADHD
Is your child on the ADD or ADHD spectrum? Then you’ll understand only too well how hyperactivity can lead to sleep deprivation.
Using a weighted blanket can help ease the restlessness in kids with ADD and ADHD through its calming deep touch pressure stimulation.
6 – Weighted blankets may help children focus better
Today’s over stimulating, media saturated, society is often linked to the fact many children are finding it harder to focus, especially in a classroom environment.
Weighted vests have been shown to help children with attention deficit disorders focus up to 18% better (PDF). Similarly, weighted blankets have been shown to help children transition more smoothly from a high energy activity to a low energy one.
7 – Weighted blankets may aid restless leg syndrome (RLS)
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) can develop for a number of reasons, although in many cases, there’s no obvious cause. RLS causes an irresistible urge to move your legs, often combined with a tingling or crawling sensation. It’s frequently worse at night, which can lead to disturbed sleep.
RLS has been linked, in some, to reduced dopamine production and since the gentle pressure from a weighted blanket helps the brain to release neurohormones like serotonin and dopamine, applying a weighted blanket to the affected area may help.
8 – Weighted blankets may help kids with Downs Syndrome
Children born with Down Syndrome have cognitive and growth impairments, which can make learning how to fit into society, in an independent way, emotionally and physically draining.
Kids, or adults, with Downs Syndrome may benefit from the gentle, comforting stimulation of a weighted blanket, which helps calm the nervous system by encouraging the release of serotonin.
Serotonin is associated with wellbeing and also plays an important part in the body’s sleep-wake cycles.
9 – Weighted blankets may help with dental anxiety
If we’re honest, most of us don’t exactly enjoy a trip to the dentist!
But for some people, especially kids, an appointment with the dentist can be a traumatic event.
Using a weighted blanket won’t remove your fears completely, but it may help you get a more restful night’s sleep the day before the appointment.
You could even go a step further and arrange to bring the weighted blanket with you to the dentist for a much needed ‘hug’! Whilst this might seem like an extreme (or even slightly embarrassing) measure, the weight of the blanket helps your body release serotonin. Serotonin directly influences dopamine, a hormone that makes you feel good.
10 – Weighted blankets work naturally with the body
It’s estimated that up to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia; many of them relying on prescription drugs to help them sleep. Not only are sleeping pills unnatural to the body, research suggests they also fail to deliver the same restorative benefits as natural sleep.
The beauty of using a weighted blanket is that it works in tandem with the natural rhythms of the body and, for some, may even negate the need for artificial drugs at all.
Benefits Of A Weighted Blanket: Closing Thoughts
Weighted blankets don’t necessarily work for everyone.
We’re all unique individuals, after all, with our own personal needs and complex nervous systems.
However, the potential benefits of weighted blankets for a whole range of sleeping and health conditions simply can’t be ignored.
The gentle pressure from a weighted blanket is similar to deep touch pressure therapy and has a calming and relaxing effect on children and adults alike. A weighted blanket also helps the brain release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which naturally sooth the nervous system and encourage restorative sleep.
The benefits of weighted blankets also aren’t limited to the 10 benefits above – they have also helped people with a range of other conditions – from dementia and brain trauma to Fibromyalgia and OCD.
You could find that weighted blankets may be just the answer you’re looking for.