Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Weighted blankets are all the rage right now, but do they actually work? And if so, how?
60 million Americans suffer from insomnia, 40 million suffer from anxiety , and the two frequently rear their ugly heads together like a 2 a.m. two-headed monster.
Prolonged exposure to this can have severe mental and physical health repercussions. Studies have even shown that lack of sleep can increase your risk of death by 12%.
One drug-free alternative is a weighted blanket. If you like to sleep with a pile of blankets, you are a prime candidate for one of these. They provide a cocooning effect called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), which makes you feel safe and relaxed.
“Research has indicated that DTP intervention can increase the quality of life of patients suffering from anxiety, pain, and unrest…”
The blankets are weighted with plastic or glass pellets which put pressure on your muscles and joints. This is what gives you the Deep Touch Pressure.
A study published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry found that "the use of ball (weighted) blankets significantly reduces the number of nights that the ADHD child spends more than 30 min falling asleep from 19% to 0%."
But they’re not just for children with ADHD. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders found it to be useful for insomnia in general.
“[T]he participants liked sleeping with the blanket, found [it] easier to settle down to sleep and reported a much better quality of sleep, feeling more refreshed in the morning. They were not disturbed by the weight of the blanket and in fact, felt a sense of security. Furthermore, the weighted blanket did not affect their temperature in bed.”
It's not brain surgery... it's brain science
The brain science behind it is simple. Deep Tissue Pressure (DTP) has long been known to cause your brain to produce serotonin, which is your body’s naturally occurring feel-good chemical that helps you relax. And when you are in a dark room, your body automatically turns serotonin into melatonin, your body’s natural sleep chemical. An increase in serotonin from the pressure of the blanket increases your melatonin, helping you drift off into dreamland.
Which blanket is right for you?
There are many different weights and sizes of blankets on the market. Here are some guidelines to help you find the right fit.
Weight. The general guideline is that blankets should weigh 10% of a person’s body weight, plus 1-2 lbs. For example, a 40 lb child would need a 4-6 lb blanket. For adults it's more of a personal preference. Some people prefer more weight and some less. We suggest you test drive one before purchasing. We recommend less weight for frail or physically impaired people.
Length. Compare the height of the recipient to the length of the blanket. The blanket should be no more than 8" shorter than the user. If you think you might want to put it up over your face, then it should be your full length.
Purpose. How do you intend to use it? Most people use them for sleeping, in which case they should follow the weight and length recommendations above, but that is not always the case. If you need the blanket for focus at work or school, I suggest a lap blanket. For wheelchair users or car riders, a lap blanket or small blanket 6 lbs or less is a great choice.
Style. Finally, you need to think about your preference of fabrics. Maybe you're a person who loves soft furry textures, in which case a minky or faux fur would float your boat. Or maybe you get hot at night and need more breathability, in which case all cotton is the way to go. You can even choose a half and half option with a cute cotton print on one side and luxurious minky on the other. Think about which room in your house the blanket will spend the most time in and try to coordinate it to that room.
We hope this helps you understand how weighted blankets work and gives you a guide for choosing one that's perfect for you. A good night’s sleep is only a click away!
Article credit : Marj Ochs with The Swanky Stitchery
- "Can't sleep? Neither can 60 million other americans," from NPR's Talk of the Nation. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90638364
- O'Connell, Krista. "Effects of insomnia on the body," Healthline, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/insomnia-concerns
- "Facts & Statistics" from the ADAA website, https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
- Chen et al. "Physiological Effects of Deep Touch Pressure on Anxiety Alleviation: The Weighted Blanket Approach," Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering, v.33, 2012. http://www.jmbe.org.tw/files/1961/public/1961-5094-1-PB.pdf
- Hvolby et al. "Use of Ball Blanket in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder sleeping problems," Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, v.65, 2011. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/45387649_Use_of_Ball_Blanket_in_attention-deficithyperactivity_disorder_sleeping_problems
- Ackerley et al. "Positive effects of a weighted blanket on insomnia," Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders, v. 2, 2015. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1081315/FULLTEXT01.pdf
- Field et al. "Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy," International Journal of Neuroscience, v. 115, 2005. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16162447/
- Liew, Michelle. "Roles of melatonin and serotonin in sleep and how to boost them," LifeAdvancer, 2018. https://www.lifeadvancer.com/melatonin-and-serotonin-sleep/