This week we are talking about weighted blankets thanks to a suggestion from Kim who has fibromyalgia and also restless leg syndrome. Kim has written an article about these special blankets and recommends a lovely family run business to purchase them from at her blog.
Here I wanted to explain a little about the benefits of weighted blankets.
I first heard about weighted blankets, as a therapy tool for children with sensory concerns, years ago when I worked with children with learning difficulties. (At this time we use to get heavy damp towels and place one on each of the child's shoulders to calm them down!) Things have moved on.
Apparently many parents have seen the benefits for their children in the calming effect and improvement in mood and sleep of weighted blankets and also weighted vests and now these blankets are being used by adults.
So exactly what is a weighted blanket? It's exactly what it says - a blanket with extra weight in it. This type of blanket is applying deep touch pressure gently and evenly over the body which has many scientifically proven benefits.
The science behind weighted blankets
A 2015 study printed in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders came to the following conclusion:
The weighted chain blanket used in the present study had a positive impact on sleep, both objectively and subjectively, where a number of physiological and behavioral measures were improved during weighted blanket use. When the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep, with a decrease in movements. Subjectively, they believed that using the blanket provided them with a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep. In conclusion, a weighted blanket may aid in reducing insomnia through increased tactile and proprioceptive inputs, may provide an innovative, nonpharmacological approach and complementary tool to improve sleep quality.A 2006 study reported:
63% reported lower anxiety after use, and 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality.People who use these blankets report getting to sleep quicker, not moving around so much in the night, so not waking as much, having a deeper more refreshing sleep, better focus in the day, being calmer and having less anxiety. The science behind this is that these blankets have been shown to increase serotonin in the body. This chemical occurs widely throughout the body and influences a variety of functions including regulating mood and stimulating the parts of the brain that control sleep and waking.
As well as chemical changes, there are nervous system changes when using weighted blankets. The nervous system calms down when under a heavy blanket. This is a great benefit for people who can’t fall asleep due to anxiety.
What to consider when purchasing a weighted blanket
Find out what the filling is and if it is machine washable. The person selling you the blanket should help you with the correct size and weight for your body.
So if you are interested in finding out more about these weighted wonders or purchasing one please check out the information at Kim's post or go to Amazon where we found the number one best seller in the blanket category. These manufacturer's say "The heavy blanket helps relax the nervous system by simulating the feeling of being held or hugged and make you fall asleep fast and sleep better. It provides great sleep therapy for people with anxiety, autism, ADHD, insomnia or stress."
2015 sleep study: Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia Ackerley R. Badre G. and Olausson H. Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
2006 study: Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket,
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