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What Are The Benefits of Weighted Blankets?

Wellness · 02/20/20

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A good night’s sleep can be elusive at times. Stress, anxiety, and disorders may cause you to toss and turn at night. You may have tried meditation apps, sleeping pills, and white noise devices to no avail. Is it possible that weighted blankets can actually help you sleep and improve your overall well being?

There is still an ongoing debate surrounding the exact uses and benefits of weighted blankets, but a sharp increase in interest in them in the past few years signifies that people are eager to try out these “magic blankets.” Beyond sleep problems, weighted blankets for adults are being touted for their ability to ease anxiety, help with sensory problems, create a calming effect, soothe the elderly, and more. Discover why weighted blankets are taking over the mainstream market and making their way onto a cozy bed near you.

What Are Weighted Blankets?

Weighted blankets, also known as gravity blankets, were first developed to aid mental health issues like anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other disorders. [1] Doctors found that the blankets could be used as a tool for proprioceptive input or deep touch pressure stimulation therapy, which is essentially applied light, but firm pressure that is evenly distributed all over the body. When this pressure is felt, the brain naturally produces and releases melatonin and serotonin, feel-good hormones that many people suffering from mental health disorders have in short supply.

What Do Weighted Blankets Do?

weighted blankets on discount

So… What do weighted blankets do? In a nutshell, they provide slight pressure around the body which gives a comforting feeling, making falling asleep and staying asleep easier. The gentle pressure on the body and natural response in the brain is similar to receiving a big hug from a friend or getting a massage. Using a weighted blanket is a very reassuring experience that people everywhere are realizing is not limited to people with anxiety or mental health disorders. In fact, more and more people are finding that weighted blankets help them sleep soundly through the night and generally feel more relaxed.

What Are Weighted Blankets Made Of?

If you plan on buying a weighted blanket, there are a few factors that you need to consider, including the materials used. The weight in a heavy blanket comes primarily from the filling. Weighted blankets are usually filled with balls, chains, and plastic pellets. Non-toxic plastic poly pellets are a very popular choice as are glass beads, though the beads are a more expensive option. There are also other fillers like millet, rice, and lead (make sure you avoid weighted blankets filled with lead). The outside materials vary as well, from flannel to cotton, fleece, and acrylic. Anyone who naturally feels warm at night and considers themselves a “hot sleeper” should opt for a breathable, all-natural exterior fabric. Soft cotton is the most popular breathable choice. Muslin is another popular choice because it is also considered to be a breathable fabric.

The Different Styles of Weighted Blankets

benefits of weighted blankets

Styles of weighted blankets range from a traditional blanket to a duvet where the filling can be separated from the exterior. A duvet is easy to care for as the exterior can be washed in the laundry. With your weighted blanket or comforter, keep in mind that it should cover you from your chin to the ends of your feet. You can also go beyond the blanket with alternatives like weighted lap pads, weighted sleep masks, and weighted vests. These options are ideal if you seek the benefits of a weighted blanket, but want something more wearable throughout the day.

Weight: The 10% Rule

Weighted blankets come in different weights, from four to thirty pounds for adults. [2] Ideally, the best weighted blanket should weigh around 10% of an adult’s body weight, which is generally between 10 to 25 pounds.[3] Extra weight is not necessarily beneficial, so be sure to get the right blanket for your body and seek medical advice if you are unsure. Before introducing a weighted blanket to your child, be sure to speak with your pediatrician as there is a risk of smothering or suffocation if used incorrectly. Weighted blankets should never be given to infants or very young children.

Are Weighted Blankets Worth It?

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While weighted blankets can come with a higher price tag than regular blankets, the health benefits they provide make them well worth the cost. We believe the benefits of weighted blankets make them well worth it. For anxiety and sleep issues as well as other disorders, weighted blankets are powerful enough to help many people improve the quality of their lives. Let’s look at the specific benefits of weighted blankets and why people love them enough to refer to them as “magic blankets.”

10 Weighted Blankets Health Benefits

1. It helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

The first thing to consider is that are very beneficial if you have sleep issues. Even if you don’t frequently suffer from insomnia, one bad night of sleep can cause fatigue the next day, decreasing your productivity levels and putting you in a bad mood. This can affect your work and relationships in a myriad of ways. Unfortunately, it’s possible to get enough hours of sleep but still feel out of sorts because your sleep quality isn’t good. A weighted blanket (along with quality mattress and a perfect pillow) can make all the difference when it comes to getting better sleep. 

Particularly for those that wake up due to stress and anxiety, a weighted blanket may improve sleep significantly. They are created to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep so that you can get the night of rest you deserve.

Based on a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders in 2015, 31 adults who were diagnosed with chronic insomnia were monitored for a week using their own blankets, two weeks with weighted blankets, and another week with their own blankets. According to the results, 4 out of 5 patients preferred to sleep with a weighted blanket because they were able to sleep longer with little to no occurrences of waking up in the middle of the night.[4]

Weighted blankets for sleep issues are a great tool for the elderly struggling with getting a good night’s sleep as well as younger adults. As we get on in years, our sleep-wake cycle changes to the point that we barely get eight hours of sleep at night. In many elderly people, this lack of sleep leads them to have insomnia which can affect their overall wellness and even their health. The use of weighted blankets has shown to significantly improve the quality of sleep for elderly people and the number of hours they get to sleep at night.[5]

2. It is useful to help lower anxiety and stress.

Designed to help patients feel calm and relaxed during bouts of stress and anxiety, research has shown that weighted blankets have been found to help alleviate symptoms of an anxiety disorder, thus making it easier for people to fall asleep while using them and have a decreased chance of duress or panic attacks during the night.[6]  When deep touch pressure is applied evenly on the body, research has proven that the activity of the body’s sympathetic nervous system declines. This is the “fight or flight” mode that often leaves anxiety sufferers in a state of panic. Instead, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, moving the body into a “rest and digest” mode that allows for deep relaxation in body and mind.[7]

3. It can lower blood pressure and pulse rate.

When your system achieves this homeostasis in the parasympathetic nervous system, physical manifestations of calm will appear. Your heart rate will slow, your blood pressure will drop, and the stress hormone cortisol will decrease. Sweating from the stress that you might normally experience during the day will subside. Your body will be at ease, exactly what it needs while it sleeps to maintain a healthy immune system and mindset.

4. It helps cope with PTSD.

PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is often linked to veterans, but can also arise in individuals who have experienced a stressful or traumatic event. If you suffer from PTSD, small things throughout the night may serve as triggers of anxiety or memories. A weighted blanket works to calm the senses, soothing the mind and turning a fitful night of sleep into deep rest.

5. It is calming for people with ADHD.

Patients who have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may have difficulty focusing and sleeping regardless of whether they are adults or kids. A weighted blanket helps them to fall asleep faster, so their brain is able to get into a rest state quicker. With the blanket, someone with ADHD can stay asleep longer and not wake up to distractions throughout the night.

6. It can help patients with symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Weighted blankets for adults and teens are perfectly safe according to Teresa May-Benson, who practices occupational therapy associated with the Spiral Foundation located in Newton, Massachusetts. She notes that these blankets have long been in use in sensory integration therapy, which is designed to help patients on the autism spectrum and patients struggling with sensory issues. Experts say that this type of therapy can improve autistic patients’ emotions as well as behavior.[8]

7. It alleviates symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome.

Those who are diagnosed with restless leg syndrome often describe the sensation caused by the disorder as a spider crawling up and down their legs. This makes it impossible to fall asleep until the feeling subsides. Some patients found that the deep pressure stimulation on their legs from a weighted blanket helped reduce RLS and keep them from waking up.

8. It helps ease chronic pain issues like Fibromyalgia.

If you are someone who suffers from chronic pain from injuries or conditions like fibromyalgia, a weighted blanket can potentially ease your discomfort at night. Fibromyalgia affects up to 10 million people in the United States alone but is often undiagnosed because the symptoms range drastically from person to person. For this reason, medication to help sufferers is often not focused enough to help with the specific issue a person with fibromyalgia faces. The deep pressure touch of a weighted blanket can feel like a gentle massage on the areas of the body that need it most, relieving pain. Research suggests that people who suffer from fibromyalgia often also have reduced serotonin levels, suffer from fatigue, and have unbalanced moods because of the effects of the disorder. A weighted blanket eases all of these symptoms, helping people with fibromyalgia feel more in control of their life. [9]

9. It relaxes people suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder.

Sensory Processing Disorder is like a traffic jam in the brain. Signals are sent from sensory input that results in responses from the brain that don’t make sense. This neurophysiologic condition affects the regular sleep of children and adults. [10] A weighted blanket is a great tool for patients with Sensory Processing Disorder because it helps the user feel more calm and relaxed and less likely to be overwhelmed with exterior stimuli.

10. It gives you peace of mind.

We can all find benefits from weighted blankets. In a society where we are always on the move and spend most of the day either running around to meetings or looking at screens, it can feel almost impossible to shut off fully at night. A weighted blanket is like noise-canceling headphones that tell us that it is ok to look inward and relax. Plus, weighted blankets encourage your body to stay still while you are sleeping. There is effort in moving around at night, which can wake you up and cause fatigue the next day.

benefits of weighted blankets

Do Weighted Blankets Work?

A weighted blanket is not a medication and it’s not for everyone. However, when used properly, it can alleviate the symptoms of medical conditions like sleep disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Sleep is so precious, why wouldn’t you want to try something that could make it better and help you get the rest you need? Learn more about our weighted blankets and experience the magic yourself.

Resources

  1. https://www.livescience.com/59315-weighted-blankets-faq.html
  2. https://www.mosaicweightedblankets.com/blog/weighted-blankets-what-is-better-cotton-or-polyester-minky-fabric/
  3. https://www.rocabi.com/blogs/news/the-effect-of-brian-chemicals-on-sleep
  4. https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/weighted-blanket-benefits
  5. https://www.jscimedcentral.com/SleepMedicine/sleepmedicine-2-1022.pdf
  6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201808/do-weighted-blankets-really-ease-sleeplessness

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