Are weighted blankets right for you?

Are weighted blankets right for you?

Do weighted blankets really help you get a better night’s sleep?

They can, says Linda Wolfe-Stine, an occupational therapist at the Pediatric Development Center at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

She says weighted blankets are not an answer for a sleep or sensory processing disorder, but they are a low-maintenance tool that can provide support for those struggling with these issues. More research needs to be done to determine how effective weighted blankets are for managing anxiety, as few studies exist and much of the evidence is anecdotal.

The placebo effect, expecting the blanket to work and so you feel it does, could also come into play when describing its effectiveness. However, if you feel like a weighted blanket is making a positive impact in your life, Wolfe-Stine says it’s OK to continue using it.

“If an individual tries a weighted blanket and feels it helps them, then it does,” Wolf-Stine says.

While many people can benefit from tucking themselves into a weighted blanket, this type of blanket can be especially helpful for those who are sensitive to light touch or have difficulty relaxing for sleep. The weight of the blanket, which is typically 10% of an individual’s weight, may help them calm down, fall asleep faster and with greater ease and stay asleep for longer periods of time. Wolfe says weighted blankets provide a sense of deep pressure, also known as proprioception. The blanket’s pressure can have the same calming effects on adults and children that being swaddled has on a baby. A good example of soothing that comes from proprioception is when you or someone you know wants to be covered up by a blanket, even in a hot room. Wolfe-Stine says they’re not craving the warmth of the blanket, but the weight, which can make them feel good.

“The idea is that the weight of the blanket can provide soothing, calming and organization of the nervous system,” says Wolfe-Stine. “It is also suspected that serotonin, a neurotransmitter that enhances the feeling of well-being and calm, may be released more with proprioceptive input.”

Weighted blankets are often used with individuals who have autism, sensory processing difficulties, anxiety and sleep difficulties. Weighted blankets, vests and suits can benefit children during their waking hours, as well. Wolfe-Stine says they are often used during pediatric occupational therapy services.

“It can be calming for children who are sensitive to tactile (touch) input and vestibular (motion) input. Also, the weighted equipment can sometimes assist with improving a child’s attention or focus and ability to self-regulate during difficult tasks,” says Wolfe-Stine.

Weighted vests can be used with healthy children, teens and adults without risk, but they are not recommended for infants.

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  1. Judith A Carlson June 24, 2019 at 11:39 am · Reply

    We bought a weighted blanket. My husband loves it, but I felt like I was being held down, couldn’t move, couldn’t roll over, and it was actually painful on my bad hip. He uses it on his side of the bed – he just doubles it up so it actually ends up twice as heavy on him. Yikes!

  2. I like sleeping under a good comforter, but what does one do in the summer? Turn the AC to 60°?

  3. I like to wear the weighted xray vest when I am at the dentist. It really helps my dental anxiety.

  4. If you ever had a knee replacement , for example, too much weight on your leg at night is very uncomfortable and makes you knee ache throughout the night.
    Weighted blankets are not wanted after hip or knee surgery.

  5. I use to have a cat sleep on my feet. When she passed I had to add weight to the lower part of the bed to get a good nights sleep!!!!

  6. Would this possibly help someone with Fibromyalgia?

  7. I wonder if I would like one. I use a sheepskin rug on the bed over my blankets. It’s heavy and very comforting. It just gets hot sometimes if it’s warmer in the room.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.