Despite its recent surge in popularity, weighted blankets have been used since 1999, when occupational therapist Tina Champagne began using weighted blankets to help her mental health patients. From easing the symptoms of sensory issues to helping insomniacs get that restful nights sleep they deserve, weighted blankets are able to address a wide range of issues which we'll discuss in depth in this article.
1. Eases Insomnia
Until you’ve experienced insomnia, it’s easy to dismiss it as a mere bump in an otherwise smooth road of easy sleep.
It’s safe to say anyone with this attitude has never truly experienced insomnia. If you’re one of the 40 million Americans who suffer from the condition, you know exactly how Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club felt. (He was so exhausted he literally hallucinated through the entire movie. He also punched himself.)
While your insomnia might not drive you to create an underground boxing club, it can definitely interfere with your life. Research has shown that a form of therapy called deep touch pressure stimulation promotes the release of serotonin, a chemical that regulates sleep.
Weighted blankets provide this firm but gentle pressure anytime you need it, which means lots of blissful ZZZs.
2. Helps with Sensory Processing Disorder
Researchers have described sensory processing disorder as a “traffic jam” in your brain. Information gets in, but it somehow gets jumbled and clogged up along the way. This can lead to anxiety and meltdowns. Sensory processing disorder can be especially challenging for young kids, who don’t always have the emotional maturity to verbalize how they’re feeling.
Studies have shown that weighted blankets can produce a “calming effect” in kids and adults with a sensory processing disorder. The same research also states that weighted blankets help reduce the anxiety that often accompanies the condition.
3. Reduces Anxiety
Anxiety is unfortunately quite common, and about 40 million people in the U.S. have some form of it. There are several ways to deal with anxiety, including identifying your triggers, setting aside designated “worry times” throughout the week and using a weighted blanket.
A weighted blanket is a lot like getting a firm but gentle hug — except you don’t have to bribe your roommate or significant other to give you one. Even better, you can get the benefits just about anywhere, from the sofa to your bed.
4. Fights Back Against Stress
Stress happens to everyone, and you don’t have to have a chronic stress problem to feel the negative side effects. Whether it’s a bad day at work, an argument with your spouse or an avalanche of bills, stress can do a number on your mental and physical health.
The good news is weighted blankets help you fight back. Research shows that deep touch pressure stimulation therapy works. With a weighted blanket, you don’t have to travel to a therapist or buy expensive equipment to get stress relief.
5. Improves Focus for ADHD
One of the most common hallmarks of attention-deficit hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD) is a lack of focus. This can be a problem for both children and adults. Whereas some people with ADHD have trouble completing a task, others are inclined to impulsiveness and restlessness.
The bottom line is that ADHD poses a wide range of possible symptoms, and it doesn’t always affect everyone the same way.
Deep touch pressure stimulation, which is what weighted blankets offer, has been shown to produce a calming, soothing effect that reduces anxiety. And because deep touch pressure also helps with mood and sleep, it’s also great for addressing those symptoms in ADHD sufferers.
Check out our blog post for more tips on dealing with ADHD: Do Weighted Blankets Help with ADHD
6. Eases Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
Patients with restless leg syndrome often describe it as a tingling or “creepy crawly” feeling in their legs. Because symptoms tend to happen more frequently at night, it can lead to insomnia and unsatisfying sleep. Traveling in a car or riding in an airplane can be a nightmare when you have an overwhelming urge to constantly move your legs.
Some patients say they could get relief if only they could somehow weight down their legs or put constant pressure on them. Many even turn to compression socks to get some relief.
However, these socks can be extremely tight and even add to the discomfort. They can also be difficult for people with arthritis or mobility challenges to put on. Weighted blankets provide the deep pressure you crave without any constriction on your legs.
7. Helps Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibromyalgia has sometimes been called a “silent disease” because so many sufferers fail to get a diagnosis or wait years before receiving one. It’s also a condition that disproportionately affects women.
Characterized by chronic, idiopathic pain in at least 11 out of 18 pain points, fibromyalgia can be debilitating. While certain drugs may help patients manage their symptoms, there is no cure for fibromyalgia.
For some people, the gentle but firm pressure of a weighted blanket is an important tool for preventing fibro flare-ups. At SensaCalm, we constantly hear from fibromyalgia patients who swear by their weighted blankets and wouldn’t sleep without one.
You can read more about fibromyalgia and weighted blankets here: Can a Weighted Blanket Help with Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
8. Improves Sleep Quality
Not everyone who experiences bad sleep has insomnia. Sometimes, fatigue is simply the result of poor sleep quality. While it’s important to get the right amount of sleep, it’s also important to make sure the sleep you get is truly restful and restorative. Some experts refer to sleep quality as sleep hygiene.
One way to improve your sleep hygiene is by using a weighted blanket. Because deep touch pressure stimulation boosts serotonin, sleeping under the firm but gentle pressure can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer and wake feeling more rested.
9. Boosts Mood
When you feel down, it can sometimes seem like you’ll never feel “normal” or happy again. While it’s normal to feel grouchy or irritable, researchers know that some bouts of sadness are caused by chemical changes in the brain. For example, if your brain isn’t producing enough serotonin, it could actually impact your emotional health.
Even better, you can get this therapy at home (or just about anywhere) with a weighted blanket.
10. Promotes Calmness
Have you ever had a day that just refused to go right? The kind of day where you get stuck in traffic on the way to work, spill coffee all over yourself at your desk and then come home to a dishwasher that leaked all over the floor?
Bad days can strike when you least expect it — or need it. A popular misconception about weighted blankets is that you must have a diagnosed medical condition to truly need one. While we here at SensaCalm love hearing from people and families who use our blankets for medical issues, we also talk to customers who use their weighted blankets to unwind and de-stress after a long day.
The reality is that everyone can benefit from feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. You deserve a little TLC. A weighted blanket can definitely deliver it!