How much do you know about weighted blankets? If, like me, you’ve just heard about them recently, or have known about them for quite a while, do you know all (and there are many) benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket?
Alright, first up, what actually is a weighted blanket? It’s exactly that – a blanket that typically weighs about 15lbs and has been filled with material such as tiny plastic pellets. They were designed to create the feeling of being hugged to sleep, thus relieving stress and anxiety. But further research has shown that they actually help with a plethora of things, from insomnia to ADHD, stress and even can even help with PTSD.
First up – insomnia. Insomnia affects around 15% of the Irish population, and it’s estimated that this figure is on the rise. 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 do a similar job by providing this firm but gentle pressure, helping you to catch every one of those 40 winks.
It also helps with sensory processing disorder. “Sensory processing disorder?” I hear you ask. Think of it as essentially a traffic jam in your brain. People who suffer from sensory processing disorder are more often than not hyper alert to their surroundings such as light, smell, sounds etc. However these sensory activities can often get scrambled by the brain, thus leading to anxiety in both adults and children. But because kids don’t always have the emotional maturity to explain what’s bothering them, it can be even more stressful for them.
A weighted blanket creates a calming effect in kids, and adults with sensory processing disorder. Due to its firm, steady pressure, it can also help calm the effects of other forms of anxiety too.
Similar effects can be found for those who suffer from ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive syndrome) which results in a lack of focus. 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.
A weighted blanket can even help with period pains in some women, and also with the effects of Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is sometimes known as the “silent disease” as it’s very difficult to diagnose. It affects a disproportionate amount of women and is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that the disease amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
For some people, the gentle but firm pressure of a weighted blanket is an important tool for preventing fibro flare-ups.