Weighted blankets are growing in popularity at a surprising rate. If you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about, we’ve got the details. The science is pretty fascinating, when you consider how much a weighted blanket can benefit our bodies while asleep and awake.
A weighted blanket is one that’s heavier than a regular blanket because of its special filler. The purpose is to hug you gently while you sleep. Weighted blankets are usually filled with beads or pellets evenly distributed throughout the inner layer.
How Weighted Blankets Work
The grounding effect of a weighted blanket could have several advantages. For many people, the benefits include soothing effects on their heart, hormones and overall nervous system.
Daily stress can raise your heart rate and make it hard to settle down for sleep. A weighted blanket’s calming pressure could help slow the heart down for deeper relaxation.
Stress also causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which also helps you wake up in the morning. Those with unusually high levels of this hormone at bedtime might achieve lowered cortisol due to a weighted blanket’s hugging action.
Chronic anxiety can keep our bodies in constant fight or flight mode. In other words, it can throw our nervous system out of whack. According to Penn Medicine, our autonomic nervous system is what controls how our bodies prepare for sleep. The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket could help bring your anxiety level down enough to signal your nervous system to unwind.
ADHD and Autism
Children with ADHD and autism might also benefit from using weighted blankets. A study in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that weighted vests helped children with ADHD experience better focus and less fidgeting.
Penn Medicine reports that children with autism might also benefit from a weighted blanket’s stress reducing effects. This stress relief might help them deal better with sensory stimulation and socializing during the day.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Weighted Blanket?
Young children who weigh less than 50 pounds shouldn’t use a weighted blanket. They are unlikely to be able to move it easily themselves, which could cause a risk of suffocation.
According to WebMD, people with sleep apnea, other breathing challenges, blood circulation issues, and skin allergies should check with their doctor before using a weighted blanket.
How to Choose a Weighted Blanket
When buying a weighted blanket, look for one that’s about 10% your body weight, and no heavier than that.
Consider blanket fabrics if you have allergies to certain fibers or a weighted blanket’s fillings. You should be able to find allergen-free weighted blankets made from natural fibers, like long-staple cotton.
For an organic weighted blanket, choose one made of organic cotton and filled with beads made from natural glass.
Keep in mind that weighted blankets are probably less ideal in the heat of summer, but the benefits might be worth the higher air conditioning bill.