Ever feel a sense of comfort when the dentist puts that lead blanket over your body to take x-rays of your teeth? A weighted blanket might be for you.
Weighted blankets have long been suggested for individuals of all ages who suffer from anxiety, and particularly for children with ADHD or neurological conditions that make relaxation difficult. The blankets have recently hit mainstream retail for anyone looking for a better night’s sleep.
Primitive stimulation experts suggest our bodies never completely lose the sense of comfort we felt when we were swaddled as infants. As well, a heavy blanket may restrict restless body movements at night that tend to lighten our sleep or even wake us.
Weighted blankets have standard covers and textures, but they have dozens of interior baffles. Tiny glass beads or polymer pellets inside provide balanced (and washable) weight that molds to body curves in a deep pressure “hug” that relaxes the nervous system.
Experts recommend a weight not to exceed 20 percent of your body weight for optimum results.
The science of a weighted blanket is the “deep pressure touch” that releases serotonin and dopamine; the neurotransmitters that make you feel better and more relaxed. Because some with sensory-processing disorders are hypersensitive to touch, deep pressure can help de-sensitize and provide calm.
Children who experience stress or anxiety in different situations, or who struggle to fall asleep at night may find a weighted blanket useful. The pressure the blankets offer may also help children with ADHD or sensory processing disorders remain focused on schoolwork.
If you’re thinking about buying one, try cuddling up under a pile of blankets or quilts to test out how much you like the heavy sensation.
Because of their size, weighted blankets are not recommended for infants. Toddlers who have trouble sleeping may derive benefits at naptime, but they are not recommended for a full night’s sleep.
While there is preliminary research that weighted blankets can help increase sleep time, it is not suggested as a cure for insomnia.
If you decide to try one, take note of any new or increased levels of pain or soreness. Some users report significant problems with back or hip pain and/or numbness in the legs. It is very possible to suffer muscle fatigue from sleeping under a heavy blanket overnight. Therapists suggest 20-30 increments for relaxation therapy instead.
If you are hot-natured and the blankets prove too warm, or for smaller children, you may also consider a bed wrap, which is a slightly elasticized sheet that fits over the mattress like a pillowcase and provides the gentle snuggle without weight.
Georgetown View is not recommending or discouraging use of this product. This column is intended only to provide data and shed general light on a topic we find to be trend-worthy for entertainment purposes. Check with your doctor or other professional about the effectiveness and safety of this product for specific individuals.