13 Amazing Benefits of Weighted Blankets
Stress, anxiety, worry, depression. These are just some of the conditions that can affect the quality of your sleep, mood and overall well-being. There are many medications available to help with sleep, but most people opt for more natural methods first. Weighted blankets have proving to be very useful in this regard, because of the positive effects on people's moods. And as a drug-free alternative to combating anxiety disorders, weighted blankets have many benefits:
1. Imitating a hug
Weighted blankets imitate the feeling of a firm hug. This 'hug' causes you feel safe and secure, while promoting brain development. From the time we are born, physical touch is required to help soothe us and encourage brain development. This is especially important for people with special needs like autism, where physical touch is not tolerated.
2. Increasing focus
Deep Pressure stimulation reduces the unnecessary fidgeting and movement of the body. This, in return, has an organizing effect on the brain allowing you to focus or have a better night's sleep. This has proven very helpful for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One study found that when participants wore a weighted vest, their attention to a task and task completion improved. Behavior also improved.
3. Calming effect
Over stimulation of the nervous system - typical in some special needs communities, or people with anxiety disorders - results in sensory overload. If not controlled, this can result in meltdowns and more long-term health problems. Using a weighted blanket causes the release of hormones which calms the nervous system, helping you feel safe and secure. This is also why it is used with people who are stressed or those with disorders that cause hyperactivity.
4. Boosts mood
As a result of the hormones released into the body, researchers found that weighted blankets actually increased the “happy” serotonin levels by 28% percent and that the stress hormone, cortisol, decreased by 31%.
5. Natural sleep aid
6. Reducing nighttime movement
Because of the weight of the blanket on the body, it helps reduce movement and night. This results in a more restful night's sleep and better sleep quality. It also helps reduce the effects of conditions like restless leg syndrome (RLS).
7. Reduces heart rate
As explained above, we all need touch for our development. Researchers have found that touch therapy also helps decrease heart rate. A weighted blanket simulates touch therapy, producing a calming effect and therefore reducing the heart rate associated with conditions like anxiety or other panic-like disorders.
8. Helps manage PTSD
Weighted blankets have helped patients with PTSD trauma feel more relaxed, grounded and safe by helping to relax the nervous system.
9. Helps ease Alzheimer's symptoms
A common symptom of Alzheimer's, depression, affects between five and 20 percent of patients. Fear and fatigue are also prevalent as people with Alzheimer's try to make sense of the world around them, but are unable to do so. Weighted blankets have been found to help decrease the feelings of depression and anxiety in some cases.
10. Improved Sleep Quality
People who use a weighted blanket often notice they sleep longer, have fewer disruptions during their sleep and experienced overall improved sleep. There have also been reports that a weighted blanket can help people fall asleep faster.
In addition to the above, people on the autism spectrum ,with ADHD or other sensory processing disorders (SPD) gain the following:
11. Increased spatial awareness
When someone with autism lays under the weighted blanket, the fabric puts pressure on their sensory receptors. This proprioceptive input which informs our body of its position in space by directing muscles on how to react to external stimuli many not be fully developed in someone with autism. The weighted blanket however allows them to feel their body’s movements. They can sense when their arm is outstretched or when their knee is bent. This sensory information gives them a better understanding of their body’s location.
12. Improved transition times
A person with ADHD or autism may have a hard time transitioning from high to low energy activities. This is especially noticeable, for example when a child comes home from school, need to start homework, or before bed time. The calming effect from the blanket gives the child a chance to settle down before starting a new activity.
13. Improved Communication
Mentioned earlier, the effects of DPT results in increased feeling of safety and grounding, and leads to more focus. Another observed benefit is improvements in communication for persons on the autism spectrum.
Weighted blankets are a great, natural supplement to help with SPD or anxiety-related disorders.