What Are Weighted Blankets? What Are The Benefits of Using Them?
Wondering what a weighted blanket is, and whether it can help you increase your quality of life? You’re at the right place!
In this guide, we walk you through:
- What a heavy blanket actually is
- How they work and how to use them
- The benefits of using them regularly
- How they can help alleviate various medical conditions
As you’ll come to see, these blankets are highly versatile, and they’re used by people across the world, from all walks of life. Some folks use these them to cope with anxiety or PTSD, and others use them simply to get a better night’s sleep.
Ready? Let’s jump right in!
What is a weighted blanket?
Well, they are pretty self-explanatory - they’re simply duvets that are filled with a material to weigh them down.
Most of them weigh in at 15 pounds or more, and they’re typically filled with plastic pellets, poly pellets or glass beads (less conventional “stuffers” include rice, millet, and lead).
In the past, weighted blankets were predominantly used by occupational therapists as a therapy tool. These days, they have gone “mainstream”, and consumers are now purchasing them to help them cope with insomnia, stress, and other conditions.
How does a sleep-inducing blanket work?
Now that we’ve discussed what exactly they are, let's move on to exploring how they work.
Weighted blankets essentially provide a therapy termed Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) Stimulation. This sounds like a fancy term, but it just refers to any form of deep pressure that’s exerted equally across the body.
If you’ve ever swaddled a baby and watched them drift off peacefully into sleep, well, that’s DTP at work. Swaddling aside, DTP can also be administered through other techniques, including squeezing, stroking, and firm hugs.
Once you receive DTP, your brain releases Serotonin, a “feel good” chemical that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.
So, here’s a quick recap:
Using a Hush Blanket = DTP stimulation.
DTP stimulation = Release of Serotonin.
Release of Serotonin, lowering of cortisol = You become happier, calmer, and less anxious.
If you’re wondering how to use a weighted blanket, it’s pretty straightforward. Just drape it over yourself, and go to sleep like you normally would.
Insomnia blanket benefits that will make you a convert
Weighted blankets can help you improve your quality of life in several ways. Read on to find out about the various benefits!
1. Improves quality of sleep
Top on our list of benefits is none other than: improving your quality of sleep!
Insomnia is a huge problem plaguing our nation - that much is obvious.
The numbers don’t lie: approximately 40 million Americans struggle with insomnia, we lose about US$63 billion worth of productivity due to insomnia per year, and insomnia is a major contributing factor to deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes.
Other countries, too, are grappling with the same problem. The average person in Japan, for instance, sleeps less than 6 hours per day, and naps periodically through the day to make up for their sleep deficit.
Now, here’s where the solution comes in.
According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders, weighted blankets may aid in reducing insomnia through altered tactile inputs, providing “an innovative, non-pharmacological approach and complementary tool to improve sleep quality.”
In this study, participants slept for a week in their habitual environment, and then spent two weeks sleeping using a heavy blanket. All in all, researchers found that when participants slept with one, their sleep bout time increased; they also moved around less in their sleep.
When researchers asked the participants to recount their experiences, participants reported that they found it easier to settle down to sleep, had better sleep quality, and woke up feeling more refreshed in the morning.
2. Reduces stress and anxiety
Insomnia aside, anxiety blankets are also a godsend for anyone who routinely experiences large amounts of stress and anxiety.
More specifically, a study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health shows that participants who use them experience lower blood pressure, pulse rates and pulse oximetry; these are all signs of reduced stress levels.
When asked to describe the effects of the such a blanket, participants reported feeling less stressed after using it . 63% of participants also stated that they felt less anxious, with 78% indicating that they “preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality.”
Anxiety blanket uses: how they help with medical conditions
Apart from contributing to your general well-being, weighted blankets are also proven to help with certain medical conditions.
If you (or a loved one!) has an autism spectrum disorder, ADHD or PTSD, a weighted blanket might help you and cope with your condition.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Using DPT to soothe nervous systems of those with autism disorders is by lowering cortisol no means a new technique; this actually dates back to the 1990s.
Here’s the back story: two to three decades ago, autism researcher Dr Temple Grandin noticed that cows who were receiving vaccinations became calm when they were gently squeezed in the machines that were used in the process.
Following this, Dr Grandin came up with the idea of building a similar device for people; she termed this the “Squeeze Machine”.
The machine turned out to be a huge success; individuals with autism who used the squeeze machine came away feeling more relaxed, less anxious, and more receptive to touch.
Now, while you can buy the Squeeze Machine today, it’s both bulky and expensive (TheRafin.com sells it for $4525, exclusive of shipping).
Bearing this in mind, a weighted blanket is a good alternative. Like Squeeze Machines, these blankets use DPT to soothe individuals, but they’re priced much more affordably.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A close cousin of the weighted blanket is the weighted vest; this has been shown to help those with ADHD focus better and concentrate on the task at hand.
According to a study published in the South African Journal of Occupational Therapy Evidence, learners diagnosed with ADHD show significant improvements in in-seat behavior while wearing weighted vests.
The study states that “proprioceptive and deep pressure input” provided by the weighted vest improved the participants’ under or over responsivity to sensory information, and this in turn allowed them to attend to their tasks more effectively.
That’s not all - another study in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy also shows that those participants who wear weighted vests are rewarded with improved attention. In this study, 110 children with ADHD who wore weighted vests had a higher ability to stay on task, and processed and responded to stimuli more quickly as well.
At this point, you might be wondering… what’s the difference between a weighted blanket and a weighted vest? Can you use one in place of the other?
While weighted blankets and vests work the same way, weighted blankets are primarily used to applying DPT while one is at rest. In contrast, weighted vests give you the freedom of moving around and going about your daily activities.
In other words: whether you should use a weighted blanket or vest depends on what you’re doing.
If you’re reading quietly or using your laptop, and you want to use DPT to help you concentrate better, draping a weighted blanket over yourself will do the trick. You don’t have to go out of the way to purchase and use a weighted vest!
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Mention the term “PTSD”, and most people automatically think of soldiers who have been in combat. But PTSD doesn’t just affect those in the military - it also afflicts ordinary folk who have suffered traumatic experiences such as robberies, car accidents, and other forms of assault.
Now, it’s common for those who have PTSD to constantly feel that they’re in danger. PTSD sufferers know that they’re safe, but their system remains in the “fight or flight” mode; as you can imagine, this is mentally and physically exhausting.
Here’s where weighted blankets come into the picture. Using DPT, weighted blankets can help to quiet a person’s central nervous system, and calm them down.
As mentioned previously, weighted blankets are often used by occupational therapist to help patients in psychiatric care; these can help an individual reduce their anxiety, and regain control of their emotions.
A final word on using weighted blankets
Alright, that’s all we have for you on the topic of weighted blankets. You now know all there is to know about weighted blankets!
Regardless of whether you’re trying to alleviate the symptoms of a particular condition, or you simply want to get a better night’s sleep, you can use a weighted blanket to do just that.
Here at Hush Blankets, we’ve had thousands of people email us and tell us that their lives have been changed after they started using our weighted blankets.
If you want to experience the magic of a weighted blanket for yourself, hop on over to our website where you can purchase the Hush Blanket.
It will cover any mattress size - King/Queen/Twin, and we also had kids options. Use this sizing guide to select the proper weight and size.
Our blankets are backed by a 100 Night Guarantee, so if you don’t fall in love with your blanket, you can return it and we’ll process a full refund (inclusive of your shipping fees).
What are you waiting for? Time to get rid of your stress, ease symptoms of anxiety and insomnia using the Hush Blanket!