The Science Behind the Hype
If you or your child has autism, anxiety or sensory processing disorder, PTSD, unrelenting stress, or other mental health conditions that make you feel depressed or anxious, a weighted blanket can help manage the symptoms. In fact, these blankets have even been recommended by doctors and occupational therapists.
Weighted blankets were designed to replicate the benefits of deep touch pressure therapy, and research has shown that they ease anxiety, boost oxytocin in the brain, and help people with sensory processing disorders feel more relaxed.
These blankets have become more and more popular with a huge hype surrounding them and retailers everywhere starting to carry them, including us. What can they really do?
Let’s dig in.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket looks just like a regular blanket, the secret’s in the inside. In fact, the Malouf Anchor Blankets we’ll be carrying look incredible and they are so soft.
Unlike a regular blanket, however, a weighted blanket is filled with beads or pellets that provide the extra weight. In most constructions, the filler is sewn into self-contained pockets that are evenly distributed across the surface of the blanket.
Some blankets have pockets from about six to eight inches, while some provide smaller pockets of four inches. This can be preferable because it is better at keeping the weight evenly distributed. Most blankets are provided in a few different weights and sizes. These are designed for use by one person too. So, you’re not looking for a blanket that covers your whole bed but your whole person.
How Does a Weighted Blanket Work?
Snuggling up under a blanket is often a soothing activity for anyone. You might even have a favorite blanket or had one as a child. Feeling warm and cozy under a blanket feels good.
Weighted blankets take the benefits of a regular blanket and combine it with a therapy tool. Originally developed by autism researcher, Temple Grandin, Dr. Grandin observed cows being led through a compression device created to hold them in place for their vaccinations. She remarked that the cows were calmer and more docile as the machine squeezed them.
Dr. Grandin is on the autism spectrum herself and remembered how being hugged as a child frequently eased her anxiety and sensory processing disorder. However, she also recognized that on some occasions, hugging had irritated or frightened her. She was curious if there was a way to help people with autism and sensory processing disorders get the benefits of a hug without feeling confined.
Taking notes from the farm, she developed a squeeze machine or hug machine, a therapy tool that applies firm but gentle pressure throughout the body. Like a hug, it stimulates the release of oxytocin, a happiness hormone.
Choosing the right weight for a weighted blanket is the most important step. Thankfully, it’s very simple. A blanket should be approximately 10-12% of your body weight, within a pound or two. If you weight about 150 pounds you’d want a 15-pound blanket. If you’re 200 pounds, a 20-pound blanket will work nicely.
Why Do Weighted Blankets Help with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder?
We now know that hugging and contact important for all people and helps us to release oxytocin. Oxytocin is an important neurotransmitter that assists us to feel relaxed, calm, and generally happy. Christopher Bergland at Psychology Today stated that, “Oxytocin is a hormone directly linked to human bonding and increasing trust and loyalty.” In fact, we know that it is released when we snuggle, when we’re intimate with each other, and during breastfeeding.
This information has been used to create deep touch pressure therapy, which has been shown to increase oxytocin in people with autism, anxiety, and sensory processing disorder.
However, those with a sensory processing disorder can feel anxiety, unsettled, and even experience pain because of tactile sensitivity. Those with sensory processing disorder or autism can’t always tolerate hugging or cuddling.
This is where a weighted blanket can be beneficial. By employing firm but gentle pressure, a weighted blanket presents the same benefits of a hug without having the user receive unwelcome or unpleasant body contact from another person.
10 Facts About Weighted Blankets for Health Conditions
Weighted blankets have been beneficial for those with sensory processing disorder and related conditions like autism, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, they can help with several health issues, including those things that nearly everyone has had to deal with at some point.
Deep touch pressure therapy promotes the release of oxytocin, making it useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
Here’s the Top 10 Weighted Blanket Facts:
1) They Ease Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder comes in two forms- hypersensitive or hyposensitive. Hypersensitive, or oversensitive, people are overly sensitive to stimuli and can become overwhelmed by noise, crowds, or touching.
Hyposensitive people can have trouble sensing noises, touch, and other stimuli. In some cases, people with undersensitivity also have a very high pain tolerance.
Hypersensitive people can enjoy a weighted blanket because it is an object and not a person and easy to control the effect. You can control how much or how little touch you experience and where you feel you can tolerate pressure. Hyposensitive people will appreciate that they have an object that provides the firm, gentle pressure they want on demand.
2) They Offer Autism Assistance
Dr. Temple Grandin stated that “Deep touch pressure [...] is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling… Autistic children will often seek out deep pressure sensations.”
A weighted blanket mimics this therapy, which can assist to calm those with autism.
3) They Can Reduce Anxiety
There are roughly 40 million anxiety sufferers in America, making it one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in the nation. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety is very treatable. However, they also report that only 36.9% of sufferers get the treatment they require.
Anxiety makes everyday life extremely difficult, and it can make sleeping especially troublesome. A study looked at the vital signs of adults using weighted blankets and found that 63% of participants said they felt less anxious while using them.
The study also recorded a 33% drop in electrodermal activity, which is a response generated by the sweat glands frequently in response to stress. Those with anxiety often feel “exposed” when laying prone and a weighted blanket can help to ease stress and finally get a good night’s sleep.
As an anxiety sufferer myself, I love the feeling of the weighted blanket when I’m going to bed.
4) They Can Help with ADHD
Temple University researchers found that 95% of ADHD participants in a study improved when they received sensory intervention. The interventions included deep pressure touch and differing strenuous exercise. One researcher stated, “We found significant improvement in sensory avoiding behaviors, tactile sensitivity, and visual-auditory sensitivity in the group that received treatment.”
If you’re presenting using deep pressure touch therapy, using a weighted blanket could continue to provide you with the benefits at home whenever you need.
5) They Assist with Sleepless Nights
Most Americans don’t get enough sleep, as we talked about here. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation stated that 45% of people regularly get “poor or insufficient sleep.” According to the Sleep Health Foundation, a third of adults suffer from insomnia.
Scientific research indicates that deep touch pressure can create a calm, peaceful feeling that minimizes insomnia. In Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 78% of participants in a weighted blanket study reported that employing a 30-pound weighted blanket made them feel calmer.
6) They Minimize Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome causes people to experience frequent, sometimes constant uncomfortable sensations in the legs that can keep them awake. It’s described several ways, including “pins and needles” and “creepy crawly.”
Worst of all, the only way to feel some semblance of relief is to move your legs — hence the name. When symptoms occur at night, which is very often, people can spend hours tossing and turning.
Weighted blankets can help to ease symptoms by applying steady, even pressure around the legs. And thanks to those oxytocin benefits, those with restless leg may also feel calmer and less anxious, which encourages better, more restful sleep.
7) They Can Ease the Pain of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed chronic pain disorder. There is a range of symptoms, like comprehensive pain and increased sensitivity on at least 11 of the 18 pain points throughout the body.
People can go years, even decades, without proper treatment. There are roughly 5 million fibromyalgia sufferers in America, but experts say there are probably several more who still aren’t diagnosed.
A therapy shown to help ease symptoms is myofascial release, which uses movements of firm but gentle pressure over the fibromyalgia pain points. Weighted blankets can mimic this pressure.
8) They Are Better Than Ever Now
People don’t want their things to look medical or poorly made. They want beautiful items that also provide the benefits they’re looking for. That’s where the new models of weighted blankets are rising to the challenge.
They’re being made with premium materials and look beautiful. The Malouf Anchor Blanket combines luxury finishes with the proven science we’ve discussed to provide the grounded, calm feeling these blankets are known for.
The Anchor Weighted Blanket is also available in two sizes and three weights per size. A throw size that comfortably covers one sleeper, and a Queen that can cover two. However, you can certainly get the Queen and use it as a single person.
9) They Work Great with Massage Chairs
The benefits of massage are many and massage chairs allow you to bring those benefits right into your home where you can access them on your schedule. When you’re looking for a calm, de-stressing experience from your massage, top it off with a weighted blanket.
You’ll be increasing the oxytocin-generating effects and providing yourself with the utmost in relaxation when you have a set time frame that you can devote to getting a massage. If you’ve only got 15 minutes, this helps you to make the most of them.
10) They Provide Gentle Sleep Relief for Anyone
Everyone experiences sleep issues at some point in their lives. It’s, unfortunately, a common fact about being human. Another fact, however, is that we need regular, high-quality sleep to perform at our best.
A weighted blanket can help you to increase the number of good sleep nights and keep any insomnia or nighttime restless at bay. Including a weighted blanket in your nighttime routine and environment can make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Imagine climbing into bed with a hot cup of chamomile tea, dimming the lights, and wrapping up in a weighted blanket in your blissfully cool room. Now that sounds like the perfect way to wind down.
Weighted blankets are truly worth the hype and you can check out the Malouf Anchor Weighted Blanket coming to our shop now. It’s sure to be a top seller.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us over the phone or through email at email@example.com. We’re always here to help you enjoy the best possible sleep each and every night.