Does a Weighted Blanket Really Help a Child With Insomnia?
Can weight blankets really solve a child's insomnia problem? Many parents have such questions. Gravity blankets are known to be familiar to adults, but whether they can be used in children still needs to be understood. Below we bring you the relevant articles.
Let’s be honest … as moms, we will do just about anything to get our kids to sleep. Sleep is what makes a parent’s world go ’round. We need good sleep, and we desperately need our kids to get good sleep, too. Recently, I’ve begun reading about how a weighted blanket may be able to help kids sleep better.
While there are lots of natural remedies that can help kids sleep, like tart cherry juice, breathing techniques, and inversions (read more about those tricks here), weighted blankets provide restful sleep on a different level.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are specially made blankets that contain a weighted material, usually some kind of plastic bead, sewn into a grid design to be dispersed evenly throughout the blanket, between two layers.
Blankets can be made in differing weights to accommodate the size of the user. Even small children can enjoy lighter weighted blankets, while bigger kids will need heavier blankets.
Why Use One?
Weighted blankets have been shown to be beneficial for anyone having trouble sleeping, as well as those suffering from anxiety. They are an especially non-invasive way to help children who have trouble falling asleep.
Who Needs One?
Weighted blankets especially benefit those suffering from anxiety or insomnia. They are particularly helpful for children on the autism spectrum, who crave touch and pressure but are unable to tolerate typical physical touch from loved ones.
These children become sensory-seeking because, although they need stimulation, they cannot endure hugs and squeezes that neurotypical kids enjoy. Temple Grandin, a noted animal expert and advocate for those on the autism spectrum (and autistic herself) recalls the sensation of being touched as a child:
I would stiffen and pull away when people touched me, and I was oversensitive to both touch and sound…. (source).
Temple went on to complete a study of a device she built, called the “Squeeze Machine,” which exerted deep touch pressure to users. The study found that deep touch pressure benefited children with autism and ADHD by calming them. It also reduced self-injuring and stimulatory behaviors.
Studies have also found that babies, especially those born prematurely, benefit from deep touch pressure. As for the calming effects of a weighted blanket for sleep, Temple reports: “A high functioning autistic woman stated, ‘I need heavy blankets on me to sleep well, or else my muscles won’t calm down.'” (source).
Weighted blankets provide the calming touch those on the spectrum need, in a way they can receive it.
Can Weighted Blankets Benefit Neurotypical Children?
While it may seem that weighted blankets are clearly a help for children on the spectrum who need the calming effect of the weights, weighted blankets can benefit all children.
Parents have reported that, despite the blankets being originally designed to benefit children on the autism spectrum and with sensory processing disorder, their children without such a diagnosis have experienced extraordinary benefits from using a weighted blanket, primarily in the form of better sleep.
A writer for Forbes Magazine reports: “When word got out among parent friends at my son’s school that weighted blankets were turning moody 10-year-olds into well-rested angels, everyone started tucking in.” He goes on to say his 10-year-old son began sleeping more soundly and waking up happier and more focused after regularly using a weighted blanket, and that other parents reported similar results. (source).
How Weighted Blankets Work
The pressure from a weighted blanket actually affects the brain, causing it to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which improve mood and induce a calming effect.
For jittery kids who spend all day at school or too much time indoors during cold winter months, a weighted blanket may be just the trick to calm nervous energy before bed and help to prolong deep sleep. The deep touch pressure provided by weighted blankets calm the nervous system as well, which is necessary for good sleep.
How to Find a Good Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets have become common enough that you can find them easily online.
Weight blankets not only solve sleep problems for children, but also provide good sleep for adults. Weight blankets are already very popular in 2018, and wholesale weighted blankets have become a lucrative business for many people. 2019 is to be expected, and weight blankets will benefit many more.