why do weighted blankets work
Weighted blankets are a good solution to insomnia, which has been proven in the United States and many countries around the world. Why can weighted blankets have a professional effect? does it really work? Some of the following surveys will give you the answer.
Research in Adults with Insomnia
Perhaps the best evidence to date comes from a study published in 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders. This study included 31 adults with chronic insomnia. Their sleep was tracked for one week with their usual bedding, then two weeks with a weighted blanket, and then one more week with their usual bedding again.
Four out of five study participants said they liked the weighted blanket. Those in this group slept longer and spent less time awake in the middle of the night while using the weighted blanket, sleep testing showed. Study participants also said they found it easier to settle down to sleep with the weighted blanket. Plus, they reported getting better sleep and feeling more refreshed the next morning.
The theory behind weighted blankets is that they may work, in part, by providing firm, deep pressure stimulation. “The pressure provides a reassuring and cocooning feeling,” says study coauthor Gaby Badre, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Gothenburg and medical director of the sleep disorders clinic (SDS Kliniken) in Gothenburg, Sweden.
In addition, Badre says that the weighting material inside the blanket produces a lighter, stroking-like tactile sensation when you move. “This tactile stimulation, amplified by movements, even if small, may be the equivalent of a caress,” says Badre. It may stimulate the release of neurotransmitters and affect nervous system activity in ways that decrease overarousal and anxiety.
Other Research on Weighted Blankets
Further evidence on weighted blankets comes from research in kids with various mental health concerns.
One study looked at 42 children (ages 8 to 13), half of whom had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The children’s sleep was tracked by sleep testing and parent diaries for four weeks, including two weeks of using a weighted blanket. For kids with ADHD, the weighted blanket reduced the time it took to fall asleep and the number of middle-of-the-night awakenings to a level comparable to children without ADHD.
Research in 73 young people (ages 5 to 16) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and severe sleep problems compared a weighted blanket to an identical blanket without the extra weight. Based on sleep testing and parent diaries, the weighted blanket didn’t improve their sleep. Yet kids and parents preferred the weighted blanket. They may have been picking up on a benefit the researchers didn’t measure. But because they could tell which blanket was heavier, they may also have been swayed by stories on social media and in the press touting weighted blankets for kids with ASD.
For now, we’re left with more questions than answers about the benefits of weighted blankets for people with sleep issues. “There is much more research needed in this regard,” says Courtney Golding, Ph.D., a sleep psychologist at Spectrum Health Sleep Medicine in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Weighted blankets calm anxiety, according to science.
Blankets have been historically used in treatment for children with autism, but research shows their benefits extend to other disorders too. A small pilot study done in 2006 showed that more than three-quarters of them preferred the blanket as a method to calm down, and more than half—63 percent—reported having lower levels of anxiety after using the blanket. Another study published in 2015 found that a weighted blanket lengthened average sleep time and decreased disruptive movement of people suffering from insomnia. Study subjects also reported that they "liked sleeping with the blanket, found it easier to settle down to sleep and had an improved sleep, where they felt more refreshed in the morning."
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