Does a weighted blanket help calm anxiety?
Thursday, January 27, 2022
Weighted blankets have become a popular purchase in recent years as many find the blankets help promote sleep, calm anxiety and help with relaxation. The blankets weigh between 4 to 30 pounds and are made with heavy fabrics. The extra weight in these blankets adds pressure that mimics a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation.
Deep pressure stimulation uses pressure and weight to relax the nervous system as it has been shown to boost the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that maintains a person's mood and feelings of happiness. An increase in serotonin has been shown to relieve anxiety and stress. There's also evidence that deep touch pressure reduces cortisol (stress) levels. The relaxation benefit from lessening anxiety can help ease pain, improve one's mood and reduce stress, like the benefits of massage therapy. When wrapping the weighted blankets around the body, the same pressure is experienced. For many people who have anxiety, insomnia or autism, weighted blankets may provide more immediate relief than traditional therapies or medication. Research has shown that weighted blankets may help reduce symptoms and manage these conditions by producing a calming effect, and many users also improve their sleep quality.
Weighted blankets can be used to help kids and pets with anxiety, but there are some things you should consider. For kids, use a smaller, lighter-weight lap pad. Lap pads are more compact than a weighted blanket and can be placed over a child's lap while sitting at a desk or on the floor. The size makes them more accessible for a child to use safely. Children under 3 years old should not use weighted blankets or lap pads due to the risk of suffocation.
“Weighted blankets aren't for everyone,” said Thomas Rojewski, M.D., director of the Genesis Sleep Disorders Center. “Before using a weighted blanket, you should discuss it with your doctor. There are some health conditions that could be negatively impacted by these blankets.”
Your doctor may not recommend a weighted blanket if you are experiencing any of the following:
chronic health conditions
temperature regulation issues
If you and your doctor agree a weighted blanket may help you, select a blanket that's close to 10% of your body weight and one made from natural fibers, such as cotton. Blankets made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester can be much hotter.
Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.