Weighted Blanket for Anxiety: Myth or Reality?
Posted on November 05 2018
"Use a weighted blanket for anxiety". This is a strong selling point that many companies use to sell their weighted blankets but, does a weighted blanket truly work for anxiety? In this post, we will explain what is a weighted blanket, what are the benefits of a weighted blanket for anxiety, and how to choose the right weight blanket according to your weight.
What is a weighted blanket?
Last winter, the weighted blankets became a trendy product in the USA - and worldwide. Sellers claimed that these blankets could help people fall asleep in a natural, healthy way, without using any prescription medicines, pills or drugs. This year, the popularity of weighted blankets is still on. But there is still a question that many people ask themselves: what is exactly a weighted blanket?
As the name itself says a weighted blanket is a blanket that is heavier than regular blankets, comforters or down quilts. Weighted blankets come in different weights, from light 4-pound blankets for kids up to 25 or 30-pound blankets for adults. Besides the weight variant, these blankets are thought to only cover a person's body, not the whole bed like most decorative throw blankets. Because of this, the twin/queen/king sizes of weighted blankets do not generally match the regular twin/queen/king size of regular blankets.
Materials of weighted blankets
Most of the weighted blankets in the market are made of 2 materials: polyester and cotton. At LANGRIA we will explain them briefly mentioning the main pros of each material:
Polyester weighted blankets: plush and minky weighted blankets are made of polyester. These blankets tend to be extremely soft and plushy, 2 favorite characteristics that people like in blankets. The downside is that polyester is not breathable, therefore the body heat won't dissipate while you sleep, which can make you feel too warm to sleep comfortably. Polyester weighted blankets are best for people that leave in a cold climate or for those that tend to be cold.
Cotton weighted blankets: weighted blankets made of 100% are super breathable and will imitate the temperature in the room. Cotton better releases body heat and also can absorb sweat, keeping the person sweat-free and in an optimal sleeping temperature. Cotton weighted blankets are best if you don't want to feel too warm during your sleep.
Sleeping disorder facts in the USA
Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Well, you are alone. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 1/3 of the adults in the USA, which is around 109 million people, do not get the recommended amount of hours of sleep. Sleep disorders are no joke and we tend to normalize this lack of sleep, which it is linked with many chronic conditions and diseases such as obesity, depression, heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes to name a few.
Sleeping disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, from anxiety to sensory processing disorder, stress and more. These sleeping disorders can be diagnosed and treated, therefore, we shouldn’t get used to it, but look for a solution to free ourselves from them.
There are many different ways in which people try to reconcile sleep: pills and medical prescriptions, beverages, follow a night routine, have plants for the bedroom to help sleep better. In recent years, people are relying on weighted blankets, which raises our following question
Can I use a weighted Blanket for anxiety and other sleeping disorders? The science behind weighted blankets
During the first half of 2017, when the first weighted blankets appeared in Kickstarter, a crowdfunding project's platform, they claimed that could treat a variety of sleeping issues such as insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, attention deficit, and more.
The big success of these blankets was imposing and many people relied on the weighted blanket for anxiety issues and insomnia disorders. But, are these results scientific? Can we truly use a weighted blanket for anxiety?
The basic principle of a weighted blanket is that it creates deep pressure touch all over the body, which is thought to escalate the serotonin levels (serotonin is a chemical nerve produced by cells that regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. The higher the levels of serotonin, the better the person will feel. The lower the levels of serotonin, the higher the chances to feel depressed and anxious) while plunging cortisol levels. As a result of this deep pressure stimulation, the nervous system calms down and the body relaxes easily. This is why some children with autism may respond well to the use of weighted blankets, as well as some adults can benefit from a weighted blanket for anxiety.
As per today, most studies focused on analyzing the effects of weighted blankets on anxiety or insomnia in kids or adults, but the number of studies isn't high enough to scientifically validate the claims that these blankets can help with anxiety and sleep disorders. However, among the existing studies, the conclusion is that weighted blankets led to a calmer sleep time and a fresher morning feeling.
In an interview with Health, Jeneane Solz, Ph.D. at Columbia University Medical Center, mentioned that although there aren't numbers to confirm the efficacy of the weighted blankets, using a weighted blanket for anxiety or insomnia may be helpful for some people and it is worth trying. In the same interview she added that most people that participated in different studies said that sleeping with weighted blankets was much better than sleeping with regular blankets because "it feels nice -like being cuddled, it is easier to settle down to sleep and you feel more refreshed in the morning".
Back in 2006, a small study about the effect of using a weighted blanket for anxiety concluded that a staggering 63% of participants felt lower anxiety symptoms after using the weighted blanket, and a 78% of participants reported that the blanket had a calming effect.
What the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders saw after the study they carried out in 2015 is that participants sleeping with weighted blankets increased their sleeping time while decreasing the nighttime movement. They also suggested that participants settle down to sleep easily using a weighted blanket and they also felt fresher in the morning.
How to choose the right weight of your blanket?
It is fundamental that you make sure you choose the right weighted blanket fit according to your size, weight and needs so you feel comfortable and can benefit from it best.
There is a worldwide rule for choosing the best-weighted blanket size:
10% of your body weight plus 1 pound
For example, if you weigh 140 pounds (around 63kg) you are good to go with a 15-pound weighted blanket. If you are getting a weighted blanket for anxiety disorders for your kid, and he weighs about 40 pounds (around 18kg), then the best-weighted blanket for him should be a 5-pound one.
Please find below a guidance table with the recommended blanket according to the weight of the person:
This table is only giving you the recommended weight, but there might be cases in which a person feels more comfortable with more or less weight than the recommended. But please, keep in mind that it is extremely important that no matter the weight selected for the blanket, kids and the elderly especially, should be able to remove the blanket by themselves to prevent oppression, stress or suffocation.
It seems that using a weighted blanket for anxiety or other sleeping disorders might help some kids and adults to calm down and settle for a better night of sleep and a refreshed morning feeling. However, there aren’t enough studies and data yet to scientifically confirm that weighted blankets are the solution to finish for once and for all with the sleeping problems that hit an astounding 18% of the adult population of the USA.
Have you ever tried a weighted blanket for anxiety? What do you think about weighted blankets? Let us know in the comment section below.