Ask The Pharmacist: 5 reasons you’ll want a weighted blanket
Suffering from sleep problems? One strategy that I think is helpful is to use a weighted blanket. These are an easy, completely natural way to improve your mood, lower stress levels, and fall asleep faster.
If you have sleep troubles, or your child has them from a chronic condition such as autism, then a weighted blanket might be useful. Weighted blankets are simply blankets that are specially designed to weigh much more than a typical quilt or comforter.
These blankets range in weight from as few as four pounds to well over 30 pounds, and most are filled with plastic beads or natural materials like rice or barley.
This extra heft means that the blanket puts pressure on your body when you sleep under it, and this mimics the feeling of close physical contact. In this way, weighted blankets create an atmosphere of physical intimacy and security that can improve your mood and sometimes soothe sensory disorders.
I think these are a great idea if you have akathisia or restless legs syndrome. If you’re still skeptical of the general health benefits these could offer, let me share five interesting facts.
- Using a weighted blanket can lower your stress levels and improve your ability to relax. It’s all from an increase in serotonin, which converts to melatonin, your sleep hormone.
- Reducing cortisol allows for a better night’s sleep. Studies support a reduction in this stress hormone.
- The modern world makes many people feel isolated. Wrapping yourself in a weighted blanket when you feel alone can increase oxytocin levels and provide instant calm.
- Could it help with attention problems? The gentle tactile feeling of deep touch pressure can work as a relaxer to significantly increase the concentration and performance of children with ADHD. There is also evidence that the extra sensory stimulation from a weighted blanket can help children improve their fine motor skills, especially if they have autism. In fact, these blankets were first invented as a stress aid for autistic children.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be challenging to manage but using a weighted blanket might help to control the symptoms. These heavier blankets boost your serotonin levels, which works to reduce symptoms of OCD, calm the mind and hopefully reduce compulsions.
For these same reasons, the blankets can also improve other emotional issues or cognitive problems connected to low serotonin levels, including aggression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. At our deepest core, we all want to be cuddled, right? It’s kind of like that!
There are some people that should not use a weighted blanket. Choosing the best weighted blanket for you is critical. It’s based on many factors. I’ve written a longer version of this article and if you’d like it just sign up for my free newsletter at suzycohen.com and I’ll email you.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.