Weighted blankets have been used in the scientific health and occupational therapy space for over a decade. Studies published in peer-reviewed journals date back to 2008 from a wide range of researchers: neuroscience, bio-engineering, physiology, behavioral health and occupational therapy. The findings are very promising and speak to the efficacy of a weighted blanket.
The basic premise behind weighted blankets is the power of Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation. “Deep pressure touch helps the body relax. Like a firm hug, weighted blankets help us feel secure, grounded and safe*.” Besides feeling comforted and relaxed, the following benefits have been scientifically shown in most studies done with weighted blankets:
- Naturally increase levels of relaxation with Serotonin and Melatonin release
- Help reduce stress and anxiety levels by lowering Cortisol levels
- Minimize fidgeting, anxiousness and other ADHD effects
- Sleep longer and better with a "warm hug" feeling
- Reduce symptoms of other sensory and sleep disorders including Insomnia, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Autism, Restless leg syndrome and others.
*(Psychology Today) Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201112/choosing-blanket-help-you-sleep
Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket
- Published in 2008 in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health
This research paper is the first exploratory study on the effectiveness of a 30 pound weighted blanket used on a heterogeneous, non-hospitalized volunteer sample.
Skin conductance is one of the most widely used quantitative metrics in psychophysiology research and is used as the measure of anxiety levels in this study. The test sessions were done in a 5 minute time frame.
The Results: 78% of participants reported a lower anxiety level after using the blanket versus not using the blanket.
Physiological Effects of Deep Touch Pressure on Anxiety Alleviation: The Weighted Blanket Approach
- Published in 2012 in Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering
This study aimed to prove the positive effects of deep pressure stimulation for reducing anxiety during a dentist appointment. A clinical trial was done on 15 patients who had no experience using a weighted blanket and were not placed under any anesthetic or sedation.
Each standard dental procedure was approximately 30 to 40 minutes per patient.
The Results: Parasympathetic activity (your “fight or flight”) response was significantly lowered by 10% with deep pressure stimulation during dental procedures.
Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia
- Published in 2015 in Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders
This systematic study’s objective was to see if using a weighted blanket had positive effects on alleviating chronic insomnia in adults. Each adult chose their own weighted blanket approximately 12% of their body weight.
A 4 week study was done in Sweden on each of the 31 adults aged 20-66 with chronic insomnia.
The Results: Most participants had on average 18% less tossing and turning, 7% longer sleep time and the majority of participants preferred to sleep with the weighted blanket than without.