Troubled sleepers have a new trend to try:
the weighted blanket. The idea behind these 5 to 25-pound blankets is that they apply the same calming pressure as a hug or cuddle. Weighted vests and blankets have traditionally been used as part of occupational therapy for autistic children to alleviate stress, anxiety, and sensory overload. But today, adults and even dogs are getting into the game.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Weighted blankets and vests offer a comforting experience known as proprioceptive or deep touch pressure. Research pioneered by Dr. Anna Jean Ayres and Temple Grandin has shown that deep touch pressure helps the brain to release the neurotransmitter serotonin, which aids in the regulation of some of its functions.
A 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health revealed that the use of a weighted blanket calmed subjects by reducing their anxiety levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. Since then, the use of weighted blankets is growing in popularity to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, and post-traumatic stress disorder.