Do Weighted Blankets Really Help With Anxiety?

Weighted blankets, whose heard of these before? I personally hadn’t heard of them up until last year. Nor had I known that they had the power to help reduce anxiety!

Weighted blankets are specially designed to contain a weighted material, often some type of plastic bead that’s been sewn into the blanket in a grid design, dispersing pressure evenly throughout. They come available in a variety of weights and sizes to suit the individual needs of each user.

Now, even though you may have never used a weighted blanket before, you may actually have experienced a similar effect, for instance, when you’ve piled a heap of sheets, covers, and doonas on top of yourself in winter to keep warm. It feels quite “heavy” under all those blankets (and you feel cosy, warm and secure, right?). When you’re being hugged by someone, this also has a similar effect to that of a weighted blanket.

How Weighted Blankets Work

The underlying science behind weighted blankets is Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), it’s basically gentle pressure distributed around the body (making you feel safe and secure – kind of recreating the feeling of when you were in the womb). The pressure from a weighted blanket has been shown to affect the brain, causing it to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which help to improve mood and bring about a calming feeling in the body. These blankets also help in reducing activity in the nervous system, causing the body to calm down, which is essential for good sleep.

Weighted vests are another tool designed to help with anxiety when you’re on the go. They’re like weighted blankets you can wear anywhere, anytime.

The “heavy” feeling weighted blankets provide brings a feeling of calm, relaxation, security and safety.

Weighted blankets were originally used by those with special needs, like autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder, as they craved touch and pressure but are often unable to tolerate general physical touch from family and loved ones. Weighted blankets help to provide the calming touch that those on the autism spectrum need, in a way they can tolerate.

Now, weighted blankets are used by many to help with anxiety and sleeping problems, like insomnia.

What to Look for in a Good Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets have become quite a common essential, so they’ll be easy to find online.

Here are some things to look for when choosing your own:

  • Begin by looking for a fabric you’ll love; many are made with a soft fleecy material.
  • Choose a weight that’s best for you; as a rule of thumb, blankets should typically weigh between 5-10% of your body weight plus 0.5-1 extra kilo (this can vary though).
  • Choose a blanket size that works for you; they can range from a small lap blanket to a full bed cover (depending on your need).

DIY Weighted Blanket

You can even make your own! Most pre-made blankets contain plastic beads, and plastic is something I’m not a fan of. So, this can be a great way to avoid plastics and their toxins, simply substitute the plastic with alternative weights like rice or beans. Now, if you do opt to use these alternative fillers, it’ll make it non-washable, so just keep that in mind. Glass beads can be another alternative, and allow your blanket to be machine-washed!

Using glass beads instead of plastic is a more eco-friendly, toxin-free alternative, and means your weighted blanket is still machine-washable!

All you need is:

  • Fabric: a soft fabric like 100% organic cotton fleece is perfect. You’ll need to figure out the size you’ll need and plan from there, making sure you have enough for two layers
  • Rice, beans or glass beads for weight (note: not washable if using rice or beans)
  • Thread

Instructions:

  1. Measure out the fabric and cut to scale, ensuring the layers are even.
  2. Thread the bottom and two sides of the fabric together, tucking in the edges to create a hem. Then, using a fabric pencil, draw out the grid design on the fabric.
  3. Divide the glass beads, rice, or beans up by the number of boxes in your grid and measure out how many will go in each box.
  4. Sew the vertical lines of the grid from the bottom hem to just below the top of the blanket, leaving a couple of inches at the top. Then pour enough beads in each row for one box.
  5. Sew together the horizontal line over each scoop of beads in the blanket to create the first row.
  6. Repeat until you get to the top of the blanket, then finish the vertical lines at the top and hem remaining edge to finish the blanket!

You can find a more detailed tutorial, with pictures included, here.

As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. It’s important to check with a doctor before taking this or any new product, especially if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing. Be sure to check ingredients to make sure there is no risk of an allergic reaction to it.

Have you used a weighted blanket before? What was your experience with it? It’s always great to get a variety of opinions and reviews.

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa

Sources:

Ames, Casey. (January 24, 2017). Do Weighted Blankets Work For Anxiety?. Harkla. Retrieved from https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/weighted-blankets-anxiety

Wells, Katie. (June 18, 2018). Can a Weighted Blanket Transform Your Kids’ Sleep?. Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/130140/weighted-blanket/