Weighted blankets have become all the rage lately, with people from two to eighty two claiming the extra wait helps calm their anxiety and stress when it gets to be too much to manage.
We even use them on our dogs on days like the 4th of July! The question is, how sturdy is the science behind them, do they really work, and should you invest in one for your home?
Weighted blankets, or gravity blankets, are filled with pellets or other materials that can make them weigh up to 10 pounds. Most recommend getting one that’s 10% of your body weight, so that’s important to remember if you’re buying one for a child.
According to doctors like Dr. Susan Lipkins of Real Psychology, though, there’s not a whole lot of research on if or how they work.
“The concept is that the sensation may send messages to the brain that increases a sense of well-being.
Some research suggests that it is similar to pressure massages, which have been shown to help the brain calm down.”
Others, like Dr. Kristin Addison-brown, owner of NEA Neuropsychology, think the effects could have to do with the same principles as swaddling a baby – it makes us feel safe and secure, which naturally brings down anxieties.
Both agree, however, that there is no peer-reviewed research on the product.
“Right now, the empirical evidence is pretty weak.
I did see one randomized controlled trial where children with autism used a weighted blanket versus a regular blanket, but that trial didn’t show any objective differences.”
Everyone in the study, children and adults, preferred the weighted blanket to a regular blanket.
“There’s something inherently pleasing to us about gravity blankets, but we don’t exactly know why and any real objective measures are not reflecting back.”
There are people who feel suffocated and trapped by the blankets, so they’re not for everyone. They’ve also been known to cause panic attacks in some, and at least two deaths (a 7-month-old and a 9-year-old) are attributed to their use.
Most psychologists, including the two quoted in this article, believe that attempting to address the reasons for your anxiety is the best way to relieve it and get some rest, but if you want to give the weighted blankets a try, they don’t see any harm as long as you’re using them safely.
“If you can afford it, I don’t see any real harm in it.
Though I would be very careful using it with people who may have any kind of muscle weakness.
You also wouldn’t want to have a child or baby in the bed with you.
Just use caution and common sense.”
As with everything in life, use your head and follow your gut.
And you know, try to get some rest. We could definitely all use a bit more of that.