Weighted blanket therapy is a non-medicinal therapy that has been shown in studies to improve sleep quality and reduce the symptoms of insomnia and anxiety. In medicine, this therapy is called deep pressure stimulation.
Deep pressure stimulation is weighted blanket therapy. The weighted blanket is simply the device that enables the therapy to happen.
In hospitals, deep pressure stimulation is enabled with a squeeze machine. This machine places gentle, but firm, pressure on the body. This sensation replicates the feeling of being cuddled or hugged. It is a sensory device.
Studies have shown this to trigger an hormonal response, specifically an increase in melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and a decrease in cortisol output, which is the stress hormone directly linked to anxiety.
Weighted blanket therapy works in exactly the same way, only you can enable it anywhere where it’s convenient to wear your blanket.
Do weighted blankets work?
Weighted blankets work very well for a lot of people.
People often buy a weighted blanket because they struggle to sleep, suffer from insomnia, anxiety, or depression. Weighted blankets are not 100% effective for everyone, but they have helped a lot of people and they could help you too.
The science behind weighted blankets is sound. Deep pressure simulation is widely used in hospitals, and a weighted blanket merely replicates the same therapy at home, or on the go, to suit your lifestyle which is probably very busy.
Weighted blankets for Insomnia
A therapeutic weighted blanket can help with insomnia. People who suffer with insomnia often toss and turn in the night, unable to get comfortable. Weighted blankets are exceptionally comfortable. The gentle pressure they apply to the body has a calming effect that normal blankets can’t match [SciMedCentral].
Weighted blankets for anxiety
Weighted blankets have been intensely studied for treating anxiety, and most studies determine them to be a good treatment. Weighted blankets work by switching your autonomic nervous system into resting mode [Penn Medicine] which has a calming effect on the human body, helping reduce anxiety symptoms.
Weighted blanket for depression
Depression is a highly complex and poorly understood condition. Therapeutic blankets are proven to help people sleep better and reduce the symptoms of anxiety, which can indirectly improve depression. However, there are no studies to link depression with weighted blanket therapy, only real-life use cases of people who have found a weighted blanket helpful. So, our advice is to give it a go.
Weighted blankets for ADHD
Plenty of studies involving children with ADHD show promise here. In one study, children wearing weighted vests were shown to demonstrate an 18-25% improvement in attention span [American Journal of Occupational Therapy], and in another study, children with ADHD found it easier to fall asleep with a weighted blanket [PubLMed].
Weighted blankets for wellbeing
Of course, some people use a weighted blanket for their general well-being. Weighted blankets lift mood and make you feel relaxed. This double whammy is why many people who have a weighted blanket recommend them so highly. Simply having your blanket there, available, anytime, could improve your wellbeing.
Tips for weighted blanket therapy
Make the most of the therapy by following this advice:
How to buy it
A weighted blanket should weigh in at 8-13% of your body weight. 10% is a good number to aim for, but by no means is that set-in stone.
In this weight range, a weighted blanket will be noticeable but not unbearable. The aim with deep pressure stimulation is to apply gentle and even pressure on the body. A blanket that’s too heavy or too light won’t achieve this.
If you are buying a Koala Blanket, here’s what that means:
- If you weigh >85kg - choose the 9kg version
- If you weigh <85kg - choose the 6.8kg version
Stick to the weight recommendations above and you’ll be fine.
What about children?
Children under the age of 10 should not sleep with a weighted blanket because there is a suffocation risk. For older children and teenagers, the lightest weight should always be used, which is 6.8kg for the Koala Blanket.
Materials and fillings
The best filling for a weighted blanket is glass pellets, which are smaller than plastic pellets but denser, so they take up less space. This improves blanket comfort because you can’t feel the pellets moving around as you do.
The outer cover is also an important consideration because this is what your skin will come into contact with. The Koala Blanket has a reversible outer cover - one side is Ultra-Soft Mink; the other side is Silky Bamboo. In other words, there’s a warm and cool side for different seasons so you can always use it.
This versatility makes a massive difference to usability and comfort. Most other blankets don’t have this feature, but they if they have a removable outer cover, that’s the next best thing so you can change it up.
How to use it
You should wear your weighted blanket to bed every night and whenever you take a nap if possible. If you have a Koala Blanket, your blanket has a unique loop and tie system which enables you to fasten your blanket to your duvet. You should do this so the blanket stays in place during the night to maximise the therapy.
You can also wear your weighted blanket around the house as a comforter. Just drape it over you and go about your business as normal.
How long to use it
While there are plenty of documented cases where people find immediate relief with a weighted blanket, for others it can take longer. We really recommend using your weighted blanket for a minimum of 30-days before deciding if it has helped you, and if possible, 60 or even 90 days would be even better.This is because the hormonal changes in your body activated via deep pressure and weighted blanket therapy can take time. For some people it’s a sprint, but for others it’s a marathon. You should approach it with an open mind.