Children and adults with ADHD can have a hard time falling asleep. If you experience the same, a good night’s sleep may seem alien to you.
The good news is the Deep Touch Pressure therapy of weighted blankets may help.
Deep Touch Pressure therapy - which feels like one big gentle hug - helps to calm your central nervous system, reducing your stress levels and improving relaxation. This makes it easier for you to sleep and stay asleep for longer.
What’s the evidence?
A study in 2010 found that 21 children diagnosed with ADHD took less time to fall asleep when using a 'Ball Blanket’ - a type of weighted blanket. The researchers noted that the children's attention and activity levels improved by 10% after using the blanket for a short period of time, because of the relaxation effect.
Another study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in 2001 found that children with attention difficulties at school exhibited an 18-25% improvement in their attention span when they wore weighted vests.
More research has found that Deep Touch Pressure therapy can reduce anxiety in dental environments, and it may also improve the quality of life of patients with an anxiety disorder or restlessness. Since many people with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder, this suggests weighted blankets may be beneficial.
Of course, all these studies are transferrable between children and adults, because ADHD is a lifelong disorder with ongoing symptoms.
You probably also won’t be surprised that many occupational therapists recommend weighted blankets to help people with ADHD feel calmer. This much is written about by the mental health charity Understood.
But there are other reasons why these blankets can improve the quality and duration of your sleep - whether you have ADHD or not.
How a weighted blanket for ADHD helps you sleep better:
- Comfortable materials
The soft and silky cover of the Koala Blanket is designed to keep you comfortable all year round. Koala's blankets also have smaller pockets than other brands, which keeps the weighted beads evenly distributed so they don't get bunched up in the corners. This keeps the weight of the blanket consistent across your body, so you continue to benefit from Deep Touch Pressure therapy.
Although you might think that a weighted blanket will be too warm for the summer months, Koala's is perfect in all seasons. That's because one side of the blanket cover is Silky Bamboo to help you feel cool during those warmer nights, and the other side is Ultra Soft Mink to keep you cosy and warm in the winter.
- Customise it to your weight
You need a blanket that’s heavy enough to simulate Deep Touch Pressure therapy, but not so heavy that it feels uncomfortable. Occupational therapists usually recommend that a weighted blanket should be approximately 10% of your body weight.
Our weighted blanket is available in two weights: 6.8kg or 9kg.
To make sure you get the full therapeutic benefits, we recommend you choose a blanket that’s between 7% and 13% of your weight.
- Customise it to your bed
We recommend you choose a smaller blanket (48 x 78 inches) if you have a single-size bed, or a larger blanket (60 x 80 inches) if you have a double- or king-size bed. Both weight options are available for the small and large Koala Blanket.
Are weighted blankets suitable for children with ADHD?
Unfortunately, Koala does not sell weighted blankets for children at present. However, children between the age of 10 and 12 could benefit from the blanket, providing the blanket weighs no more than 13% of their body weight.
Tips on how to sleep better with a weighted blanket if you have ADHD
We want you to get the best results from your weighted blanket. So, here are some simple lifestyle changes to help you sleep better:
- Get away from technology before you go to bed
The National Sleep Foundation in the U.S states that using a technological device such as your phone or a laptop before bed can make it harder for your body to get ready for sleep.
This is because electronic devices can disrupt your circadian rhythms (your body's internal clock), which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
If you’re curled up in your weighted blanket but you’re not quite ready to get to sleep, try reading a book instead. The Sleep Council has found that people who read in bed are more likely to sleep very well than those who watch TV in bed.
- Try to go to bed at the same time each night (so you wake up at the same time each morning)
You probably know how hard it is to sleep when you're not really that tired. You may find it easier to sleep if you wake up at the same time each morning and go to bed at the same time each night. In other words, make a routine.
- Make sure the room is dark
Too much light in your room tells your body that it needs to stay awake, so try to make it as dark as possible. You might want to consider a sleeping mask to block out any early-morning light, or some blackout curtains.
- Consider a sleeping aid
Although sleeping medication can cause side effects and won't solve the root cause of your poor sleep, it may help reduce the symptoms of hyperactivity to help you get the full benefits of your weighted blanket for ADHD. Nytol is a good sleeping aid, but before starting any new medication, please consult your doctor.
- Avoid caffeine in the evening and at night
Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system and can make it harder for you to fall asleep. Remember that caffeine isn’t just present in tea and coffee; it’s also in many sodas and energy drinks as a flavouring.