Comment: Recently someone asked me about weighted blankets and whether they were worthwhile. Not knowing much about them, being a person who likes the air-condition on cold while I sleep with minimal covering I looked around for any information and came across this article in Popular Science, which is based on a systematic review published in the American journal of Occupational Therapy in 2020 – Links at end of post. The general conclusion is Weighted blankets may be an appropriate therapeutic tool in reducing anxiety; however, there is not enough evidence to suggest they are helpful with insomnia.
Occupational therapists frequently use weighted blankets for something called sensory integration therapy, which children who have trouble processing their senses—a trait that’s often linked with autism. Weighted blankets stimulate those patients’ senses of touch, helping their brains adapt to it. It’s thought this can help them better control their emotions and boost their mental health.
At least in the US, they’re also increasingly used in places like psychiatric wards, where they’re used as an alternative to other, more traditional methods such as medication or physical restraints.
“I watched people who were going to be put into restraints not have to be put into restraints because we offered them the blankets first,” says Annette Becklund, a therapist who has worked extensively in mental health hospitals.Kathryn Eron, a mental health researcher at Denver Health Medical Center in Colorado, says that their mental health facilities have been using blankets as an alternative to medication. “Usually the patients that have a higher level of anxiety like [a weighted blanket] and want to use it,” says Ashlie Watters, a researcher at Denver Health specializing in eating disorders. “Anecdotally, they say it is helpful.”
Stories like that have inspired researchers to begin investigating the effects of weighted blankets in a more methodical way…
Click for Popular Science Article