Weighted blankets were developed based on the principles of sensory integration therapy, discovered by A. Jean Ayres. The idea behind this theory is that the way our bodies regulate physical sensations affect our mental behaviors and emotions. Therefore, by implementing the use of an item which produces a specific type of sensory experience for an individual, you could change the way they feel.
Following the discovery of sensory integration therapy, occupational therapists began toying with different ways to incorporate it into their sessions. What they learned was that by adding weight to clothing, or a blanket, they could change the way an individual felt in terms of anxiety or mental distress.
Weighted blankets have become a staple in the world of anxiety therapy and special needs care. They help those with insomnia, autism, ADHD, and a variety of other disorders. For a closer look at the way that weighted blanket therapy works, read on below.
Weighted Blankets and Anxiety
Weighted blankets treat anxiety in multiple ways, including the introduction to a safe and secure environment. Weighted blankets distribute small pouches of poly-fil beads which create a slight pressure against the user. This pressure stimulates the production neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. Serotonin is one of the natural chemicals your body produces to ease stress and anxiety, and promote happiness.
Some individuals who suffer from chronic anxiety disorders have lower than average production rates for serotonin and dopamine. Using a weighted blanket can help to rectify this issue. The reason these natural chemicals are produced when using the blanket is because the blanket simulates the sensation of a hug. Studies have shown that human interactions such as cuddling and hugging assist in the production of healthy serotonin levels.
Weighted Blankets and Sleep
Serotonin doesn’t just ease anxiety, it also helps promote healthy sleeping patterns. Studies have proven that there is a connection between neurotransmitters and sleep. This means that by using a weighted blanket at bedtime, you can increase sleep time, and decrease interruptions in sleep patterns. This is especially important because anxiety, depression, and insomnia have been linked.
Weighted blanket therapy works well for those who suffer from insomnia, because it creates a protective barrier, increases serotonin levels, and makes it easier to forget the hundreds of thoughts swimming in your head and simply focus on the weight you feel. Sleep disorders can affect individuals of any age and gender, making weighted blankets a helpful tool for children and adults with sleeping issues.
Weighted Blanket Therapy and Special Needs
Weighted blanket therapy works well for children who have been diagnosed with autism or ADHD. This is because the blanket imitates the pressure of human touch, without imposing actual physical and social touch on the child. The evenly distributed pressure provides a tangible object and sensation on which the child can concentrate.
Weighted blankets come in many sizes and shapes, making it easy to take them on the go, or pack them in a school bag. Many children with autism have trouble dealing with change; whether it’s the difference between home and a classroom, or a move to a new house, using a weighted blanket can make these transitions easier on the child.
Weighted Blankets and Babies
Weighted blanket therapy isn’t reserved for disorders and special needs, it can also be used to ease fussy babies and misbehaving toddlers. Blankets designed for babies and toddlers are lighter in weight than those designed for adults. The suggested weight measurement is 10% of your idea weight based on height and BMI. Babies, however, may use blankets lighter than their 10%.
Weighted swaddling blankets and toddler sized blankets can be easily packed into a diaper bag to use on the go. These blankets help to calm tantrums, and sooth children who are upset. Using a weighted blanket on your baby promotes their ability to self sooth by providing the sensation of being held, without the need to hold and cuddle at every tear.
While weighted blankets are a safe and natural alternative to some pharmaceutical treatments for the above mentioned disorders and symptoms, they should not be used to replace a doctor’s prescription without that physician’s consent.
For more information on weighted blanket therapy, and how sensory integration therapy might help your child, visit our main site at www.anxietyblanket.com. You can also check back for updates and new blogs about weighted blankets and their many uses.