Did You Know Weighted Blankets Could Help With Anxiety? Here's How
Stress has become such a massive part of our lives that we're always looking for the next thing to ease it, ranging from acupuncture and exercise to aromatherapy. Since most of the remedies tend to be routines or procedures, it's a big deal when a promising product hits the market—as is the case for weighted blankets for anxiety, which have spiked in mainstream popularity as of late. These quilts filled with beads, sand, or otherwise were originally used in occupational therapy to help those with autism or other disorders; the focus on the senses is believed to help these individuals better control their behavior and emotions. "It's very much based in deep pressure helping to calm that arousal level in the system and to help with self-regulation," says Teresa May-Benson, an occupational therapist with the nonprofit Spiral Foundation.
Although more research needs to be done on the blankets' specific effectiveness in treating anxiety, a 2016 study found that those who wore a weighted blanket while getting wisdom tooth surgery had heightened activity in the part of the nervous system that indicates less stress. "I have many clients who suffer from anxiety who find weighted blankets helpful when we are working to calm down their nervous systems, thus relieving the symptoms of anxiety—accelerated heart rate, muscle tension, nervous stomach, etc.," says Julie De Santo, a licensed marriage and family therapist and somatic experiencing practitioner. She says some clients like the blankets just laid on their laps, others like it to cover their bodies, and some like to use them while sleeping (others report it makes them feel trapped). It's worth noting that at least two reported deaths of children have occurred that are related to weighted blankets, so please do not use them on or near your little ones.