People across all age groups have to cope with disorders like autism and anxiety. Coping with such health and mental conditions is definitely no cake walk, and the first casualty is sleep. Stress and anxiety over issues like career, family, illness, etc., can make you restless in bed and you may find yourself tossing from one side to another while others are sleeping peacefully. This may also lead to the development of insomnia eventually. If you cope with such issues, seeking expert medical help is an option. However, there are alternative methods that help you sleep peacefully without taking medications. One of these is using a weighted blanket.
Getting the basics of a sensory blanket right
You may wonder how just using specialized blankets can bring you relief from insomnia and mental health problems, which affect normal sleeping patterns. While using a heavy blanket is not exactly a replacement for extensively researched medical treatments and effective medications, there are decided benefits for sure. The weighted blanket therapy, alternately called as the deep touch therapy, is based on a core human behavior with a calming effect on the nerves. Clinical studies have shown that specific pressure points in human body get stimulated by touch and then the brain secretes serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter having a calming effect on nerves, thereby helping induce sleep.
The pressure exerted by a weighted blanket for anxiety simulates the pressure from hugging someone or stroking pets like dogs. This sensation soothes the nerves and instills a sense of calmness. Occupational therapists opine that light touches can alert the nervous system while deep pressure leads to a calming and relaxing effect.
The benefits for users – regardless of age
Deep touch pressure stimulation technique is used to aid kids coping with Spatial Processing Disorders and Auditory Processing Disorders. Such kids deal with sensory overload, which leads to anxiety and restlessness, and eventually, sleeping woes. Studies have revealed that using heavy blankets help such kids fall asleep quickly as they soothe their nerves and calms them overall. The calming effect induced by the usage of such blankets also helps in lowering blood pressure and heart rate. However, the benefits are not restricted to children alone. There are weighted blanket for adults that can benefit them in a similar manner.
Reasons to give it a try
It is true that using deep pressure stimulation through the use of the weighted blanket may not help every individual with autism or insomnia and/or related conditions. However, the main reason for trying it is there is hardly any side effect. Unless you have respiratory complications, you can use it without worries. These blankets can safely be used with typical therapies for autism, mental disorders affecting sleep, and general insomnia. Several studies have indicated that using weighted blankets can significantly bring down levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Getting the right kind of weighted blanket
These blankets tend to be heavier than typical blankets that you use at home. The weight can be within the range of 4 to 30 pounds. Adults may use weighted blankets in the 30-lb range to bring down anxiety levels and get sleep. However, you should think of your own body weight before buying a suitable heavy blanket. Some weighted blanket manufacturers recommend that adults should buy units that are not over 10 percent of their own body weight. If you are still unsure about it, talking to an occupational therapist can be of help. You can search online with phrases like weighted blanket autism to find the apt type of blankets for specific conditions.
The material of the heavy blanket also matters in this context. Ideally, you should buy such blankets made with materials like natural fiber. Polyester can be hotter and breathable pure cotton blankets are more ideal.