Should You Use a Weighted Blanket? How It Helps Anxiety, Insomnia & More

Nothing beats curling up in bed at night with your most comfortable blanket. Well, nothing except perhaps lying down with a weighted blanket. Those who own weighted blankets swear by them but should you believe the hype? If you’re wondering who benefits from using a weighted blanket, research shows these soothing blankets can help people with anxiety, autism, insomnia and more. Here’s what the science says about how it can help these conditions.

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Anxiety

The reason weighted blankers are so soothing is that they provide deep touch pressure. Deep touch pressure mimics that relaxing sensation you get when being hugged, caressed or held. Weighted blankets can also help mimic these sensations, which in return may help soothe anxiety.

In one study of 32 adults receiving inpatient mental health care, more than 60% said the blankets eased their anxiety and more than 75% said they liked using the weighted blanket to calm down.

If you’re looking for a blanket to try, The Good Life Center Yourself Dual-Sided Weighted Blanket comes in a variety of weights ranging from 5 to 20. It’s a two-sided throw that regulates your temperature to keep you cool and dry. But if you’re cold you can flip it over to its fleece side to keep you warm and cozy.

Anxiety Related to Cancer Treatments

Weighted blankets can also help reduce anxiety in those with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. Oftentimes, cancer patients have to sit for hours while they receive their chemotherapy treatments. Sitting under a weighted blanket during those treatments can help ease anxiety as well as keep those with cancer warm in chilly hospital rooms. A weighted blanket would be a perfect gift for a loved one diagnosed with cancer.

Autism

Deep pressure is often used by occupational therapists to help reduce stress and anxiety in kids and adults with autism. To get these deep pressure benefits, occupational therapists may use physical techniques, weighted vests or weighted blankets during therapy. Fortunately, weighted blankets aren’t a tool you can only use in therapy. You can buy a weighted blanket to get its benefits in the comfort of your own home.

A survey study of autistic adults showed that weighted blankets improved sensory issues, sleep and stress. While the research is still out on whether weighted blankets have a measurable effect on children with autism, parents and kids said they preferred using the blankets over not having them.

Insomnia

If you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re feeling anxious or depressed, a weighted blanket may help. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that weighted blankets can help ease insomnia in those with anxiety and depression as well as people with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The blankets also improved daytime symptoms and productivity.

When buying a weighted blanket, you’ll want to pick one that is 10% of your body weight for maximum benefits. That means, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll want to pick a blanket that weighs 15 pounds. Weighted blankets are typically not recommended for children under the age of ten, people with sleep apnea or those with other respiratory conditions that make it hard to breathe.

If you’re debating whether weighted blankets are worth the investment, rest assured there is research that supports the benefits you’ve been hearing about.

Your Parent Has Dementia: What to Talk to Their Doctor About

Make sure all their doctors are aware of all the medications she is taking.

Q: My mom is 94 and has dementia. She is taking a whole medicine cabinet-full of medications and I think they actually make her fuzzier. How should I talk to her various doctors about what she is taking and if she can get off some of the meds? — Gary R., Denver, Colorado

A: Many dementia patients are taking what docs call a "polypharmacy" — three or more medications that affect their central nervous system. And we really don't know how that mixture truly affects each individual person.

A new study in JAMA Network that looked at more than 1 million Medicare patients found almost 14% of them were taking a potentially harmful mix of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan, nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics such as Ambien or Sonata, and opioids. And almost a third of those folks were taking five or more such medications. The most common medication combination included an antidepressant, an antiepileptic, and an antipsychotic. Gabapentin was the most common medication — often for off-label uses, such as to ease chronic pain or treat psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.

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