Everyone is talking about weighted blankets right now. My teenage daughter asked for one for her birthday and my 80 year old mother-in-law wants one for her birthday. So what’s all the hype about? Why are weighted blankets so great and what are the benefits of weighted blankets for the Elderly population?
A Little History
Weighted blankets are not really new. They have just become more main stream lately.
Weighted blankets have been used for a long time for special needs populations. When I worked with kids as an Occupational Therapy Assistant 20 years ago, I used weighted blankets or lap pads and sometimes wighted vests to help kids on the autism spectrum to ground them and they also provide calming benefits for kids with ADHD. There are a number of therapeutic uses for the deep pressure provided by weighted blankets.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Weighted blankets provide deep pressure to the body which releases serotonin and dopamine to your neurotransmitters making you feel more relaxed and calm. The serotonin converts to melatonin which is your body’s natural sleep hormone. The effects are similar to those that come from getting a deep pressure massage.
Somewhere around the age of 65, earlier for some lucky folks and later for others, people retire from their career. Most people think that would be a huge reduction in stress levels. In reality our elders experience more stress than their younger counterparts as they face new health concerns, changes in living situations and loss of friends or loved ones.
Weighted blankets have been said to help reduce the symptoms of stress by reducing anxiety and improving heart rate and blood pressure. Many people choose to utilize weighted blankets as a way to feel calm and relaxed.
Weighted Blankets and Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome can affect men and women of all ages. It does impact the elderly at a higher rate than other age groups. People with restless leg syndrome experience an uncontrollable urge to move their legs. This can look like twitching or jumping in one or both legs. It can feel like an itchy or prickling feeling or an unpleasant crawling sensation.
The deep pressure provided by a weighted blanket can provide just the right wrapped or consistent amount of pressure to allow people to relax and eliminate some feelings associated with restless leg syndrome.
Fighting Depression With Weighted Blankets
Depression affects people across the globe and can be linked to a variety of health conditions. Although not a normal part of the aging process, depression is quite common in the elderly.
Depression can result in insomnia and many people find the calming feeling provided by a weighted blanket helps them settle down and get a good nights sleep despite their depression. This helps them to feel more refreshed to start the day.
Managing Alzheimer’s Symptoms Using a Weighted Blanket
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that progresses through stages affecting every aspect of a persons’ life. Cognition including memory and behavior are affected. As Alzheimer’s progresses a persons’ ability to carry out Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) is impacted. Dressing, bathing and self care are impacted as well. People in all stages of Alzheimer’s can be restless, anxious, paranoid and have difficulty sitting or laying still.
Weighted blankets are being used to help Alheimer’s residents by providing that deep pressure which can reduce their anxiety and help improve mood and promote calmness and improve sleep.
Let’s Talk About Sleep
Everyone needs to sleep. The quality of sleep we get has a huge impact on many aspects of our lives. If we aren’t getting enough sleep, or enough good sleep it will affect our mood, attitude, job, relationships and our physical and mental well-being. Sleep is important. And as we age it becomes more and more difficult to get good night of normal sleep.
We have already determined that weighted blankets can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, certain symptoms and conditions. For these reasons weighted blankets provide a better nights sleep with less tossing and turning.
Can Everyone Use a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are not for everyone. Infants should not use weighted blankets. Other conditions which may be contra indicated are:
- post surgery
- some respiratory issues
- circulatory problems
- temperature regulation problems
- Anyone who can not remove the blanket themselves (including infants)
Don’t completely eliminate the idea of using a weighted blanket if you have one of the conditions or ailments listed above. You should talk with your doctor and make sure that with your specific health concern a weighted blanket is considered safe.
There are a number of things to consider before saying yes to purchasing any weighted blanket.
- Weight – roughly 10% of body weight is best. If you fall between weights, go with the heavier blanket.
- Fabric – Choose something that you like the feel of and the look of
- Cover – some blankets come with a removable cover for ease of washing
- Size – Blankets come in lap size, or made to cover any size bed.
- Filling – beans or beads are most common and provide good pressure.
- Stitching – smaller squares or pockets keep beads quiet and in place better
- Washability – glass beads or poly pellets are washable
- Price – prices range from $40 up to $300 depending mostly on size, weight and overall quality
After purchasing many weighted blankets as gifts for family members, I consider myself an expert on weighted blankets. See which weighted blanket I purchased for myself and learn why it is my Top Rated Weighted Blanket for the Elderly and people of all ages.
As you can see, there are many benefits to using a weighted blanket. Sleep is a large part of our lives. We should be spending about one third of every day sleeping in order take care of our physical and mental well-being. The benefits outlined above all contribute to helping people relax, reduce stress, and most importantly improve sleep.
Incorporating a weighted blanket into your sleep environment or the environment of someone you know who is struggling to achieve or maintain sleep will have a positive impact.
I have purchased three blankets now, one for my daughter and one for my mother- in-law, as I mentioned earlier and most recently one for my husband and I. We are all enjoying them immensely! And I have a couple more to purchase with the holidays coming up (I think they make great gifts!). Read about my #1 choice for a weighted blanket so you are certain to get a good quality blanket for a fair price.
If you are older yourself or have an elderly person you care for a weighted blanket may be the perfect way to get more restorative and refreshing sleep on a consistent basis.
I welcome your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment below.