Can Weighted Blankets Help Reduce Chronic Pain?
It’s always beneficial to have multiple tools in your arsenal for pain management. The tools can vary in effectiveness, convenience, and frequency of use, and be used according to the type of pain you’re experiencing at the time. Some of these options, such as a weighted blanket, can be used to minimize symptoms by increasing your quality of sleep each night.
What are weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets are specially designed blankets to have an evenly distributed weight by adding plastic poly-pellets within the liner. The weight is heavier than a traditional blanket, but not too heavy as to cause discomfort to the user. It gives just enough pressure to create the illusion of being comforted (such as a hug or being held) while sleeping.
What are the benefits of a weighted blanket?
Improved Sleep. According to a study published in 2015, the pressure of a weighted blanket reduces movement at night allowing the body to achieve higher-quality sleep and lengthened average sleep time. In addition, weighted blankets stimulate the production of serotonin which also triggers the release of melatonin - the chemical that promotes sleep and regulates the sleep cycle.
Reduces Anxiety. Weighted blankets provide deep pressure on nerve receptors throughout the body imitating an embrace. The pressure stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine - the neurotransmitters responsible for us feeling more relaxed and less stressed. By mimicking a hug while you sleep, we feel safe and grounded which in turn relaxes the nervous system and dials down our anxiety levels.
Weighted Blankets and Chronic Pain Sufferers: Many chronic pain sufferers are caught in the vicious cycle of not sleeping well because of pain and, in turn, have increased pain levels due to not sleeping well. Without restful sleep, individuals can experience a decrease in their pain tolerance and increase in pain intensity. Poor sleep can also worsen anxiety, depression, and the ability to concentrate which many chronic pain sufferers experience.
A weighted blanket may be able to break this cycle by improving the quality of sleep an individual is getting each night and helps to ease tense muscles, reduce stress, and decrease anxiety. Achieving restorative sleep allows the body to reset its response to pain and increase its pain threshold.
Can children use weighted blankets?
Yes, children can use weighted blankets, and studies have shown an improvement in symptoms of children living with autism, sensory disorders, ADHD and anxiety. However, the type of weighted blanket should be considered when using with a child. Too much pressure can cause a sense of feeling overwhelmed.
Caution: Weighted blankets should not be used on children under the age of three or anyone weighing less than 50 pounds. This poses a suffocation hazard, and younger children could choke on the plastic poly-pellets should the blanket become torn or damaged.
About The Author:
Hi, I’m Brandi, a wife to an amazingly supportive husband, mom to four sweet, crazy kiddos, and a fibromyalgia thriver. As a Navy veteran living in South Carolina, I spend my days cherishing the time with my family as well as reading, writing, cooking, and just being me. My blog, Being Fibro Mom, is all about thriving the family life while living with fibromyalgia, and our support group, Fibro Parenting, gives additional support and resources to fibro parents. My other work in the fibro community include writing for The Fibromyalgia Magazine and serving as Families & Fibromyalgia program director for the International Support Fibromyalgia Network.