A client sits in my therapy office…. She wrings her hands and has trouble sitting still. Her nails are painfully short from anxious biting. Running commentary, reveals her fearful thoughts. This is a picture of an anxious person. Her days and nights are filled with nervous energy and intruding thoughts.
It's not surprising.
General Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
I offer her the weighted blanket that is resting on the arm of my couch. Curious, she unfolds the grey flannel and allows the blanket to press into her body. She rests her head on the back of the couch as she becomes quiet and still. She can finally be at rest.
This is a common story of someone who struggles with Anxiety who uses a weighted blanket for the first time. As a Marriage and Family Therapist I frequently use a weighted blanket for my clients to help relieve their crippling anxiety.
The blanket weighs anywhere from 10 - 20 lb and is weighted down by beads lined inside the blanket that work like a deep tissue massage. This weight creates serotonin in your body which some of that becomes melatonin your body’s “feel good hormone.”
Two studies, one published in Occupational Therapy (2008) showed that weighted blankets helped with anxiety. A study published in Australasian Psychiatry (2012) confirmed this. Many of my clients and family have discovered that the blanket dramatically improves their sleep by helping them fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer through the night.
One of my friends used to wake up 6x a night and by using a weighted blanket was able to start sleeping all the way through the night the first time she used it.
Traditionally, the blankets are used in the Autistic and ADHD community. It helps these individuals relax and feel more grounded.
I have found that many people benefit from the blanket including: those struggling with:
One of the many benefits of using a weighted blanket is that many of them stay cool and do not add heat. This is because many of the blankets are made of a quilting fabric and the beads inside the blanket cool throughout the day before you use it.
Donna Durham is a Marriage and Family Therapist from Nashville, TN and is also the Founder of Weighting Comforts.