Understanding the Benefits of Weighted Blankets for ADHD

We all have times when we struggle with stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges. People dealing with ADHD can have more frequent and intense emotional struggles. While there are many treatments and coping mechanisms available to manage ADHD, one approach that has gained increasing popularity in recent years is the use of weighted blankets.

A weighted blanket is a powerful tool for individuals with ADHD, as it can help to calm and soothe the mind and body. In this article, we explore the benefits of using a weighted blanket for ADHD and how it works.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of adults and children worldwide. It is characterized by difficulties with attention, hyperactive behaviour, and impulsivity. These symptoms can cause significant impairment in daily life, including difficulty in academic or work settings.

There is no single cause of ADHD, but research suggests a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Treatment for ADHD typically includes a combination of medication, therapy, and behavioural interventions such as exercise or sleep hygiene.

How Can a Weighted Blanket Help ADHD?

A weighted blanket is a blanket filled with materials such as plastic pellets, rice, or glass beads, which add weight to the blanket. The blanket is designed to provide deep pressure touch stimulation, which can help individuals with ADHD feel grounded, calm and relaxed.

Deep pressure touch has been shown to increase the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, learning, and other cognitive processes. By increasing serotonin levels, a weighted blanket may help manage ADHD symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness and difficulty sleeping.

Benefits of Using a Weighted Blanket for ADHD

There are numerous benefits of using a weighted blanket for individuals with ADHD, including:

Reduced Anxiety

A weighted blanket can help reduce feelings of anxiety by providing a sense of security and comfort. The deep pressure touch sensation stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that has a calming effect on the body.

Better Sleep

Many individuals with ADHD struggle with sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep or disrupted sleep. A weighted blanket can facilitate better sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing feelings of restlessness.

Improved Focus and Attention

One of the key challenges for individuals with ADHD is maintaining focus and attention. A weighted blanket can help increase focus by providing a calming and grounding effect that helps reduce distraction and impulsivity.

Eases Sensory Processing Issues

ADHD is often associated with sensory processing difficulties, which can make it challenging to process and interpret sensory information. A weighted blanket can provide sensory input that helps individuals with ADHD feel more attuned to their body and surroundings.

How to Choose the Right Weighted Blanket for ADHD

When choosing a weighted blanket, it is important to consider several factors to ensure that it is safe and effective for ADHD management. These include:

Weight

A weighted blanket’s weight must be appropriate for the individual’s body weight to provide the desired benefits. The general rule of thumb is to use a blanket weighing between 5-10% of your body weight.

Size

The size of the blanket is also vital in ensuring effective therapy. It is essential to select a blanket large enough to cover the individual’s body without leaving gaps. This will provide an even distribution of weight and prevent the blanket from sliding off.

Filling Material

The filling material greatly influences the texture and feel of the blanket. While plastic beads and glass beads are the most common fillings, it is essential to choose a material that does not pose a choking hazard and is hypoallergenic.

Conclusion

A weighted blanket can be a valuable tool for individuals with ADHD to help manage symptoms of anxiety, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. It provides deep pressure touch simulation to boost the body’s production of serotonin, which promotes calmness, relaxation, and improved mental focus. When choosing a weighted blanket, it is essential to consider the appropriated weight, size, and filling material for effective therapy. A weighted blanket may not be a standalone treatment for ADHD, but it is a complementary coping mechanism that can provide significant benefits.

FAQs

What is a weighted blanket?

A weighted blanket is a therapeutic tool that has been designed to provide a deep pressure stimulation to the body. This feeling is similar to that of a hug or a gentle, firm pressure on the body. The blanket is filled with pellets or other weighted materials that range from 3 to 30 pounds.

Can a weighted blanket help with ADHD?

Yes, a weighted blanket can help with ADHD symptoms. The deep pressure stimulation provided by the blanket can help calm down the nervous system and reduce anxiety, which is often associated with ADHD. The blanket can also provide a calming sensation and help improve sleep quality, which is essential for managing ADHD symptoms.

Are there any risks associated with using a weighted blanket for ADHD?

While most people find weighted blankets to be safe and effective, there are some risks associated with using them. Children under the age of 5 or individuals with certain medical conditions such as sleep apnea or asthma should not use a weighted blanket. Additionally, it’s important to choose the right weight for your body size and seek advice from a healthcare professional before using a weighted blanket for ADHD.


References

1. American Occupational Therapy Association. (2020). Weighted blankets in occupational therapy practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(4_suppl_1), 7411515129.

2. Gringras, P., & Green, D. (2018). Weighted blankets and sleep: a systematic review. Journal of Child Neurology, 33(9), 591-596.

3. Mullen, B., Champagne, T., Krishnamurty, S., & Dickson, D. (2008). Exploring the safety and therapeutic effects of deep pressure stimulation using a weighted blanket. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24(1), 65-89.