Whether for children or adults, weighted blankets are designed with a similar intention, to mimic the feel of a soothing hug, by using deep pressure stimulation, or deep pressure therapy (DPT). One recent study1 suggests weighted blankets may be helpful for encouraging sleep and relaxation, especially among children with ADHD or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
While these blankets have only recently started to be studied for their benefits and impact, there is a ton of anecdotal evidence from parents, psychologists, and educators confirming that weighted blankets make a big difference in the day-to-day lives of children—especially (but not limited to) those who have ADHD or ASD, or who are highly sensitive.
Teaching self-care: According to therapist Lily Thrope, LCSW, the comfort children experience from a weighted blanket can be helpful in developing their own coping strategies. “It is similar to an adult mindfulness practice—when the child chooses to utilize the weighted blanket, they are consciously choosing to care for themselves, which is a valuable lesson to teach them at a young age. Self-care routines [early on] can lead to a stronger sense of confidence and allow them to set better boundaries in adulthood.”
Reduced feelings of anxiety: “Many times, children with anxiety, ADHD, and autism have sensory needs that are unmet throughout the day,” explains psychologist Anjali Ferguson, PhD. “Some of these kids can experience a sense of calm with deep pressure, which may stimulate the release of serotonin to calm the nervous system. This calmness can allow better focus, more regulation, and improved mood.”
Improved sleep: “Given the deep pressure effects, these blankets can calm the nervous system and stimulate relaxation to promote sleep,” says Ferguson. In one small study from 20212, parents of children with ADHD reported a significant improvement in their child’s sleep routine after implementing a weighted blanket. If your child runs hot, you might want to consider a cooling weighted blanket specifically.