Do Weighted and Heated Blankets Help Mental Health?
5 min read
Last Modified 13 September 2021 First Added 13 September 2021
Mental health issues are pretty common, in fact, roughly 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. These illnesses can affect many areas of a person’s life, from work to sleep. Certain bedding has been said to help with issues such as anxiety and depression, but can your bedding really help? Blankets are warm and cosy, and can make you feel like you’re wrapped in a big hug. But not all blankets are equal when it comes to helping with mental health. In this post, we’ll take a look at the two most popular types of blankets that are said to help; weighted blankets and heated blankets.
Weighted blankets are popular when it comes to helping with stress relief and healthy sleep habits. These blankets can help to calm anxiety, as well as helping with other conditions.
A weighted blanket is simply a blanket that has additional weight compared to normal blankets. There are two types of weighted blankets, you can get them as a duvet style or a knitted blanket. A duvet style heavy blanket has weight added by the use of glass or plastic beads, ball bearings, or other heavy fillings. Knitted weighted blankets are heavier as they’re often woven with dense wool.
Weighted blankets work by using “pressure therapy”. This therapy adds a calm-inducing amount of pressure to the entire body, which gives the feeling of being hugged. Pressure calms you by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heart rate. A lower heart rate gives a feeling of calmness.
There are a number of benefits to using a weighted blanket, beyond helping with mental health. But from a mental health perspective, these blankets can help you get some sleep and calm your anxiety and stress.
Weighted blankets are often used as an anxiety treatment. Studies, like this one, have shown that deep pressure stimulation helps to reduce autonomic arousal, which is responsible for the symptoms of anxiety. In the linked study, 33% of participants found that using a weighted blanket reduced anxiety.
Those with ADHD could also benefit from using a heavy blanket when sleeping. Although there are few studies that look into the use of these blankets for ADHD, there has been research into the use of weighted vests. The use of these vests was shown to improve attention and reduce hyperactive movements. Therefore, it’s possible that the use of a weighted blanket would have a similar effect.
Feeling cold can have a number of negative effects on physical and mental health. Therefore, it stands to reason that feeling warm can have positive effects on your health, which is where a heated blanket can help.
A heated blanket is exactly what it sounds like – a blanket that gives of heat. There are a few different ways a blanket can do this, but what most commonly comes to mind is an electric blanket.
An electric blanket has an internal integrated wiring system that provides warmth through coil wires. They are made from heavy, sturdy materials and can be set to different levels of heat. An electric blanket can be mains or battery powered.
There are also heated blankets that don’t use electricity to heat them. These blankets use air-activated body warmers to heat up, and they normally have a number of pockets for these body warmers, so you can fill them as much as you need. Generally, one shake will allow the body warmers to supply heat for hours.
It is known that anxiety can increase over winter, plus SAD affects millions of people in northern Europe. Warmth is known to be a source of comfort, both mentally and physically. In fact, research has shown that participants who took a hot bath twice a week for 4 weeks significantly reduced their Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores compared to a placebo group.
If you often struggle with your mental health, it could be worth trying a weighted or heated blanket as home therapy. The effects these blankets have, through pressure therapy or warmth can help to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. They can also help to improve sleep, which can help with your overall wellbeing, including mental health.
Keep in mind, using a weighted or heated blanket is not a cure for any mental illness, but can simply act as an aid. If you need help with your mental health, we recommend visiting your GP or the NHS website.
If you have problems sleeping, check out our articles on sleep problems