|Well, here’s a new one. In my continuous search for relief from my chronic pain, I have found research supporting the use of weighted blankets to manage pain! That’s why I decided to research the topic and try a weighted blanket as well. Here are my findings.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is a blanket that has special pockets sewn into it that hold some sort of weights. Some blankets have the weights woven into the blanket. These weights could be glass, metal or plastic.
The blankets come in different fabric materials, which is important to keep in mind if you get too warm when sleeping.
The blankets come in different weights as well. Research states that you should use a weighted blanket that is 10% of your body weight. However, research also states that the heavier blankets deliver more pain relief.
Most popular weighted blankets weigh between five to twenty pounds.
Why Does It Work for Pain?
The weighted blanket’s effect on a person makes them feel like they are being touched. This is called deep pressure stimulation or pressure therapy. Many studies have been done to show the benefits of touch on humans as well as on animals.
The weights also give the feeling of pressure, which is used in massage. And most of us love a massage! This pressure causes the body to release some feel good hormones like serotonin, which can act as pain reducers.
So combine the feeling of touch from the weight and pressure that releases serotonin, and you have a natural pain reducer!
It should be noted that a study done using weighted blankets to reduce pain doesn’t reduce the pain, but rather the perception of pain. The study titled Widespread Pressure Delivered by a Weighted Blanket Reduces Chronic Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial doesn’t really explain what that means. But my experience is that for one thing the stimulation of the weights touching your body gives the brain more to focus on and thus distracts it from the pain. Another reason would be the feeling of being touched releases serotonin.
What Type of Chronic Pain May Benefit?
Chronic pain is a variable category with many of us experiencing different levels and types of pain. Mine doesn’t even seem to fall into a common category. But studies show that a weighted blanket can help with:
- Aches and pains
- Joint pain
Even if your pain doesn’t fall in these categories, you might consider how the effects might help you. I have chronic pain much like sciatica. Once I find a pain free position in bed, I add the blanket for added relief.
Note also that weighted blankets have been used to assist children with ADHD, people with anxiety and depression, and sleep problems. I think it is a wonderful, drug free option that may make a difference in many lives.
I truly had no idea that a weighted blanket could help me sleep and manage my pain at the same time. So I was eager to try it. I have been using a weighted blanket for a few weeks now. And I can honestly report that it does provide some pain relief. It really does feel like someone is holding you tightly, which is a feeling I enjoy. I am also finding that I am sleeping a bit better.
It makes you feel like you are being held and touched, which science has shown is a good thing. We have better mental health because of it. I think of it as giving my body some positive hormones that support my mental health and therefore impact my chronic pain management.
When our pain is more controlled we can of course get a better night’s sleep. Chronic pain can have a profound effect on our sleep and it becomes a vicious cycle of pain interfering with sleep and not sleeping well increasing our pain. I’m all for a natural way to reduce my pain and increase my sleep quality.
I wrote an article about sleeping when you have chronic pain. Click here to view it. How To Sleep With Chronic Pain.
Who Should Not Use A Weighted Blanket?
Although there aren’t any known negative side effects, there are some individuals who should not use a weighted blanket. If you have any of these problems, a weighted blanket is not for you. This is a list compiled by Welia Health in their Article Do weighted blankets really work? Do not use a weighted blanket if you have:
- Chronic respiratory or circulatory issues
- Sleep apnea
- Low blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
The above conditions should be taken seriously. Since there is no adverse effect from a weighted blanket for most of us, those that have the above issues should not try it. These are the only negative situations I can find.
I want to add that an elderly frail individual might struggle with a weighted blanket. It does take some strength to lift it and position it, which may be difficult for a weak senior man or woman. I also wonder if they would feel like they are being pushed down. I suggest you experiment with a weighted blanket by seeing if your elderly loved one can maneuver it and if they like the feeling.
I always state that I am not a medical professional, and only research topics that I feel may be helpful to individuals. My goal has been to turn my chronic pain into a reason to help others.
Should you use a weighted blanket to help you manage chronic pain? I think so! It is a fairly inexpensive purchase with no side effects. Why not give it a try?
Any questions regarding this article? Leave them below. And add comments also, especially if you have used a weighted blanket for pain relief.