Study: Weighted Blankets Help Treat Insomnia and Other Disorders

If your clients have been diagnosed with insomnia or another psychiatric disorder, a weighted blanket may give them the comfort they need to sleep at night.

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In a study published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Swedish researchers found that when sleeping with a weighted chain blanket, insomnia patients with psychiatric disorders experienced reduced insomnia severity, better sleep and less daytime sleepiness.

The study involved 120 adults who were previously diagnosed with clinical insomnia and a co-occurring psychiatric disorder: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or generalized anxiety disorder.

Random participants were chosen to sleep for four weeks at home with either a chain-weighted blanket or a non-weighted control blanket. Change in insomnia severity, the primary outcome, was evaluated using the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). Wrist actigraphy was used to estimate sleep and daytime activity levels.

About 60% of participants who used a weighted blanket had a positive response, with a decrease of 50% or more in their ISI score from the baseline to the four-week endpoint, compared with 5.4% in the control group. In addition to better sleep, subjects who used the weighted blankets experienced a higher daytime activity level, as well as reduced daytime symptoms of fatigue, depression and anxiety. At a 12-month follow-up, they reported continued use of the weighted blankets maintained these positive outcomes. 

"I was surprised by the large effect size on insomnia by the weighted blanket and pleased by the reduction of levels of both anxiety and depression," said principle investigator Dr. Mats Alder, consultant psychiatrist in the department of clinical neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

"Weighted chain blankets are an effective and safe intervention for insomnia in patients with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also improving daytime symptoms and levels of activity," concluded the researchers. 

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