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Weighted blankets and ADHD

By Tara Drinks

At a Glance

  • Weighted blankets can be helpful to some people with ADHD.

  • These blankets are designed to create a sense of calm.

  • It’s important to research before buying.

Calming down and self-regulating can be a challenge for people with ADHD . They often struggle with managing their emotions and behavior. For some, weighted blankets can help.

Weighted blankets are designed to relieve stress by providing pressure on the body. That pressure can increase the release of a chemical in the brain called serotonin, which creates a sense of calm.

These blankets are filled with glass beads or plastic pellets and come in different weights and sizes. Some also have extra layers of fabric to increase their heaviness. There are many types, including ones for kids. (Don’t use them with infants and toddlers, however.)

Weighted blankets aren’t new. Occupational therapists (OTs) have long used them to help with sensory issues and anxiety. The blankets work in a way that’s similar to an OT technique called deep touch pressure therapy (DPT). 

Using a weighted blanket is just one way people with ADHD can self-regulate and feel more relaxed. Exercise, mindfulness, and deep breathing can also be calming. 

Dive deeper

Benefits of using a weighted blanket

The challenges of ADHD can make it hard for kids and adults to self-regulate and feel a sense of calm. Many people with ADHD also have anxiety .

Weighted blankets aren’t a treatment for ADHD. But some people find that these blankets can help with the challenges of ADHD. These challenges include:

  • Trouble managing emotions

  • Difficulty dealing with stress and anxiety

  • Having a hard time winding down after an overwhelming day

  • Trouble coping with feelings of anger

Learn more about self-regulation

What to know before getting a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets are sold in a wide range of places, including department stores, chain drugstores, and online specialty stores. Here are a few things to know if you’re thinking of buying a weighted blanket.

  • They can be expensive. The price of a weighted blanket is typically based on weight, size, and quality. The average cost is $100 to $300, according to Sleep Foundation.

  • The “right” weight is a matter of preference. Some people with ADHD prefer blankets that are heavier than you’d expect, given their own weight. But no matter what feels best, the blanket must be light enough for the person under it to easily move it.

  • They can be a safety risk for younger kids. It’s important to inspect the seams regularly to make sure they’re secure so no pellets or beads will fall out. Pellets and beads can be a choking hazard around infants and young children who might put them in their mouths.

  • Fabric can be a big factor. Cotton is lightweight, for instance, and linen is medium weight. Consider the texture of fabric, too. Sensory seekers might love the fuzziness of chenille. But people who are sensitive to touch may find it unbearable.

  • They aren’t right for everyone. A weighted blanket only works if it feels good and is relaxing. Some kids and adults don’t like the feeling of heaviness on them as they try to relax. And others may get overheated or feel claustrophobic under the weight.

Discover other methods for managing ADHD challenges

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom