Rule number one: never make a blanket statement about ADHD.
It’s probably the most misunderstood neurodevelopment disorder to ever exist.
With a slap of a label, you’re stereotyped as someone who can’t focus or sit still.
Sometimes that’s not true.
Sometimes, all you can do is sit still. The simplest of tasks feel so complicated.
One minute, everything feels fine and the next, everything feels wrong.
Too much energy? Hmm, how about absolutely no energy?
If you or your child have been diagnosed with ADHD, you’ve probably put so much time into learning how to grapple with day-to-life.
You may be thinking that now is a good time to add a weighted blanket to your personal wishlist but you're not sure where to start.
Don’t worry. I've got you covered. After reading this guide, you’ll know:
- If weighted blankets for ADHD really work
- How something as simple as a blanket can make a difference
- How to decide if a weighted blanket is right for you
Do Weighted Blankets Help ADHD?
Wouldn’t it be easy if there was a simple way to answer a complicated question?!
Let me reiterate.
ADHD differs tremendously from person to person.
It’s not unusual for someone to wrap symptoms of something unrelated under the guise of ADHD.
Simply because they don’t know any better.
The important thing to remember, is how common comorbidities (simultaneous medical conditions) are with ADHD.
Over 50% of people with ADHD also struggle with:
- Anxiety (including OCD)
As you know, the mind is annoyingly complex and will never be understood fully.
So, you’re incredibly lucky if you are able to pin down the primary cause of your symptoms.
The bottom line?
A weighted blanket isn’t going to magic away any form of ADHD.
Instead, it can be used as a tool to alleviate struggles with stress, anxiety, sleep and focus.
The good news is that this could make dealing with ADHD a lot easier and could even improve attentiveness.
Without good sleep and a clear mind, navigating a life with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is much tougher.
If good sleep sounds like something you could only dream of, then a weighted blanket may be right for you.
Plus, you’d never have to wake up to a bed that looks like it’s been hit by a tornado again. The bed is pretty much made for you since it can’t move very far.
How do Weighted Blankets Work for ADHD?
Weighted blankets work using a technique that science calls deep touch pressure therapy or DTP.
This is the act of applying pressure across the body to release positive hormones (think of a good, long hug).
If an individual responds well to DTP, their brain will start to release serotonin AKA my favourite neurotransmitter... Yes, I have one of those.
Serotonin is nicknamed the “happy” chemical, and when it hits, it hits good.
You feel a sense of calm and well-being throughout the body, which isn’t a familiar feeling for a lot of people with ADHD, who may also experience difficulty:
- Managing emotions
- Coping with feelings of anger and stress
- Settling the mind and winding down
The main reason weighted blankets are so effective is because they help to regulate the mood, making all of the above easier than ever before.
Sensory Issues and Overloads
Many kids and adults with ADHD also have sensory issues which can be a double-edged and very sharp sword.
Sometimes, the natural response to sensory overload is an urge for physical stimulation.
In which case, climbing under a blanket that kind of tells your body to “stay put” is a brilliant way to self soothe.
Other times, the exact opposite is true and the last thing that person needs is even more sensory input.
A good way to tell if a weighted blanket would work for you or your child is to experiment with adding different clothes and blankets on top of the body.
If there is an overwhelming desire to throw them off, then the chances are a weighted blanket isn’t going to help.
Kids with ADHD may have already given clues that suggest a weighted blanket isn’t going to cut it.
If a child loves a super-tight hug, likes to layer up or wear heavier clothes then it’s a strong indicator that a weighted blanket would be ideal for them.
Did you know weighted blankets help with autism too?
Don't They Make You Hot? 🥵
Hmm, well, yes. A weighted blanket CAN make you overheat, but only if you buy one that traps heat.
The key difference here is the fabric and the construction of the blanket.
Using a cheap, low quality blanket is a recipe for a sweat-soaked night of tossing and turning.
Pay close attention to the following if you’re looking for a blanket that won’t melt you:
- Filling – Blankets that use cheap materials need to stuff more plastic/sand into a blanket to make up the additional weight, making them thicker and less breathable. Look out for a blanket made with glass beads or no filling (knitted).
- Pockets – Use a weighted blanket with quilted pockets that keep the beads evenly spread and prevent hot spots.
- Fabrics – Cotton is a natural, breathable fabric whereas minky and fleece are softer, and will trap more heat under the blanket.
Some blanket users have one of each. A plush blanket for the winter months and a cooling, cotton blanket for the summer time.
How They Give You The Best Sleep Ever! 😴
Although there is little research on the subject of ADHD and accompanying sleep disorders, it is widely known that poor sleep causes more severe ADHD symptoms and a lower quality of life.
For those who don’t have ADHD, not sleeping well causes daytime fatigue, grumpiness, restlessness and a lack of focus.
To have those problems simultaneously with ADHD is, put simply, a nightmare.
Sleep is not a luxury.
It’s an absolute essential for your mood, memory, immune system and mental stability.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I sleep better after a warm, safe cuddle.
Imagine feeling like you’re being hugged continuously but without being met by the annoying side effects of humans AKA sweat, heat and... in some cases snoring.
Weighted blankets can help you experience a deeper, more restful sleep and this is backed by science.
Now it’s time to introduce my least favourite neurotransmitter. Cortisol.
Cortisol is the stress hormone and it sucks. Well, it doesn’t but too much of it does.
High levels of cortisol come with headaches, weight gain, high blood pressure and sleep problems.
When your body produces a lot of cortisol, it’s in full fight-or-flight mode and your body is constantly on edge.
Using a weighted blanket helps to regulate cortisol, which in turn helps your body produce healthy levels of melatonin; the sleep hormone that tells your body when it’s time to relax.
So, there you have it. That is exactly why so many people with ADHD say that weighted blankets help them to:
- Fall asleep faster
- Stay asleep longer
- Wake up feeling well rested
Are Weighted Blankets Safe?
Using a weighted blanket for ADHD is extremely unlikely to cause any harm.
If you have been diagnosed with any other conditions including circulatory or respiratory problems, it’s worth checking in with your doctor before you get into bed with a weighted blanket.
It may take some time to get used to the additional weight and that’s nothing to be concerned about.
Are They Safe for Kids with ADHD?
You should take extra care when buying a kids weighted blanket.
We don’t recommend giving a weighted blanket to anyone under the age of 5.
Definitely DO supervise your child if they are going to use a weighted blanket.
Don’t let the blanket cover their head or neck.
In particular, you should never let your child use a weighted blanket if they have:
- Respiratory (breathing) problems
- Cardiac (heart) problems
- Serious hypotonia (low tone)
- Circulatory problems
As a general rule of thumb, if an adult or child cannot freely take the blanket off of the body without help then it is not safe for use.
How to Choose The Right Weighted Blanket for ADHD?
No two cases of ADHD are equal, and the same can be said for weighted blankets.
Here’s our list of the most important points to consider when buying a weighted blanket for ADHD.
One of the more crucial considerations is even distribution of weight.
From corner to corner, not a single section should sag or bunch up.
When you roll over or move the blanket, the pressure should adjust naturally to your position.
If the filling of the blanket starts to bunch up and fall into the corners, you’re going to have a VERY uncomfortable experience.
How will I know if the weight is evenly distributed?
Blankets with quilted pockets are designed to guarantee an even distribution of weight.
Each pocket houses a very specific amount of weight that is locked into place so it can't move or shift whilst you relax.
The smaller the pockets, the better.
When the blanket moves, the filing (in our case glass beads) can only move inside the pocket itself.
Bad quality blankets are completely packed with plastic beads that have the freedom to move anywhere.
You could also opt for a knitted weighted blanket that will not contain any fillers at all.
Glass beads are heavier than plastic pellets. They are also smaller, so they take up less space in the blanket.
The finished product is thinner and more breathable than those made with plastic pellets.
Blankets made with plastic beads are usually bulkier and make a lot more noise.
This doesn’t affect the therapeutical benefits of the blanket though.
Organic cottons and natural materials are the most breathable fabrics. Polyester is denser and will make you warmer.
It is a good idea to invest in a double-sided blanket or a blanket with a removable cover so that you can take advantage of both materials.
The Key Takeaways 🥡
If you or your child has ADHD, we strongly recommend trying a weighted blanket. Hundreds of people with ADHD claim that their weighted blankets help them sleep better, feel calmer and focus more.
But remember, weighted blankets aren’t a medically backed treatment for ADHD.
They are a therapeutical tool to help alleviate the symptoms that make ADHD harder to deal with.
If you’re going to buy one, consider the fabric and the construction of the blanket first and foremost.
If you have any questions or additional thoughts, feel free to share them below.