Weighted blankets have been a popular sensory-based intervention to support with children and young people’s regulation; this is because they offer deep pressure stimulation which is thought to positively impact sleep, anxiety and cognitive processes by reducing the physiological levels of stress and arousal.
However, studies exploring the effects of weighted blankets use for sleep and anxiety have found mixed results and there is actually limited evidence to show that they reduce anxiety or improve sleep and participation in daily life activities.
It is important to remember that the use of a weighted blanket comes with its own risks including, but not limited to:
- Some individuals may not be able to independently and safely remove a weighted blanket.
- Health conditions may affect someone’s ability to breathe, regulate their temperature, or remove the blanket when they want to maintain skin integrity.
- Mental health factors might affect how someone uses a weighted blanket.
- Side effects of medication or illnesses affecting alertness might contraindicate use of a weighted blanket.
It is therefore essential that an individualised risk assessment is carried out with personalised and accessible information to ensure the use of a weighted blanket is safe and appropriate.
For more information, see our Free Resources page for access to the guide from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.