Written by "Guest Blogger" (name withheld for privacy)
Weighted Blankets and ADHD
I can really empathise with families who have struggled like we have. Raising a child with ADHD can fall somewhere in the middle of "We got this" and "I think I'm losing my mind! How will we ever cope?!", so I’d like to share what’s been working for us. My son has had great success using a weighted blanket to help with ADHD – it is calming for him at bed time and he has a better night's sleep.
If you are like our family, the ADHD diagnosis may be the least of your struggles. A whole host of other symptoms can fall under this diagnosis – emotional outbursts, anxiety, sensory issues, trouble sleeping – just to name a few. In our family, anxiety and trouble sleeping climbed to the top of our list.
Sleep is ESSENTIAL!
I know sleep important for kids in general, but less sleep can really exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD. And, as I’m sure you have found, getting the recommended 10 to 12 hours of sleep can be really difficult. Kids with ADHD may have trouble calming themselves down at the end of a busy day. Once asleep, they often wake up frequently and have restless sleep.
I have been hyper vigilant about my kids getting at least 10 hours of sleep a night. Many nights, despite our regular bedtime routine (routine can be especially helpful when dealing with ADHD and anxiety) and our supplements, bedtime was still a challenge.
And then, the weighted blanket!
I was familiar with weighted blankets, but, like many others, I was of the understanding that they were more for kids falling on the autism spectrum – I didn’t know they could help someone with ADHD. I had no idea. In fact, there have been many, many studies which have proven that using a weighted blanket for ADHD can have a therapeutic effect. It wasn’t until a friend shared with me how a weighted blanket had helped her sons with ADHD that I bit the bullet and bought one for us.
Why weighted blankets work for ADHD
A well made weighted blanket provides Deep Touch Pressure. This evenly distributed pressure over the body can reduce the bodies “fight or flight” activity so often seen with ADHD. In addition, the pressure releases serotonin in the brain which helps regulate mood and provide relaxation. Serotonin also has a big part in the production of melatonin – your bodies natural sleeping aid.
Many kids find weighted blankets helpful in other areas, as well. They can help kids focus on school work and provide relaxation when needed. You may have heard of lap pads, which are great for use in school settings or while reading or doing homework.
How a weighted blanket helps my son
My son mostly uses his weighted blanket at night, it helps him to relax and fall asleep. Most nights he is asleep in 10 minutes or so with this blanket. Words can’t begin to express the relief that this has been for us. My son gets more sleep and I am finally getting some time in the evenings to enjoy a bit of relaxing myself!
When my son was a baby, he LOVED to be swaddled. Swaddling releases all those same great brain hormones as the weighted blanket – so this makes total sense to me now. The weighted blanket provides the sensory input that his body craves. Not long ago, my son told me “Mom, I used to hate sleeping, but now I see it actually is nice and relaxing”. You can always count on a child to be honest and not mince words, so I’d say we’re winning!
How to choose a weighted blanket
You can choose to buy a blanket, or you can even make one. Personally, after reading about the importance of weight distribution I decided to buy one from Blue Hill. I liked the idea that I could return it if it didn’t work for us. Blankets are typically sold according to a child’s age and weight. And, yes, if you’re wondering they make them for adults, too!
My son weighed 75 pounds when we purchased ours and his blanket weighs 10 pounds. The blankets are not huge and are meant to fit just over the body. We use ours under a down comforter in winter and just on top of the sheet in the summer.
Weighted blankets are not cheap. They are definitely a bit of an investment at first glance, but I can honestly say, it is one of the best ways I have spent money in a long time. The benefits of a good night’s sleep affect so many other aspects of my son’s – and our family’s -- life.