How weighted blankets can benefit your health

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - Lindsay Willrich works in education, and after a long day, she said, a weighted blanket put her right to sleep!

"I felt very relaxed when I had it on,” Willrich explained.

She said during her years of teaching she's known students to use weighted blankets for anxiety, ADHD and autism sensory issues. In fact, Audrey Omenson, clinical director of the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center, said that's how they gained popularity.

The science behind a weighted blanket goes much deeper than just feeling nice. Omenson said the pressure sensation connects to part of the brain's sensory system you probably don't even know exists.

"That system that tells me my joint is moving or there's pressure being applied to my body, that is a whole separate sensory system,” Omenson said. “A weighted blanket gets in touch with that sensory system that processes pressure and deeper touch and with that, that can be another way to tap into our sensory system and provide a calming thing - it doesn't work for everybody!"

She said it will either make you feel soothed or claustrophobic.

Willrich loved it and said she noticed an added perk.

"My heart rate went down to like 40 at one point and I realized it was when I was laying on the couch with it. I was like ‘oh maybe it really does calm you down!’" Willrich said.

The blankets range in weight from 5 to 25 pounds. Omenson said people with autism should determine the best weight to use with an occupational therapist.

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