Weighted blankets, sometimes referred to as gravity blankets, were once a tool of therapists and psychiatry clinics. Now, they have gone mainstream.
But whether there are any health benefits to using weighted blankets to ease anxiety and other issues remains a matter of debate, with some experts even cautioning these 25-pound blankets might pose a hazard to children.
Weighted blankets are harmless when they are used for teens or adults, said Teresa May-Benson, an occupational therapist with the nonprofit Spiral Foundation in Newton, Massachusetts. But it should be noted that two deaths have been linked to the misuse of weighted blankets: one of a 9-year-old boy with autism in Quebec who had been rolled up in a heavy blanket, and one of a 7-month-old baby.
The blankets have a long history of use in a type of occupational therapy called sensory integration therapy. This treatment is sometimes used to help people with autism or other disorders to focus on sensory experiences, which experts say may boost these individuals' ability to regulate their emotions and behavior. Weighted blankets are one tool therapists use to provide "deep-touch pressure," May-Benson said.