In a newly published scientific study from Halmstad, Sweden, findings suggest that using weighted blankets, also known as weighted duvets, can help children with ADHD and sleeping difficulties to manage their daily lives.
The study discusses the use of weighted blankets as a sleep intervention for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleeping difficulties. The study aimed to explore how the children experienced the use of weighted blankets. The researchers, conducted qualitative interviews with 26 children, aged 6-15 years, who had ADHD and sleeping difficulties.
Four categories emerged from the analysis of the interviews: (1) the use of weighted blankets requires commitment, including adjusting according to needs, preferences and adapting to the environment; (2) weighted blankets improve emotional regulation by creating a feeling of calm and safety; (3) weighted blankets change sleeping patterns by establishing new sleeping routines and improving sleep quality; and (4) weighted blankets promote everyday participation by enhancing daily functioning as well as balancing activity and sleep.
The findings suggest that using weighted blankets can help children with ADHD and sleeping difficulties manage their daily lives. The blankets were reported to improve emotional regulation, sleep quality, and the balance between activity and sleep. However, individual needs and barriers to using the weighted blankets may require individual assessment and close follow-up to ensure commitment to their use.
The study highlights the importance of including children's experiences in research and considering their perspectives when prescribing interventions like weighted blankets. Occupational therapists can use this knowledge to improve the assessment and delivery of weighted blankets tailored to individual needs. By incorporating the children's viewpoints, evidence-based clinical guidelines can be developed to enhance the health and well-being of children with ADHD.
Overall, this study contributes to the understanding of how weighted blankets can be beneficial for children with ADHD and sleeping difficulties. The findings support the use of weighted blankets as a sleep intervention and emphasise the need for individualised approaches in addressing the specific needs of children with ADHD.
Since the study was published, Ingrid Larsson, the study's project manager, has been interviewed by Swedish national media: "The result shows that children who use weighted duvets sleep longer at night and wake up fewer times." She adds: "Some parents have said that it has changed their lives." In a recent article by NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation), Norwegian Isabel Torsvik and her mother and board member of ADHD Norway Telemark, Silje Torsvik Eek, talk about their own experience. After her teenage daughter started sleeping with a weighted duvet, she noticed a significant difference: “She got better sleep, which meant that she was more rested. She was able to concentrate much better at school and was more persistent with her homework after school."
In an interview with NRK, Berit Hjelde Hansen, specialist in child- and adolescent psychiatry as well as board member of the Norwegian Society for Sleep Medicine (Norsk Forening for Søvnmedisin), says that many people with ADHD experience sleeping problems and find a weighted duvet a helpful tool in alleviating them. She believes that a weighted duvet can help individuals suffering from sleeping problems but reasons that more studies are needed in order to learn more about its effects on different people, e.g. with different kinds of neurodevelopmental disorders apart from ADHD.
One more recent study has proven that the use of a weighted duvet enhances melatonin production at bedtime for healthy individuals. Secretion of the hormone melatonin signals to our body that it is time to sleep, which can help increase sleepiness. Read more about the study in this article.
This article was published on the 1st of June, 2023 and updated on the 14th of November, 2023.
CURA of Sweden
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