In the ever-developing world of research on weighted blankets, the term “self-organization” appears multiple times in efforts to describe what a weighted blanket does.
Tina Champagne, an occupational therapist and one of the primary researchers into the safety and effectiveness of weighted blankets, frequently uses the term “self-organization” to describe a process in which an individual is able to self-manage, self- restrain, self-soothe, self-care, self-regulate, and generally cope in a healthy way with whatever stressors they are experiencing. While there are a lot of terms that describe the sensation of calm that many experience when under a weighted blanket, self-organization seems to me to be the most encompassing.
“‘Self-organization’ describes the process in which an individual is able to self-restrain, self-soothe, self-regulate, and generally cope with stress in a healthy way.”
But, really, who talks that way? Outside the research, I mean.
You might say it more like this:
I can’t sleep with anything lighter than my big comforter or I’ll feel unsafe.
I can barely sleep unless there’s some sort of pressure to focus on.
[I am] forever fascinated by how distractible and hyper I am after too little sleep. Today is very much a weighted-blanket-work-from-home day.
This weighted blanket is the best thing ever. I am so calm under it… dare I tempt fate and think I’m going to sleep all night again?!
It’s amazing what my weighted blanket can do to help calm one of my meltdowns.
I might go under the weighted blanket for a bit to calm my system.
I’m finally feeling better and just realized it’s because I’m piled under a weighted blanket.
I like using my weighted blanket when hyper/restless or stressed.
If I let you use my weighted blanket then you know it’s real because this blanket is my go-to comfort blanket and sleep aid and sense of security.
I am lying under a weighted blanket that one of my autistic friends just bought for themselves and it is so nice I feel such peace.
In other words,
When you are having a difficult time managing or coping with the stresses you are experiencing (emotional, sensory, etc.), the weight of a weighted blanket can help return that sense of self-organization or otherwise being in control.
He flops on the couch. School is stressful. Sean struggled more when he was younger, but now he usually manages to hold it together until he comes home. Typically, something will send him right over the edge into a full blown meltdown. He hates it.
Not today. Today Sean comes home, flops on the couch, and immediately covers up with his weighted blanket. The weight of the blanket allows him to regroup, to quite his insides, and face the rest of the evening. Now that he has a weighted blanket, the meltdown is something he can bypass altogether.
Champagne observes that “the weighted blanket…appears to help the consumer nurture, soothe, and care for himself or herself.” And while weighted blankets are quite helpful in the middle of a stressful period/moment, researchers report that they are known to help prevent crisis states or meltdowns. Weighted blankets and vests have been used for years to prevent crisis states with children, adolescents, and adults. Heavy blankets can actually prevent these panic attacks and allow children and adults to resume normal activities.
In some recent safety studies, Champagne and her colleagues recorded adult participants’ responses to the weighted blankets:
Image text: Study 1: 63% reported less anxiety symptoms after using the 30 lb. weighted blanket
78% participants reported that they felt more relaxed with a weighted blanket than without.
Study 2: 51% reported a reduction in anxiety after using the 30 lb. weighted blanket.
77% reported a preference for the weighted blanket when using a self-determined amount of weight.
Study 3: When asked when they felt the most relaxed, 91% selected “When using the weighted blanket.”
Those numbers blew me away
That’s an average of 72% reporting favorable results with the weighted blanket. The studies not only “appear to indicate that the 30-pound WB could be an effective anxiety reducing intervention” but also that regardless of diagnosis, a WB appears to provide a calming effect for a significant portion of the adults who tried them.
Less anxiety and more relaxation, anyone? Yes, please!
Hands down, weighted blankets have a profound and effective non-pharmaceutically-based effect on the user that helps them “self-organize”, decrease anxiety, and relax. They can be used both during a crisis state and as a preventative.
Champagne concluded that a weighted blanket provided a calming effect for a significant portion of the participants, regardless of their [mental health] diagnosis.
Shannon is skeptical of solutions that are widely touted as natural problem solvers, but have little to no scientific backing. Not because she doesn’t want to believe them; she does. She simply has very strong feelings about companies with claims that over-reach and are unsubstantiated, particularly when those promises and products come with a high price-tag. If the claims are true, a weighted blanket would be worth it’s weight in gold… but she wants to see the research—and so she should.
Are you like Shannon?
You want to know what the research says but don’t want (or have time) to sift thru the actual research papers (and be instantly transported back to college!)?
Then you’re in luck!
That’s exactly why I put together How to Know if Weighted Blankets Really Work (and if research supports using weighted blankets).
Download your copy for FREE:
Inside, you will also receive access to a special Assessment designed to assist you in determining if a weighted blanket is a good fit for you.
Why wait? Download now!
How to Know if Weighted Blankets Really Work
(and if research supports using weighted blankets)
Champagne T, Mullen B, Dickson D, & Krishnamurty S. Evaluating the Safety and Effectiveness of the Weighted Blanket with Adults During an Inpatient Mental Health Hospitalization. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. 2015; 31:3, 211-233 Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0164212X.2015.1066220 Accessed 10/16/2015
Champagne T, Mullen B, Dickson D. Exploring the Safety & Effectiveness of the Use of Weighted Blankets with Adult Populations. AOTA 2007: Proceedings of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Annual Conference, April 2007; St. Louis, MO. Available at: http://www.ot-innovations.com PDF Download: http://www.ot-innovations.com/ images/stories/PDF_Files/aota2007weighted_blanket_web_final_607.pdf Accessed 08/04/2015
Champagne T, Stromberg N. Sensory Approaches in Inpatient Psychiatric Settings: Innovative Alternatives to Seclusion & Restraint. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing [serial online]. 2004; 42:9. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/
publication/8224547_Sensory_approaches_in_inpatient_psychiatric_settings_Innovative_alternatives_to_seclusion__restraint Accessed 08/04/2015
Mullen B, Champagne T, Krishnamurty S, Dickson D, Gao R. Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health [serial online]. 24:65-89 MARCH 2008. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233228002_Exploring_the_Safety_and_Therapeutic_Effects_of_Deep_Pressure_Stimulation_Using_a_Weighted_Blanket Accessed 08/04/2015