06.05.2017

Using a weighted blanket for fibromyalgia

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This article on using a weighted blanket for fibromyalgia was originally published on NationalPainReport.com. It is being republished here with permission from the editor. 

Using a weighted blanket for fibromyalgia | Weighted blankets help to improve anxiety and sleep, and may be useful in managing pain and cognitive difficulties associated with fibromyalgia.

Growing up in a drafty farmhouse, my mom would always add an extra blanket or two to my bed during winter. I remember feeling comforted by the weight of the blankets as I drifted off to sleep. Turns out, there’s a physiological reason for why I felt so calm and secure under those blankets. The added weight caused my body to release serotonin, a feel-good hormone that promotes peace and well-being.

As adults, we can trigger this same release of serotonin by using a weighted blanket.

Fibro warrior Abbie Anderson has launched a new business making weighted blankets. Weighted blankets help to improve anxiety and sleep, and may be useful in managing pain and cognitive difficulties associated with fibromyalgia.

Fibro warrior Abbie Anderson and her husband, Joel.

“A weighted blanket is just that: A blanket with weights placed inside,” explained Abbie Anderson of Minnesota. “You can find them weighted with various things. I have heard of corn, rice or pebbles. However, the professionally made ones have plastic or glass pellets, which are washable.”

Anderson made her first weighted blanket last year for her son, Tate, who has sensory and anxiety issues. Research has confirmed weighted blankets are effective at relieving anxiety, and they’ve been used to improve the sleep of patients with autism, restless legs, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. According to author and blogger Sue Ingebretson, weighted blankets also can foster better sleep, chronic pain management and cognitive focus among fibromyalgia patients. She sometimes uses a weighted blanket during her coaching sessions with clients.

“The blanket stimulates the skin to release [serotonin], much like how a hug from someone we love does,” Anderson explained. “They are beneficial by helping a person to calm or self regulate without the use of medications.”

Anderson began using a weighted blanket herself following her fibromyalgia diagnosis last fall. As her symptoms worsened, she made the difficult decision to close her massage business.

Fibro warrior Abbie Anderson has launched a new business making weighted blankets. Weighted blankets help to improve anxiety and sleep, and may be useful in managing pain and cognitive difficulties associated with fibromyalgia.

One of Abbie Anderson’s handcrafted weighted blankets.

Around the same time, she was looking for ways to help improve her son’s sleep, and a pediatric therapist recommended using a weighted blanket. When she couldn’t find one to purchase locally, she enlisted the advice of her mother-in-law, a talented seamstress, and decided to make one on her own.

“It was by accident [that] I used the weighted blanket,” Anderson said. “While my son was using it, it was bedtime, [and] he wanted to read to me. I crawled onto his bed and covered up with his weighted blanket. Within a minute or two, I was yawning [and] sleepy. When we made the first blanket for Tate, he used it for a few months. After we made him his new one, I started using the old one. I really like to use it for sleep, but also I find it very comforting on days where I ache from the weather or if my anxiety is increased for whatever reason. It gives me a sense of calm.”

Anderson is now making weighted blankets for others. She launched her small business, Balanced Blankets, last fall and has a waitlist for her handmade blankets. You can check out her Facebook page or email her at abbieanderson@rocketmail.com for more information.

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever used a weighted blanket for fibromyalgia? Did you experience any benefits? Please share in the comments! 

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If you gravitate toward heating pads, hot showers or warm blankets to help manage fibromyalgia aches and pains, then you will absolutely love the Healthy Line InfraMat Pro! This heated stone mat uses infrared technology to warm you from the inside out! It's perfect for staving away the bone-chilling cold of winter.

A few of my favorite things for relieving the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia.

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Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’ve been a Developmental Therapist for 25 years and the mom of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder for almost twenty years. When I got sick with fibro-type symptoms, I had a lot of knowledge and experience to draw on. My now-grown dtr made me a 20-pound weighted lap blanket for bad pain days using my favorite batik fabric and poly-beads used for making stuffed animals. She is now making me a lighter 10-pound twin-sized blanket to sleep under, as the batik one is too heavy for that. (I can’t turn over and it’s really too small for sleeping under.) I also have a larger stuffed animal, that has had extra beads added to make it heavier than normal. It’s usually for children but it makes me smile and that’s always a good thing. I’ve had Spoonie friends ask if my dtr could make them a blanket, but it’s very labor-intensive. She has said doing it for me was out of love, but she didn’t think she could make very many. I applaud those who make the blankets and I know that they are worth every penny.

  2. Niki Mullis says:

    I have ADD and My son has ADHD. I started looking up the weighted blankets for him. He’s 10. He is also very hot natured. I will get him one soon. I am currently sewing an old fashioned looking patch woto quilt for my stepmother, my first weighted blanket for my grandmother whom we just had to put in the nursing home. Since she broke her leg her Alzheimer’s has worsened greatly. I am going to use fishing sinkers for the weighted part in memory of my daddy who passed about 8 months ago. I am wrapping each sinker in quilt batting and sewing it around and then into the blanket. Thank you for letting me share…..Niki

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      Your blanket sounds lovely! Adding the fishing sinkers is a really nice touch.

  3. Julie Allen says:

    I have always had a heavy blanket. My grandma made it in 1937 with the left over wool from Jr House, where she worked as a seamstress. Out finally died. Then my cats took over the weight. When they passed I was lost. Then I found weighted blankets on Amazon. I bought a 15 pound one since that was about what my cats weighed. I love it except that it is too warm. I guess I’m going to have do the wool again since it regulates temperature better. I cover the wool with a duvet cover so I don’t itch.

  4. How interesting! I’ve never used a weighted blanket before, but I’ve heard great things about them. I have fibromyalgia and celiac…I may have to look into these!

  5. Kathy says:

    I use my down blanket on top of my regular bed linen when I’m in a really bad episode. It relaxes me and warms me as I sometimes get chills when I’m in so much pain. Works very well for me.

  6. Jackie K says:

    I always liked heavy quilts (with the old cotton batting) when I was a child. I especially liked it when I was sick. When my kids were little, and sick, I’d always bring out the old quilts that were passed down and give my kids the ” heavy blankets”. I wish my old quilts weren’t so fragile so I could use every day! I will check into ordering one of these. Love the post!

  7. June:
    I have used a Lead X-Ray blanket for four years now, that they use at your Dentist office. It’s Sure works, I love it!

  8. I would love to try this! I don’t know how it would work with my night sweat issues, though…

  9. This sounds good for some but it wouldn’t work for me. I can’t stand anything tight on my body. I can’t even use my beloved thermal blanket ( like in the hospital) anymore because it feels like there is a ton of bricks laying on me. I even have to cut the collars on my shirts and go without a bra because I feel constricted all the time. Anyone else have this feeling?

    • Vanessa lee says:

      Yes, I do and it’s horrible. It’s so cold now and I can’t wear thick heavy coats because they are just too heavy! I can’t wear thermals because they are too tight. For weeks now I have struggled to find a pair of tracksuit pants because I hate the feeling of elastic around my waist, jeans are too tight and uncomfortable. I look like a homeless person but just can’t help it. I struggle with heavy, contricted, tight clothing all the time but winter is worse. I believe I am a ‘highly sensitive person’ and have been all my life but now the sensivities have really amped up and make life very hard. I used to think I had a sensory processing disorder (and may well do) but am trying to view it more positively, hence the HSP label. Therapies for sensitivity include ‘heavy’ items but I totally agree, I couldn’t do it. Oh to wear a halter neck, a tight dress or even a necklace (yes, even the lightest necklace feels heavy on my skin) . I feel for you and I understand

    • Rachel says:

      Yesssss! There are days when I just can’t stand any kind of restriction. During a bad flare I sometimes can’t even comb my hair or wear it in a ponytail. I don’t know that I could stand the weight of a weighed blanket but I do like those warm, ultra soft velour blankets. They’re really comforting for me.

  10. This has been on my personal wish list to try too! I’m not a great seamstress at all so I’ll have to buy one, and they’re surprisingly quite pricey! Soon enough I’ll get my hands on one ;p

    • I have shopped around and Abbie offers these blankets much more reasonably than anyone else. She starting making them because she thought the ones on the market were to high priced. I agree about tight or constricting clothing on bad days. But these weighted blankets are not the same. I get a lot of pain relief and sleep better with mine. Love it!

  11. I love my weighted blanket! When my legs ache and nothing else is easing the pain, i use a heating pad with the weighted blanket on top. I have CFS and Fibro. Bought one for my daughter, who has Chronic Lyme and CFS.We both use when the pain is especially bad all over. I have not tried it for sleep, so will be giving that a try.

  12. A weighted blanket would not work for me since I mostly just toss and turn and kick my blankets off and on all night. What I wouldn’t give to be able to lay still enough to be able to just keep any blanket on.

Trackbacks

  1. […] blanket – My fibro friend Abbie Anderson recently made me a weighted blanket, and I’ve been using it at night while I watch TV in my recliner. It’s snuggly and […]

  2. […] My fibro friend Abbie Anderson is still taking holiday orders for her handmade weighted blankets. Weighted blankets have been shown to help with anxiety, sleep, pain management and more! You can learn more about Abbie (including ordering information) and how weighted blankets can benefit those with fibromyalgia and other conditions here! […]

  3. […] 10/11/17: If you’re interested in learning more, check out this article I wrote about using weighted blankets for […]

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