Many of the doctors, nurses and occupational therapists who advocate weighted blanket use believe that deep pressure stimulation can stimulate serotonin and endorphin release in the brain, which elevate mood similar to what happens when one receives a hug.
As a result, many nursing homes, hospital acute psychiatric wards and caregivers for the elderly are beginning to experiment with using weighted blankets to help calm to their anxiety ridden and agitated patients.
Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Nothampton, Massachussets, began using weighted blankets in its psychiatric unit in 2006. The hospital reported that using weighted blankets when patients felt agitated reduced the use of restraints.
Harvard University also piloted weighted blankets at McClean Hospital's Geriatric Neuropsychiatry Unit. Again, using weighted blankets when elderly anxiety and dementia patients felt agitated reduced their stress and calmed them.
The hospital also found weighted blankets helped patients get better sleep.
Weighted blankets are a low-risk way to try to bring relief to a loved one. They can be used at any time and for as long as needed to bring a calming effect.