Health Benefits

Autism and Sleep Disorders

"A Weighted Blanket, White Noise, and Melatonin Help Autistics Sleep"

© Melissa Hincha-Ownby - Feb 5, 2008

Sleep problems and autism often run hand-in-hand. These ideas will help induce sleep in individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

It is not uncommon to find individuals with an autism spectrum disorder who also have sleep difficulties. This holds true among children, adolescents, and adults on the spectrum. There may be different causes for the sleep difficulties, but there are certain interventions used to help those with autism get a night of restful sleep.

Weighted Blanket

A weighted blanket is simply a custom-made blanket that has been filled with a specific material that gives the blanket added weight. The choice of filler varies by manufacturer; some common choices are poly-pellets, sand, beans, and river rocks. The deep pressure provided by the weighted blanket helps to calm the individual allowing his body to relax and subsequently sleep is induced.

Blankets can be made in a variety of sizes and weights. A common formula for determining the ideal weight is 10% of the person’s weight plus one pound. A 100 pound person’s ideal weighted blanket would be filled with 11 pounds of filler. A word of warning, some weighted blankets were made with lead inserts; it is imperative that you do not purchase these products as lead is a known toxin.

Read more: "Autism and Sleep Disorders: A Weighted Blanket, White Noise, and Melatonin Help Autistics Sleep |" -

The following information has been taken from “Dreamcatchers Weighted Blankets” in America.

This is where we found our initial information to make our own blankets, we would like to thank them for their support and friendliness.

They have much more helpful information at

How does the Weighted Blanket work?

In researching weighted therapy for sleep and calming, we talked with many therapists, medical professionals and experts in the sensory integration field, and have learned a great deal about how and why weighted products work the way they do. The very short version of the theory behind how weighted products work, is the deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS) supplied by the weight in our products , is believed to release a chemical in the brain, which naturally calms.

Is The Chemical You Mentioned Above Oxytocin?

No, serotonin is the neurotransmitter that studies show is released by deep pressure touch stimulation. Massage and deep pressure releases both serotonin and endorphins. The serotonin acts as a calming mediator for the body while the endorphins act as a happy stimulator for the brain. Together they can bring pleasurable feelings and general elevated moods in both your body and mind. It calms you when feeling anxious.

As an added benefit,
Serotonin converts to Melatonin which is the hormone the body releases at night. Studies show that Melatonin aids in giving the body a good night's sleep.

Who Benefits By Using A Weighted Blanket?

People who have benefited from the deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS) provided by a Weighted Blanket include children, teens and adults affected by, but not limited to, those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, ADD, PDD-NOS, Sensory Integration or Processing Disorder , Rett's Syndrome, Bi-Polar or have other sensory issues. weighted blankets have also been used with people suffering from Tourette's Syndrome, CP, Alzheimer's, Dementia, Restless Leg Syndrome, Menopause and Insomnia with good results.

Many people who just have trouble sleeping have found benefit in a weighted sleep blanket and have found the blankets to be an extremely helpful, natural drug free sleep aid.
Weighted blankets should never be used as a restraint. It is important that a blanket is never so heavy that the user feels trapped. The user must always be able to remove a weighted blanket on their own without problem, if desired.