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Weighted Blankets and Autism: What You Need to Know

Weighted blankets may seem like the latest trend in sleep gadgets, but they have actually been around for over 25 years. Weighted Blankets were first used as a therapy tool for children with anxiety, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to help people with their sensory needs and offer relief from anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

At Groundd, we are committed to the pursuit of a good night’s sleep and in this article we discuss how weighted blankets can help manage anxiety and insomnia for those living on the spectrum and what experts have to say about them.

Managing autism Sensory jigsaw loveheart

What Is A Weighted Blanket?

Much like it sounds, a weighted blanket is a blanket that has evenly distributed weights dispersed throughout it. The pressure from the blanket’s weight creates the calming sensation known as Deep Touch Pressure Therapy (DTP). DTP can be in the form of a hug, massage, swaddle, or in this case, a weighted blanket coving your body. DTP is known to create a feeling of security that allows the body’s nervous system to switch fight or flight mode to rest and recover mode.

Managing Autism and its challenges

Autism is a “spectrum condition” meaning all individuals with Autism have their own distinct set of strengths and challenges that stem from the condition. Three common challenges for people with autism that are often interlinked are anxiety, sensory issues & sleep disorders. This article will discuss these challenges and explain how a weighted blanket may be able to help manage them.

ASD Love heart Managing Autism and its challenges with a weighted blanket

Autism and Anxiety

Constant anxiety can be extremely distressing for people with autism and can negatively affect a person psychologically and physically. Around 50% of those with autism will experience anxiety so it is important to understand the triggers and causes in order to take steps to reduce and manage the anxiety one is suffering from. Anxiety can arise from many environments, and each individual’s experience will be unique and also may change through the course of ASD, but some types of common anxieties that particular relate to those on the spectrum include:

  • Social anxiety from situations where difficulty understanding the emotional state and reactions of others as well as ones own emotional state causes anxiety
  • Specific phobia that causes an irrational fear of something, such as loud noises or darkness, this is often linked to sensory processing difficulties explained below.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Separation anxiety

How can a weighted blanket help with Anxiety?

Anxiety can be a significant contributor to sleeping problems & not getting enough sleep, in turn, triggers further anxiety. A weighted blanket is a perfect sleeping companion to help break this poor sleep cycle by providing physiological and psychological benefits that help alleviate anxiety through Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). DTP relaxes the nervous system by applying an evenly distributed weight over the body. The Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Journal found one of the therapeutic benefits of DTP that is delivered through weighted blankets is a soothing, calming effect. Like a cocoon, massage or a hug, weighted blankets activate the touch sensory input by applying pressure over the body, giving the person a relaxing sense of peace and calm.

Autistic boy blocking ears Managing Autism and its challenges with a weighted blanket

Autism and Sensory Issues

Sensory issues are a common attribute of autism and occur when someone has a difficulty receiving and responding to information from their sensors to various stimuli ie light, touch, balance, sound, taste or smell. Austin’s sensory issues can involve both hyper-sensitivities (over responsive to stimuli) and hypo-sensitivities (under- responsiveness to stimuli).  Whether someone is hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to stimuli will result in requiring completely opposite accommodations. For example if one is hyper-sensitive to food they will require food that is less rich in flavour, whereas if they are hypo-sensitive they will require strong tasting foods. As this article will go on to explain, those who are hypo-sensitive to touch will particularly benefit from Deep Touch Pressure Therapy that is provided by weighted blankets.

These sensory processing difficulties are another key cause for anxiety for those with autism as the feeling of being constantly bombarded by sensory stimuli or not experiencing any sensory stimuli can be very uncomfortable and anxiety inducing.

How can a weighted blanket help with Sensory Issues?

A weighted blanket is a soothing tool for managing sensory disorders via sensory integration therapy. The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket provides a calming comfort tor those who are hypo-sensitive to pressure & the cover is soft and hypoallergenic.

While weighted blankets help provide a sense of security from their weight, that weight does not necessarily mean they will cause you too over heat at night. At Groundd, we use natural materials, like premium loose weave cotton and bamboo lyocell that regulates your body temperature and prevents you from overheating in the warmer months and from getting too cold in the winter months. This is why we have chosen to avoid synthetic materials like polyester minky covers that trap body heat and can cause you to overheat at night

Hear from Groundd Sleepers with Autism

Hear from Groundd customers with Restless Leg Syndrome


After looking at weighted blankets for a very long time I finally decided to purchase one. Should have done it sooner! With restless legs combined with sleepless nights (mind racing) I was waking every hour through the night. I have never liked heavy blankets on me so it took a few nights to get used to the weight but I now look forward to snuggling down in bed and if I do happen to wake during the night I find I am able to get back to sleep. No more restless legs or racing mind. BLISS! My husband sleeps better too, without my constant tossing and turning. I love the feeling and breathability of the bamboo. I don't get too hot. Such an excellent product and great customer service from Groundd. THANK YOU!


I have heard lots about weighted blankets over the past few years but have been put off by the price. It's a huge investment for something that may or may not work. I only wish I had taken the plunge sooner and at this price its worth every penny! I suffer with anxiety, PTSD and restless leg syndrome and have required medication to sleep for some time. I have used this blanket now for two nights and have had absolutely no need for medication and have had the best sleep I have ever experienced. I would recommend this product to everyone, and will be purchasing many more for family and friends!


My daughter finally “trialled” her anxiety blanket last night. She suffers from “restless leg syndrome” that keeps her awake with pain but last night not only did she sleep through the night, she didn’t have pain and she didn’t move and slept through her alarm in the morning.


I didn’t know what to expect although a good friend had recommended the weighted blanket. I suffer a lot from restless leg syndrome and hardly ever have uninterrupted sleep. However, I have now used the blanket for two nights and have slept through the night both times to awake so much fresher. I don’t how or why it works but it does. Long may it continue.



We purchased the weighted blanket for my 35 year son who has autism and downs syndrome. There has been an improvement in his sleeping and when used to soothe him by wrapping it around his shoulders when he becomes agitated. We are very happy with the blanket and the results we are seeing so thank you Morgan and Ellie.


My brother is Autistic and has always had trouble sleeping. He often piles blankets on top of himself but then wakes up in the night too hot. Since getting his Groundd blanket he said he's been sleeping deeper and for longer than ever before, without over heating. He really loves it.




I bought it for an autistic friend as a birthday/Xmas present and they say they slept better than they have in a long time, they were over the moon. I will probably buy one for myself some time soon! Great shipping, awesome store.


Autism and Sleeping Disorders

Between 40% to 80% of children with autism experience chronic sleep problems which commonly continues in to adult life. Studies into what causes sleeping issues for those with autism are inconclusive but some common theories include:

  • Sensory processing issues: Increased sensitivity to stimuli can mean that minor changes in sleep environment can be very disruptive to someone with ASD cause them to wake abruptly. Ie changes in temperature or sounds.
  • Failure to release melatonin at night: Melatonin is a hormone which is required to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Studies have shown that people with autism do not release melatonin at the correct time of the day being nighttime for sleeping and instead release it during the day time.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety or a racing mind can be one of the biggest barriers to sleep for anyone.

How can a weighted blanket help with Sleeping Issues?

In addition to calming one's nervous system and regulating ones body temperature for a perfect nights rest, weighted blankets have also been shown to Increase serotonin & regulate melatonin.

Serotonin is an essential chemical in the human body that is useful for neurotransmission activities. It is believed to help regulate mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and more. According to the Occupation Therapy and Mental Health Weighted blankets have been shown to increase serotonin in the body. Serotonin is required to produce melatonin and therefore a weighted blanket may be useful in helping those with ASD produce more melatonin at night and help with sleep.

 Groundd weighted blanket on bed with glasses and magazine
 Groundd weighted blanket on bed Autism Sensory

The Science Behind Weighted Blankets And Managing Autism

Presently, there is little direct research on the use of the weighted blanket to help autistic children or adults sleep. While its soothing presence provides autistic individuals with comfort, there has been no confirmed experimental result. However, numerous research works point towards the 1999 study on the benefits of deep pressure stimulation. The hypothesis surrounding this study points towards the conclusion that deep pressure simulation is beneficial to autistic people. However, using a weighted pressure as a means for deep pressure simulation is parallel to the study's findings.

Stay Grounded with a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets may have become a hot trend in recent years, but they are so much more than that. Not only do they help to alleviate anxiety, calm the nervous system, and promote serotonin production, but weighted blankets also serve as an effective tool for managing the challenges of being on the Spectrum.

Find the ideal weight for a weighted blanket for you with our Weight Quiz here.

Girl sleeping in Groundd Sensory blanket


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