Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weighted Blankets Can Induce Melatonin For Sleep in People With Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and ADHD

Children and adults with autism benefit from weighted blankets because they calm the nervous system so they can relax and sleep. Melatonin is the chemical in the brain that helps us sleep. The science of how a weighted blanket leads to melatonin lies in the body and brain's sensory processing.

People on the autism spectrum often have Sensory Processing Disorder (a.k.a. Sensory Integration Dysfunction). Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder involving smell, hearing, pain, body position, taste, visual, temperature, and the body's position and movement. In short, the brain receives all this stimuli but can't make sense of it so it can react normally.

One type of sensory stimulation, rather calming, is proprioceptive input, which is pressure on the muscles and joints. Proprioceptive input sends signals to the brain that cause serotonin to be released, which is the neurotransmitter in the brain that makes people feel happy. A lack of serotonin being used properly by the brain is one of the causes of depression.

Further down the path we get to melatonin. Some parents give their children melatonin pills to help them fall asleep. But, an increase in serotonin causes natural melatonin to be released in the brain.

This is where the link happens: weighted blankets cause the serotonin to be released, which is calming, which in turn causes melatonin to be produced, which causes a feeling of sleepiness. So, a weighted blanket helps people with autism, Asperger Syndrome, PDD, ADHD, and ADD will help them fall asleep and stay asleep.

Eileen Parker is the creator of the Cozy Calm weighted blanket. She has autism and sensory processing disorder so she knows first-hand how her weighted blanket gives her a happy and restful sleep. Find her weighted blankets at Read her blog at

Her blankets are machine wash/dry, made of soft, cuddly fleece, and they are evenly weighted. They are designed for people like her.

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