In 2016, the Government of Alberta established June 27 as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day, which affects approximately 9.2% of the Canadian population ― twice as many women as men ― according to the National Centre for PTSD.
Treatment for PTSD can include cognitive therapy, prescription medication (or a combination of both). Meditation has been known to be beneficial as well. And studies are showing another non-intrusive and holistic treatment option might be a weighted blanket for PTSD.
PTSD and Sleep
The LifeLine Canada Foundation lists symptoms of PTSD as having flashbacks of traumatic events, feeling constantly on guard, a loss of interest in once-positive activities, irritability and the inability to have positive feelings.
Specific sleep-related symptoms of PTSD can include:
- Recurring nightmares
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Worrying and negative thoughts impeding relaxation
How a Weighted Blanket for PTSD Can Help
An article titled, “Weighted Blankets as Non-Medicinal Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” describes how weighted blankets were first used to assist with Sensory Processing Disorder. A weighted blanket feels like a warm hug or a deep massage, and the constant, even pressure stimulates the body and helps ease anxiety. Johnson says, “When the weighted blanket is draped over the body it helps the body feel comfortable and secure. The pressure has been found to deter unwanted thoughts, and relax muscle tension.”
They seem to be working. Hippo Hug client Allison Wawanesa of Manitoba wrote in to provide a testimonial about how well her husband’s weighted blanket is working to improve his sleep.
“I wanted to update you on how his blanket is working for him. I can’t remember when we purchased his blanket (at least a couple of years ago I think), but it has made a HUGE impact in his sleep. My husband suffers from PTSD due to several combat missions within the Canadian Forces. From the very beginning it made a difference in his sleep. My husband has said this about it “Without medications, I never sleep properly through the night. With medications, about 3 or 4 nights a week. But adding the weighted blanket has made a huge difference. I now sleep 7 nights a week.” Thought you might like to know. He promotes the blanket where he can among other forces members with PTSD.”
A weighted blanket for PTSD can be used while sleeping, but also to relax with while reading, watching TV, during counselling, or to bring along when there may be triggering situations. Many also fold the blanket to provide weight in the lap to improve concentration for working (a Hippo Hug weighted lap pad works the same way).
At Hippo Hug, we want to continue to try to help through Project 22, a documentary profiling the staggering number of veteran suicides, specifically those suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Project 22 is riding motorcycles cross country to interview veterans and health care professionals.
Hippo Hug sent Project 22 a weighted blanket for them to use along the way as well as introduce this new therapy to the veterans they meet on the journey. Hippo Hug also sent a weighted animal to use with the children they meet along the way.
Other Ways For PTSD Sufferers to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Additional methods for PTSD sufferers to get the rest they deserve include:
- Creating a quiet, cool, dark and distraction-free environment for the bedroom. A sleep mask and ear plugs may also help.
- Using a fan or a white-noise machine for ambient sound.
- Keeping the same bedtime and sleep schedule.
- Creating a relaxing bedtime routine (perhaps a bath, soothing music, drinking herbal tea).
- Making sure to not take part in a stressful activity less than two hours before bed.
- Imagining being in a peaceful setting.
- Reading until feeling sleepy.
More About PTSD
A 2017 CBC.ca articled titled, “PTSD: Canada has the Highest Rate, Plus Eight More Surprising Facts,” states has Canada has the highest incident rate of PTSD of the 24 countries studied. PTSD is actually more likely to occur in peaceful countries, which some theorize to be because of violated expectations. If something violent happens where it’s unexpected, it can be harder to get over. Canada may also simply have a higher rate of reporting PTSD, as initiatives such as PTSD awareness days work to raise knowledge about its symptoms and treatments options. Indicators of PTSD vary from person to person, and can sometimes take several years to appear.
Although most often caused by long-term stress or a traumatic event, PTSD sometimes doesn’t have any obvious causes. Some develop PTSD because of additional mental health problems such as anxiety or depression and a lack of a solid support system.
How to Choose Your Weighted Blanket for PTSD
Choosing your weighted blanket is a personal decision, and we are here to help. We recommend a maximum weight of 15% of the person’s total body weight, and for PTSD sufferers this may be best. Here is a convenient chart to assist you in determining the ideal weight and size of your blanket. We will happily lend you a blanket to test as well. Contact us at any time with your questions, we would love to tell you more about our blankets.