Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets that weigh between 5 to 30 pounds (2.3 to 14kg).
These blankets acting as sleeping accessories uses the idea of gravity to enhance relaxation; the pressure from the extra weigh mimics a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation
Deep pressure stimulation (DPS) is the firm but gentle squeezing or holding that relaxes the nervous system. The pressure is applied using hands as in massage sessions- special massage tools or products that can be worn or wrapped around the body to provide pressure.
Weighted blankets can be used on their own or with a duvet cover. For many users, weighted blankets have become a routine essential tool for stress relief and healthy sleeping habits.
Researchers suggests that weighted blankets may even benefit people with anxiety issues, autism (inability to communicate or interact with others), insomnia (lack of sleep), among other relaxation conditions.
Though these therapeutic blankets are not perfect as they can pose some risks also.
What makes up a Weighted Blanket?
The original weighted blanket offers a natural way to help calm the nervous system of the body for a restful night or day of sleep; great calming sensory blanket for adults and children to help decompress and provide comfort.
It comprises of multiple layers (up to 7 layers of fabric) and smaller compartments for maximum comfort that contours to the shape of the body. They are relatively unique in that instead of being filled with cotton, they contain materials like beads, discs or pellets made of polyfill or glass.
This weight is evenly distributed across the body for a feeling of being gently hugged. As a result, sleepers may feel more relaxed and weighted blankets have been confirmed to reduce stress. The DPS offered by the blanket is supposed to make you feel relaxed, safe and comfortable.
Types of Weighted Blankets
Helix Weighted Blanket
This version of the weighted blanket is manufactured in 10, 15 and 20 pound weight. The blanket features an ultra-soft fleece on one side and sheared fabric on the other, providing two different textures to experience.
The double-sided cover is removable and machine washable.
If a bed is shared like in the case of a couple, a weighted blanket might make this more challenging as it might become a tug of war with the covers.
Since some versions have constructions that allow the weighted beads or pellets inside to slump to one side of the bed, the purple-gravity weighted blanket solves this problem; the blanket measures about 90 inches by 90 inches, which is plenty big enough for any size of bed.
Weighing 35 pounds, the purple-gravity blanket is made of fine-grade glass distributed for an ideal weight per square foot.
Saatva Organic Weighted Blanket
This weighted blanket is constructed of organic materials. Saatva’s version is made with natural glass beads and 100% certified GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) cottons- the global standard to which organic cotton textiles are produced, which reassures that the material is produced using organic cotton fibers and manufacturing processes.
The Saatva Organic weighted is free from toxic chemicals and dyes and is extremely soft to touch. The blanket is produced in vast shades of earth tone colors and weighs from 15 pounds for one to a 25 pounds blanket for more space.
Latitude Run Cotton Weighted Blanket
This weighted blanket provides soothing pressure without becoming stuffy, preferred especially during summer months.
This cotton weighted blanket from Latitude Run is a popular option with hot sleepers and any user looking to benefit from a weighted blanket that would not leave him/her feeling stuck and sweaty.
This blanket for hot sleepers is made with 100 percent cooton textiles inside and out and filled with tiny glass beads for gentle pressure.
Other versions of the weighted blanket include:
- The Beauty-rest Luxury Weighted blanket
- Brooklinen Weighted Comforter
- Brooklyn dual therapy Weighted Blanket
- Layla Weighted Blanket
- True Temp Weighted Blanket
- BlanQuil Cooling Weighted blanket
- Yassa Studios Weighted Blanket
- SensaCalm Custom Weighted Blanket
Benefits of Weighted Blankets
These blankets are used in sensory integration therapy for autistic children and teenagers to help them regulate emotions by improving their ability to feel things especially comfort.
Due to past incidents where children died under weight of blankets, there are some debates about whether it is safe for infants.
According to Live Science, there is no safety concern for adults and teenagers, for it has many positive health benefits. Here are some:
To treat anxiety with the use of the DTP ( Deep Touch Pressure) does not really have an actual evidence that it does work but the need of DTP (Deep Touch Pressure) has some anecdotal facts to suggest it reduces anxiety levels.
In the year 2013, there was a study which was conducted, it measured the heart rate and electro dermal activity of a patient while asleep with a weighted blanket and without a weighted blanket and this showed positive results.
Autism is a neurological disorder that is observable in early childhood and persists throughout the lifespan, characterized by a typical communication, language development, eye contact, and sensory experiences.
So, deep pressure stimulation and touch therapy are used to treat autistic disorders since the weighted blankets perform the function of a full body hug.
Research has it that people working with 13 autistic children evaluated the immediate effects of deep pressure therapy and five of the autistic children had responded well in a short period of time.
The evaluation was done using tau-u, a non-parametric technique that allows for serial dependence in data. The limitation is that the study did not determine the result based on long term physiological and psychological health parameters.
But there is not much research to corroborate the fact except from the above one study.
Chronic Body Pain
Incurable pains in the bones and muscles all over the body or at some regions of the body are caused by a condition called Fibromyalgia. This condition can be treated by weighted blankets since it helps the body produce many hormones that decreases pain by causing sleep.
Oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, is produced alongside with the blanket’s heavy touch. This also help to induce sleep and give sufficient rest to the body to recover from pain.
Serotonin is the hormone responsible for anxiety and depression and also ensures sound sleep and relief for the person suffering chronic pain. This is said to rise in levels when using weighted blanket during sleep.
The Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden examined 33 participants diagnosed with chronic insomnia according to the 7-item Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). The participant age grouped 20 to 66 were all healthy.
To establish a base-line period, the participants were asked to go back and sleep in their natural home environment for a week. Following which, they had to choose a weighted blanket based on their preferences and were allowed to interchange it for up to two days.
The blankets were returned two weeks of the testing period and they went back to following their regular sleeping rituals for a week which was considered the post-test period.
Only 22 participants completed the test in all phases. The results revealed that during the two weeks testing period, when the participant slept with the blankets, they had moderate insomnia, but the difference was mild during the pre- and post-testing period.
- Weighted blankets should not be used by anyone that cannot move freely beneath the weight. Though they are sometimes used as a therapeutic means for children, it is important to speak with their pediatricians first. It is also advised that children under age 2 should not use it, to avoid suffocation.
- Due to the heavy weights of the blankets, it can be suffocating for some users, especially to those suffering from some health conditions like claustrophobia, sleep apnea, asthma and blood pressure.
- People with open wound and rashes should also avoid weighted blankets to prevent worsening of the conditions. If you are trying to use the blanket to complement any medical treatment, a doctor’s advice is necessary to decide duration, size and weight of the blanket.
Weighted blankets are known to be a type of indoor therapy that can provide benefits that are similar to Deep Pressure Therapy.
As a general rule;
- A weighted blanket should be 5 to 10% of your body weight.
- The weighted blanket should also fit snugly(tightly) to the bed size.
- Adults can use medium to large, weighted blankets ranging from 12 to 30 pounds
- For 20 to 70-pound child, a small, weighted blanket should weigh from 3 to 8 pounds.
- For a 30 to 130-pound child, a medium weighted blanket should weigh from 5 to 15 pounds.
- Older adults may want to use small or medium weighted blankets ranging from 5 to 8 pounds.