What's A Weighted Blanket?Which Weighted Blanket Is Right For You?
What is the weighted blanket? What is the science behind the weighted blanket? What is the weight blanket material made? How do I choose a weighted blanket?
WHAT IS A WEIGHTED BLANKET?
A weighted blanket is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a blanket with extra weight in it. However, while they sound simple, there are multiple factors that you'll want to look at when deciding what blanket to purchase.
WHAT MATERIAL IS IT MADE OF?
The outside material is important to consider when buying a weighted blanket. Maybe you'll want something lighter like a linen, or you'll want a more sensory input from a dotted minky blanket.
If you have a duvet style blanket, you can perhaps choose which layer you want, or switch them out depending on the season.
So that’s the general idea of what a weighted blanket is, let's look at how heavy they should be.
How Does a Weighted Blanket Work?
Chances are, you own quite a few blankets. We’re all familiar with blankets, how they work and what they’re for. You might even have a favorite blanket, or a blanket you prefer to snuggle up with while you watch television or read a book. Perhaps as a child, you had a blanket, blankie or lovie you carried around with you (and maybe even refused to leave behind). Blankets are a favorite soothing and comfort tool for a lot of people — even if they don’t realize it.
Weighted blankets take the soothing, calming comforts of a regular blanket and combine it with a therapy tool originally pioneered by autism researcher, Temple Grandin. As a young person, Dr. Grandin saw cows being led through a compression device designed to hold them in place for their vaccinations. She noticed that the cows became calmer and more docile when they were gently squeezed.
As someone on the autism spectrum herself, Dr. Grandin recalled how being held and hugged as a child often helped ease her anxiety and sensory processing disorder. However, she also remembered that on some occasions, hugging or holding had irritated or alarmed her. She wondered how she could help people with autism and sensory processing disorders get all the benefits of a hug without feeling confined or restricted.
Using the squeeze machine concept she’d seen on the farm, she built a similar device for people. Known as a squeeze machine or hug machine, the therapy tool she created works by applying firm but gentle pressure throughout the body. Similar to a hug, it stimulates the release of oxytocin — the happiness chemical in the brain.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND WEIGHTED BLANKETS
Believe it or not, weighted blankets aren’t just a trendy meme. There’s actually some science between what makes weighted blankets so calming and comforting. The weight of the blanket provides deep pressure, which can have a relaxing effect on some people. A 2008 study in the journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health evaluated 33 adults who each rested under 30-pound blankets for five minutes.
At the end of those five minutes, 33 percent of the study participants who used the blankets showed a greater drop in sweat on the skin, which is a measure of stress. Nineteen of the participants said they felt calmer with the blanket than without, and eight said they were comfortable either way. Only three of the study participants felt more anxious with the blanket than without.
Although it’s only a small study, it shows some promising initial results that the weight of a blanket can be soothing, especially when combined with rest.
Which weighted blanket is right for you?
Occupational therapist, May-Benson cautions that weighted blankets are not for everyone. She recommends people try snuggling under a pile of their own blankets and quilts to see if they like the feeling of extra weight before purchasing a weighted blanket. She also warns against using weighted blankets in children younger than seven unless they are supervised. Also, you should not use a weighted blanket if you suffer from a respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problem or are recovering from surgery. If you’re unsure, consult with your doctor before trying.
Occupational therapists recommend a blanket that is 5-10% of your body weight. Your doctor or occupational therapist can also help you determine the right weight for you or your child. If you tend to sleep hot, choosing a breathable 100% cotton blanket will help keep you comfortable.
Some insurance plans will even cover the cost of a weighted blanket as long as you have a doctor’s prescription.
Weighted blankets can bring many benefits to people such as insomnia and anxiety. The science behind the weighted blanket is convincing. Over the years since its invention, weighted blankets have created miracles that have freed many people from insomnia, anxiety, depression, and so on.