Weighted blankets have been used for some time as an adjunct to various therapies aimed at treating autism and similar disorders. Also known as ‘gravity blankets’, they have been used to provide ‘deep-touch pressure’ to help regulate emotional responses and release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. The hope is that this will create a sense of relaxation and calm in patients. Today, this idea has led to the manufacture of weighted blankets for the retail market to help provide all users with a restful night’s sleep.
Types of Weighted Blankets
These special blankets may appear a little different from ordinary types but they have been created to add a comforting ‘hug’ of additional weight. Glass or plastic beads are sewn into the material and stitched into squares (‘baffles’) to distribute the weight evenly over the entire body. Sufferers of insomnia or stress and anxiety sleep disorders are felt to benefit most from using these blankets.
Fibers of Weighted Blankets
The use of different fibers addresses various needs and aesthetic concerns. Knitted weighted blankets employ heavier knitted fibers to create a similar effect to the baffle types. These are more aesthetically pleasing, can be washed and hung dry, and should regain their calming enfolding quality.
Users may prefer cooling fabrics such as cotton or bamboo and there is an increasing interest in the organic weighted blanket using materials from sustainable sources.
Other Weighted Bedding
Comforters and duvets may be weighted to lay over the whole bed rather than an individual sleeper. Covers can be removed for easy washing or to add to, or remove from, heavier blanketing. Whichever type is used, choosing the correct weight is of paramount importance.
These blankets are available in various sizes from 5-30lbs, suitable for all ages, height, and weight ranges, and the personal preferences of users. The purpose of weighted blankets is to provide a gentle all-over pressure to envelop the body to produce a calming, relaxing sense of wellbeing. The correct weight to achieve this is recommended to be 10% of the user’s body weight, with 1-2% more, or less, to feel comfortable.
Too Much Weight
Can a weighted blanket be too heavy? Selecting one of these special blankets that are too heavy may negate the benefits to the user. This may result in these disadvantages:
- Too heavy may cause the body to overheat, especially during the summer or in users who are generally hot sleepers. This can lead to discomfort and insomnia rather than the deep sleep possible from using a weighted blanket. Cooling materials can minimize this problem.
- Sufferers from arthritic or other painful conditions may feel too much pressure and no relief from their ailments.
- Too much heaviness could give rise to feelings of entrapment or being crushed.
- Breathing difficulties. Those with respiratory problems need to be particularly careful to choose the correct weight to avoid too much pressure.
Babies and Young Children
Weighted blankets are not suitable for babies and very small children as the additional weight could potentially lead to suffocation. Older children, however, can benefit from one of the blankets using the 10% of body weight guideline.
Studies on the benefits, pros, and cons of weighted blankets are still ongoing. However, the positive reviews of many users continue to swell the demand for these products. Deep and peaceful sleep is considered vital to good health and choosing a correctly weighted blanket may help many to achieve just that.