If you think a weighted blanket is just a heavy blanket, you’d only be partially right, because it’s heavy, but not just a blanket. It’s a therapeutic blanket that has several health benefits and promotes much-needed sleep for those whose brains never seem to shut off and continue on autopilot well into the night. Even if you don’t have trouble sleeping, you can get a better quality of sleep with one of these blankets.
So how and why would a weighted blanket help you sleep? After all, the very thought of something too heavy, weighing you down as you sleep sounds more terrifying than relaxing. And the heat! What about the heat? That’s why you need to understand the principle behind the design of such blankets and how it helps people get a night of better sleep.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
We know it’s heavier than a regular blanket or quilt, but just how heavy is it? A weighted blanket will typically range from 5 pounds to 30 pounds and comes in different measurements to fit on your bed. The lighter weights are usually meant for children.
Different things go into these blankets to make them heavy. People use these conveniences in Canada since it gets really cold there, so over there a weighted blanket is typically stuffed with fillers, like glass beads, steel shot beads or plastic poly pellets. The fabric that is used will also make it heavier or lighter; typically, cotton makes it lighter. The cool thing is that you can find brands that make weighted blankets that can be used even when there is warmer weather. After all, you want to sleep well in winter and summer.
The key is knowing how to pick the weight that suits your body and body weight. People who know about these blankets advise that you should purchase one that is around 10% of your body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should buy one that is 15 pounds heavier. Buy one that’s too heavy and it can be uncomfortable for you. Opt for one that’s too light, and it won’t do what it’s supposed to do, which is what exactly?
The theory is that when something physically heavy is placed on you, it calms you down as it somehow has a soothing effect on your body. Weighted blankets act as a cocoon, giving you security and comfort. The idea that pressure helps people sleep better might sound off to most people, but the theory has been tested and its results released in The Journal of the Formosan Medical Association.
The study was done on healthy adults undergoing wisdom tooth extraction, which is considered one of the most stressful things people might have to do. The group using a weighted blanket during the extraction showed less brainwave activity of stress than those who did not use the blanket and also released more serotonin in the brain, with serotonin being that feel-good chemical.
Benefits of Weighted Blankets
Stress reliever: Now that you better understand the theory of deep pressure, it should be clearer to you that it relieves stress and anxiety, which are contributing factors for poor sleep.
Autism: Many might not know that these blankets help children with autism and help with sensory issues and anxiety, which are characteristics of autistic kids. Occupational therapists have been using weighted blankets for some time to help treat the symptoms of autism in children.
Autistic kids will have unique sensory needs, partly because they don’t process information well from their senses. Some children don’t process information from their senses as well as others do. They may respond well to a weighted blanket which is why weighted blankets are often recommended for kids diagnosed with autism or sensory issues.
ADHD: A person who suffers from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has difficulty focusing or paying attention to one thing for a long period of time. Children diagnosed with ADHD can have problems with maintaining attention, often not finishing anything they start, taking impulsive actions without taking permission first, and, and being restless, hyperactive and fidgety.
All this makes it hard for ADHD children to get a good night’s sleep, which is where a weighted blanket can help. For some children, it can have a magical effect and get them to sleep comfortably. The same way you would go to work feeling more alert after a good sleep, the same way sleeping well can help an ADHD child.
You would estimate the right size and weight of the blanket as you would for an adult; 10% of the child’s body weight. And as with adults, some children might prefer their blanket to be a bit heavier or a bit lighter than the recommended weight. If your child is seeing an occupational therapist, they could recommend the best weight for your child. Keep in mind that weighted blankets shouldn’t be used for infants and any child younger than 1 year old.
A child doesn’t have to be diagnosed with anything to use these blankets. They just might be the type that tends to wake up during the night often or have a habit of getting out of their bed.
Restless Leg Syndrome: RLS is another medical condition that might be helped by the mighty blanket. When a person has Restless Leg Syndrome, they suffer from the urge or action of having to move their feet or legs. This tends to happen more in the evening when the person is resting or sleeping.
This condition can affect people almost at any age, and as you would expect, it disrupts sleep, causing daytime drowsiness which clearly affects the quality of life.
The way the blanket is wrapped around the body with its weight might help to calm your nerves, which is the root cause of restless leg movement. It has been discovered that serotonin is produced when people use weighted blanket therapy, and this is why it has been advised that people who suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome use it to help them sleep better.
Trying our best not to say it’s like a security blanket, a weighted blanket does offer some sense of security for both children and adults. It’s therapeutic, helps those who have chronic conditions and helps everyone to ease into a state of sleep without the tossing and turning. It’s, after all, a useful tool you won’t regret having in your home.