Taking inspiration from deep pressure therapy, weighted blankets are a pretty self-explanatory concept. If you’ve shopped around for these before, you may already know they can be found in two styles: duvet and knitted.
For duvet style blankets, the weight comes from sewn-in plastic or glass pellets, ball bearings, or other heavy fill. Knitted blankets, on the other hand, are woven with dense yarn. Both will serve the same purpose, so choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference.
It’s worth noting that weighted blankets are more expensive than throw blankets, typically anywhere between $100 to $300. This difference in price often has to do with product quality, material breathability, overall durability, and more. That said, if you want to try making your own, there are tutorials available teaching you how to do it for a fraction of the price.
If you have trouble sleeping, especially if it’s caused by stress or anxiety, then you may find a weighted blanket can help. Deep pressure stimulation has been proven to induce calm and alleviate symptoms of stress. In particular, weighted blankets may provide therapeutic benefits for those with autism, anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Benefits of Weighted Blankets
Comfort and Security
Much like swaddling babies, weighted blankets provide a relatively easy way to make you feel comforted and safe. In turn, this will help you feel more present and relaxed, reduce restlessness, and improve focus.
Improve Sleep Quality
Deep pressure is believed to stimulate the production of serotonin (mood-boosting hormone), reduce cortisol (stress hormone), and increase melatonin (sleep hormone). What that means is that weighted blankets can improve sleep quality, and even boost mood and energy levels while you’re awake. They also help with treating insomnia–a study has found using one means longer sleep bouts and less movement at night.
Ease Stress and Soothe Anxiety
If your nervous system is overstimulated, that can often lead to anxiety, hyperactivity, and stress. When you distribute an even amount of weight and pressure across the body, it may calm the fight-or-flight response, and relax your parasympathetic nervous system.
Relieve Chronic Pain
Weighted blankets can help release muscle tension and have been shown to reduce the severity of chronic pain. Heavier blankets had greater success in making people perceive less pain, particularly in highly anxious individuals.
How heavy should my blanket be?
Weighted blankets usually range between 5-25lbs, and come in standard bedding sizes. Most people tend to prefer them equivalent to about 10% of their body weight, but personal preference should always be taken into account.
While some manufacturers provide child-sized blankets, it is worth noting infants and toddlers should not use them, as there is a risk that they may become trapped underneath. As a rule of thumb, weighted blankets are safe as long as the person using them has enough strength to lift them off as needed.
Despite being safe, children under ten should still be supervised when using a weighted blanket. Adults with certain health conditions (including chronic respiratory and circulatory issues, sleep apnea, epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and low blood pressure) and the elderly should first consult a doctor, as these blankets may be unsuitable for them.