What Exactly Is A Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is exactly what the name says, a blanket that is heavier in weight than a regular blanket. Weighted blankets are composed of different materials like extra thick fabric, rice, poly pellets, or glass beads which adds bulk to the blanket. Weighted blankets come in various sizes and it is important to choose the appropriate weight for a child who will use the blanket as a sleep aid. Both children and adults can benefit from sleeping with a weighted blanket, and the benefits have been scientifically linked to Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) Therapy. DTP Therapy involves the even application of pressure on a person’s body, which can be in the form of a slight squeeze, hug, or firm hold. A weighted blanket should provide just enough pressure to reduce anxiety or stress. The pressure causes a spike in serotonin, which is the body’s “happiness hormone”. The serotonin naturally converts to melatonin, which is the body’s sleep hormone, causing a person or child to sleep better. Weighted blankets can range in weight from 10 pounds to 30 pounds, but the appropriate weight depends on the weight of the user.
Children and Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets are not recommended for babies or toddlers under the age of four. However, therapists have been using them for years to help children four and up, as well as teens with sleep disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that sleep problems impact 20 to 50 percent of children, and 40 percent of adolescents. The consensus among scholars is that well-rested children perform better in school and have improved mental health. Children who get adequate amounts lowers their risk of becoming obese and developing high blood pressure. If other types of therapies fail, then it may be worth it to try a weighted blanket. These blankets do not have any of the bad side-effects like prescribed sleep aids. Check out the list of benefits associated with children sleeping with a weighted blanket.
- Reduce Anxiety or Stress – Anxiety or stress can make a child physically and mentally exhausted. A weighted blanket is similar to the act of swaddling a baby because the pressure gives the child a sense of security and comfort.
- Help with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) – SPD is a condition where the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses. Weighted blankets also help children suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism.
- Insomnia – Therapists have suggested that parents try weighted blankets that are 10% of their child’s body weight for optimal results. There is a gap in scholarly literature when it comes to insomnia and the benefits, but some companies earn millions in revenue from selling weighted blankets.
- ADD and ADHD – Oftentimes, children with ADD or ADHD have sensory issues. They may seek physical stimulation to relax and fall asleep. The weighted blankets have been linked to positive effects for children with ADD or ADHD.
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) - RLS causes involuntary movement of the leg but can also cause a tingling or crawling sensation. The movement is usually worse at night, which can make sleeping difficult. RLS has been linked to low dopamine production, while weighted blankets increase neurohormones such as dopamine and serotonin.
Adults and Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets have been around for decades. However, the marketing surrounding weighted blankets in recent times has helped them become more mainstream. Many adults purchase weighted blankets to relax and watch movies. According to an article written on the Business Insider, Gravity Blankets is a fairly new company that morphed into an industry giant by selling millions of weighted blankets a year. “Gravity's version of the weighted blanket began as a Kickstarter project in 2017. Gravity raised more than $4.7 million from nearly 24,000 backers to create a plush, single-person blanket that weighs up to 25 pounds”. Many adults suffer from the same disorders as children, such as restless leg syndrome, anxiety, and insomnia. Therefore, the benefits for adults are the same as the benefits for children.
Weighted Blankets Are Versatile
There is a large variety of weighted blankets on the market, which gives consumers plenty of choices. Sometimes variety makes it difficult to choose. How are they different?
- Size: Weighted blankets come in different sizes to accommodate different people and various size beds. The dimensions can range from smaller than a twin-sized comforter but can go up to a King-size comforter. The blanket should not be wider than the bed because the weight of the blanket can make it fall to one side of the bed, which makes it difficult to stay on the bed.
- Weight: As noted earlier, weighted blankets generally range from 10 to 30 pounds. Due to weight distribution, a person will feel more pressure with a 15-pound blanket that is a twin size, than a 20-pound blanket of bigger dimensions. The rule of thumb with weight is that it should be around 10% of a person’s body weight. So, a 150-pound person should try a 15-pound weighted blanket first to see if that works. Others may enjoy a bit more weight and opt for a 30-pound weighted blanket.
- Material: These blankets come in many different fabrics, such as cotton, microfiber, and there is even a cooling fabric for people who sweat at night. Some brands make the blankets reversible and the whole thing washable. Although, most weighted blankets have machine washable covers minus the insert. The insert can be heavy and damage a machine.
- Price: The price can vary depending on the fabric, dimensions, and weight. Fortunately, there is a weighted blanket for just about every budget. Some blankets of smaller dimensions and lower weights (such as 10 pounds) are on the lower end of pricing, around $65.00. Other companies encourage customers to customize their weighted blanket by choosing the type of material, design of the fabric, weight, and dimensions. The customizable blankets are a bit pricier and can cost around $150.00 to $200.00.
Key Takeaways: Adults and children have used weighted blankets to get better sleep for decades, but recent marketing has helped them become mainstream. The blanket provides firm pressure to the body, which helps people produce neurohormones like dopamine and serotonin. The benefits of using a weighted blanket cover a wide range of sleep disorders as well as sensory processing disorders. A weighted blanket may not work for everyone, because everyone is different. However, weighted blankets come in such a large variety that most people have no problem finding one that works for them.
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Written by: Anntonieyo Tabor
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