Weighted blankets are not ordinary blankets; unlike the traditional blankets, these blankets have fillers inside the fabric that makes them feel heavy. Over the years, it has been shown that weighted blankets not only provide relief from the cold weather, but they also have therapeutic benefits. For years, therapists have used weighted blankets to manage children with autism, ADHD and other behavioral disorders. However, the weighted blankets can also be used by adults to manage anxiety, insomnia, joint and muscle pain, and stress.
How do weighted blankets work?
As we outline on our weighted blanket review, the scientific principle behind their success is something called Deep Pressure Touch stimulation. The weighted blankets have fillers inside like glass beads, rice, silicone grains, weighted feathers, and fine sand particles. When the weighted blanket is draped over the body, the pressure on the skin and joints results in the stimulation of nerves, which in turn activate certain parts of the brain, which releases chemicals (melatonin, serotonin) that diminish pain, increase sleep, reduce anxiety and stress, and provide an overall feeling of comfort and security. This is what is known as deep touch pressure (DTP) or deep pressure therapy (DPT).
Types of weighted blankets?
The weighted blanket is selected based on the individual’s weight. Experts suggest that the ideal weight of the blanket should be about 7-10% of the total body weight or a maximum of 25 pounds. There are weighted blankets of different weights for different purposes. Some people benefit from the light weighted blankets (8-17 pounds ) and others benefit from heavy weighted blankets (18-25 pounds).
How to select a weighted blanket?
To get the maximal benefit of a weighted blanket, it is important to select the blanket with the right weight. Selecting the correct weighted blankets not only provides more comfortable and good sleep, but it can also help erase or reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and pain. Here are some tips on the selection of a weighted blanket:
In general, the lighter weighted blankets (less than 10 pounds) are recommended for children. Adults tend to benefit from weighted blankets that weigh between 12-25 pounds.
If in doubt, always select a king-sized weighted blanket rather than a Queen. The reason is that two people can comfortably use the same blanket for good sleep and therapeutic benefits.
Select a weighted blanket with an outer cover that can be removed. This makes it easier to maintain the blanket and prevent damage to the internal fabric. The outer cover, also known as a duet, can be removed and cleaned if it gets dirty.
Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of weighted blankets on sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping, then select a weighted blanket that is about a pound heavier than 10% of your body weight. You want a weighted blanket that provides a touching and hugging sensation, which has been shown to work best for insomnia.
If you have anxiety or stress, select a weighted blanket that is light (between (8-15 pounds). These blankets apply gentle pressure on the body without causing too much compression. The lighter weighted blankets tend to have a calming effect on the brain and help one cope with anxiety and stress.
If your child has autism, ADHD or other behavior disorder, select a slightly heavier weighted blanket (12-20 pounds). The reason is that the heavier blankets provide a more secure feeling and help achieve a peaceful state of the mind. While many of these children may not be socially interactive, they do respond well to weighted blankets which provide a generalized sensation of being hugged, which leads to restful sleep.
For stress relief, the lighter weighted blankets should be selected. Those that weigh between 8-12 pounds are recommended. The lighter weighted blankets will help prevent the constant turning and tossing and allow you to fall asleep fast and deep.
How often do I need to use weighted blankets?
It is important to understand that in order to get the maximal therapeutic benefits from weighted blankets, they have to be used regularly. The benefits tend to occur rapidly but if you want them to last, then regular use is recommended. In fact, there is no reason why a weighted blanket cannot be used as a traditional blanket.