If you’ve heard about weighted blankets and wonder how they can help you to have a better night’s sleep, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, weighted blankets have moved from being only used in hospitals and occupational therapy sessions to being an almost everyday product in health and wellness circles.
What are weighted blankets?
A weighted blanket is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a “blanket” that is filled (much like a duvet or comforter) with a number of materials to make it heavier than a blanket made simply from natural or synthetic fiber.
The added weight of the blanket offers the user deep touch pressure, which causes feelings of safety, relaxation, and comfort. Weighted blankets may even reduce fear and anxiety.
What are they made from?
The materials used to weigh the blanket ranges from polypropylene plastic pellets, discs or beads to metal or glass pellets. The blanket’s outside cover can also be made from any number of different fabrics, including cotton, linen, polyester, or even waterproof hospital fabrics. Your choice of fabric will mostly depend on the tactile experience that you wish to have. We’ll go more into detail on this below.
Weighted blankets are, furthermore, usually the size of the user. It’s very important that only children’s weighted blankets are used for children so as not to be too heavy for the child. The blankets may also be made to fit atop a specific mattress size, for example a double bed or king-sized bed.
What are they used for?
Weighted blankets were largely used — and are still used — to help desensitize people with sensory-processing disorders and who are hypersensitive to touch.
The weighted blankets make up part of sensory integration therapy (which in turn forms a part of occupational therapy) and can, therefore, also be used for persons with Autism to help focus sensory experiences and, because of this focus, boost their ability to regulate emotions and behavior.
This is not to say that weighted blankets must only be used in a medical setting — many people have found that they can include weighted blankets in their everyday life successfully to help reduce their stress and anxiety levels.
Other uses for weighted blankets include helping to relieve chronic pain and restless leg syndrome.
How do weighted blankets work?
Weighted blankets work through deep pressure touch that stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine. Both serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that make people feel more relaxed.
There was also research done in 2010 that suggests that “slow and gentle touch” may stimulate portions of the limbic system (the brain’s processing network for emotion and fear) and cause a person to become calmer and more relaxed. A weighted blanket, then, is designed to mimic this “gentle touch”. Basically, it’s almost as if you’re being hugged or held softly.
Another study, published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health (2008), showed that, of the sample tested, 63% of people reported lower anxiety and 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a way to calm down.
The benefits of using weighted blankets for better sleep
There are various ways in which weighted blankets can help you to get better sleep.
When used during the night, you may find that the gentle pressure that the blanket delivers not only increase your serotonin and lessen your anxiety, but may even help restless legs and general restlessness.
Looking at these claims a bit closer, we’ll find that the blankets work as follows:
- Besides releasing serotonin (which is needed for the regulation of sleep), a weighted blanket also encourages your body to produce oxytocin. This oxytocin, in turn, may help relieve pain and stress while also boosting your immune system.
- The blanket’s weight may also help you fall asleep easier by decreasing the activity in the nervous system. This decreased activity can also calm your mind and keep you from having such rushing thoughts.
- While the weighted blanket decreases the activity in the nervous system, it also gives just enough downward pressure to help foster stillness during sleep. Less restlessness means that you also won’t wake up as many times during the night. If you sleep next to a restless partner, them using a weighted blanket may also help them to get better rest (and lie mostly still).
Of course, having a good bedroom and sleep routine, coupled with the weighted blanket and all its benefits, will help you to have an even better night’s sleep!
For example, doing some meditation before bed, taking a bath with some lavender or other soothing essential oils, and even putting on some white noise can make a world of difference. Add a weighted blanket and — voila! — a great night’s sleep is yours!
How to choose the best weighted blanket for you
When choosing a weighted blanket for you or a loved one, you should keep a few things in mind to make sure that the blanket you get is the perfect one.
- The blanket shouldn’t be too heavy – only 10% of your body weight for adults.
- The fabric of the outer cover of the weighted blanket must be comfortable for you or your loved one to touch. This is especially important if you have hypersensitivity to touch and texture.
Shop around for the best weighted blanket instead of just buying the first (or cheapest) one you see. You’ll see that taking your time buying one will be well worth the wait.
To get you started, we’ve created a buying guide where we’ve rounded up three great weighted blankets.
The Gravity Blanket is made by the Gravity Company. It has a very high rating on Amazon and is a trusted name in weighted blankets.
Coming in at around USD200 doesn’t make it one of the cheapest brands, but you do get great quality for the amount you’re paying. Also keep in mind that this Gravity Blanket is meant only for adolescents and adults. Children should be given a specially-made children’s weighted blanket to keep them from getting injured by the weight of the blanket.
- The Gravity Blanket is available in different weights – 15, 20, and 25 pounds.
- The Gravity Blanket’s size is 74” x 48”, which makes it the perfect size for one person (the blanket is also made to be used by only person at a time).
- The outer cover is made from micro-fleece, making it exceptionally soft and comfy. This outer cover is also machine washable, making it a breeze to keep clean. The inner also buttons to the cover, meaning that the inner won’t move around inside the cover and clump into one corner because of the extra weight.
- The inner of the Gravity Blanket is made from cotton and filled with fine-grade glass beads. Gridded stitching on the inner ensures that the beads remain equally distributed across the blanket while it’s in use. (The Gravity Blanket’s inner is hand wash only.)
Pine & River Chilled Bamboo Weighted Blanket
The Pine & River Bamboo Weighted Blanket is a good choice for hot summers (or even cool or temperate winters) when you need a weighted blanket, but can’t stand to have a heat insulating fabric like the Gravity Blanket’s micro-fleece.
This Pine & River Bamboo Weighted Blanket costs around USD80, but don’t be fooled by the price; the reviews for this blanket is also very positive. If you’re looking for more cost-effective weighted blanket, this is also the one for you.
- The weights available for this adult weighted blanket are 15 and 20 pounds.
- This Pine & River Weighted Blanket’s size is 60” x 80”. This makes it perfect to use on top of a queen-sized mattress.
- The pockets of the weighted blanket are filled with a proprietary silica blend that is said to be more comfortable than some of the types of plastic pellets that are used in certain weighted blankets.
- The bamboo fabric from which the blanket is made regulates your natural body temperature, keeping you cooler than the synthetic fabrics that most weighted blankets’ covers are made from — perfect for summer!
- The blanket is machine washable on the “delicates” wash cycle with cold water, making it easy to keep clean.
Mosaic Weighted Blankets
For a personalized and quality weighted blanket it’s difficult to beat Mosaic Weighted Blankets. Mosaic’s range of weighted blankets is huge and you can even ask them to make a personalized weighted blanket in your favorite pattern or type of fabric.
Well aware of the health benefits of weighted blankets, Mosaic takes the wellness even further by having available weighted blankets for young and old as well as various accessories like sleep masks, shoulder wraps, lap pads, travel weighted blankets, and also specially designed and weighted kids’ weighted blankets.
- Fabrics used for Mosaic Weighted Blankets include 100% polyester (which is the softest of the fabrics they usually use), COOLMAX – a 65% cotton and 35% polyblend – suitable for warmer climates or hot sleepers, and waterproof hospital fabric that is anti-microbial and comes with a matching cotton cover to ensure comfort.
- Six different sizes of weighted blankets are available from Mosaic; small/kids, throw, twin, full, queen, and king.
- Blanket covers and the lighter inners are 100% machine washable.
Weighted blankets are on the rise and their popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Countless cases of people swearing by that their sleep has improved after acquiring these babies.
If you have thoughts regarding weighted blankets in general or some of the ones we’ve reviewed specifically do feel free to tell us know!
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