Weighted Blankets Uncovered
30th October 2023
Wrap Yourself in Comfort: Why everyone's falling in love with these relaxation essentials
What is a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets work by employing a therapeutic technique known as deep touch pressure (DTP). These blankets are filled with materials like glass beads or plastic pellets, which evenly distribute the weight across the entire surface. When you use a weighted blanket, the gentle pressure it exerts on your body stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with relaxation and mood improvement. This deep pressure mimics the sensation of being hugged or swaddled, triggering a calming effect on the nervous system. As a result, it can reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol, alleviate anxiety, enhance sleep quality, and even provide relief from certain types of chronic pain. By promoting a sense of security and comfort, weighted blankets have become a popular tool for managing stress, anxiety, and sleep-related issues.
Weighted blankets are not your typical comforters; they contain specialised materials that make them heavier than traditional blankets. Here's what's inside a weighted blanket:
Outer Cover: Weighted blankets often come with a soft, removable cover made of materials like cotton, minky fabric, or microfibre. This cover is available in various colours and patterns to suit your style.
Inner Layer: The inner layer of a weighted blanket consists of small compartments, each filled with weights. These weights can be made from various materials, such as glass beads, steel beads, pebbles, plastic pellets, or metal discs. The choice of filling affects the overall weight and feel of the blanket.
Sensory Fabrics: Some weighted blankets also incorporate sensory textures like raised dots or lines to provide additional comfort and relaxation.
Improved Sleep Quality: Weighted blankets provide gentle, evenly distributed pressure, which can mimic the sensation of being hugged or swaddled. This pressure can increase the production of serotonin and melatonin, promoting better sleep quality and reducing insomnia.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress: The deep touch pressure stimulation from a weighted blanket has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. This calming effect can help alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.
Enhanced Focus and Concentration: Weighted blankets are not only for bedtime; they can also be used during the day to increase focus and concentration, making them beneficial for individuals with ADHD or sensory processing disorders.
Alleviation of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): RLS sufferers often find relief from the soothing pressure of a weighted blanket, which can help calm the constant urge to move their legs.
Comfort for Sensory Sensitivities: People with sensory sensitivities or conditions like autism find comfort and security in the deep pressure provided by weighted blankets.
Weighted blankets are versatile therapeutic tools that can provide a wide range of benefits to different individuals, making them a valuable addition to the world of wellness and mental health.
People with Anxiety Disorders: Those battling anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, often experience heightened levels of stress and restlessness. Weighted blankets offer a soothing solution by providing gentle, evenly distributed pressure. This deep touch pressure stimulation promotes the release of serotonin and melatonin, helping to reduce anxiety and create a sense of calm. It's like receiving a reassuring and comforting hug that eases the symptoms of anxiety.
Insomnia Sufferers: For those who struggle with sleep disorders and insomnia, falling asleep and staying asleep can be an ongoing challenge. The weight of a well-chosen blanket offers a sense of security and relaxation. By promoting better sleep quality, weighted blankets can reduce nighttime restlessness and help individuals achieve a more restful slumber. The gentle pressure provided by the blanket supports the natural sleep-wake cycle, contributing to a sense of tranquillity that aids in improving sleep patterns.
ADHD and Autism: Children and adults living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often face difficulties related to focus and restlessness. Weighted blankets can have a remarkable impact in this context. The comforting pressure encourages a sense of calm and stability, allowing individuals with ADHD to improve their concentration and reduce the constant urge to move. Likewise, many individuals within the autism spectrum find solace in the sensory input offered by weighted blankets. The deep pressure promotes self-regulation, reduces sensory overload, and provides a calming effect that helps create a soothing environment for individuals with autism.
Chronic Pain or Fibromyalgia Patients: Chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, can cause continuous discomfort. Weighted blankets can offer relief by promoting relaxation, which helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain. The gentle, uniform pressure distributed across the body can reduce the sensation of pain and discomfort, enabling those with chronic pain conditions to experience a greater sense of well-being and comfort. Additionally, the security and warmth provided by the blanket can help manage pain and promote relaxation.
The appropriate weight for a weighted blanket for children should be carefully determined to ensure their comfort, safety, and therapeutic benefits. As a general guideline, it is recommended that a child's weighted blanket be approximately 10% of their body weight. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all rule, as factors such as a child's age, developmental stage, and individual sensitivity must be taken into account. It's essential to prioritise the child's well-being and comfort, choosing a weight that provides a sense of security without causing discomfort or strain. Consulting with a healthcare professional or occupational therapist can be particularly helpful when selecting the right weight for a child's weighted blanket, as they can provide personalised guidance based on the child's unique needs and circumstances.
Selecting the appropriate weight for a weighted blanket for adults is essential to ensure optimal comfort and therapeutic benefits. While the general guideline recommends a weight of around 10% of an individual's body weight, this is a starting point and not a one-size-fits-all rule. Personal preferences, sensory sensitivities, and specific therapeutic needs all play a role in determining the ideal weight for an adult's weighted blanket. It's important to prioritise comfort and safety, ensuring that the blanket does not feel overly heavy or cause discomfort. Consulting with a healthcare professional or occupational therapist can be valuable, especially if there are medical considerations, as they can provide tailored recommendations based on an individual's unique requirements and circumstances. Ultimately, the right weight for an adult's weighted blanket should provide a sense of relaxation and security, contributing to improved sleep quality and overall well-being.
With their capacity to adapt to your unique needs, weighted blankets have the potential to become your go-to solution for relaxation and enhanced well-being. They offer an avenue to unwind, destress, and recharge, all within the embrace of a cosy and comforting blanket. The experience of cocooning yourself in a weighted blanket can be a transformative one, and it's an experience that many have already embraced with great success.
So, why not take the opportunity to experience the difference for yourself? With the wide availability of weighted blankets, there's never been a better time to invest in your well-being and comfort. These blankets have become more than just a cosy accessory; they're now a therapeutic tool that can enhance the quality of your life. So go ahead, embrace the comfort and benefits of a weighted blanket, and open the door to a world of relaxation and enhanced well-being. Your journey to a more peaceful and restful existence begins with the simple act of snuggling up with a weighted blanket.