Weighted Blankets 101 – What You Need to Know

So you’ve been reading about weighted blankets recently. You’ve found out all the positive effects they have for both children and adults and you want to buy one. Well I have to say, the market right now is excellent, with a wide variety of options out there, in terms of weight, size, and style, but finding the right one for you, the one that will have the biggest impact on your day to day life, that is a challenge. I have been using a weighted blanket myself for around a month now, and it is fantastic. I have been sleeping well, and moment to moment my life feels a lot easier to deal with.

So let’s take a look at what weighted blankets are.

What is a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket is simply a blanket that is heavier than others. Originally they were marketed to children, after a number of studies linked them to an increase in serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for all kinds of things, including relaxation. They come in all kinds of weights and sizes, making it easier to hone in on the right fit. The core of the theory regarding why they work is called Deep Touch Pressure.

What is Deep Touch Pressure?

Finding out more on the mechanisms behind weighted blankets is a touch difficult. I had to cross reference a dozen or so studies to get to the bottom of what was going on. There were hug machine tests done many years back, mainly with farm animals, which showed an increase in relaxation when undergoing uncomfortable procedures. It’s essentially the same thing. Weighted blankets, and weighted vests, both simulate a hug, triggering the release in your brain. This has been shown to reduce anxiety for patients recovering from illness, better focus children with ADHD and allow insomnia suffers to sleep better. Broad spectrum it also helps people who are otherwise unafflicted.

What are Weighted Blankets made from?

A wide variety of solutions are on the market right now. The higher end options all have a separate sheet made from cotton or a material blend. On the inside, there is a blanket that is filled with any of a number of weight adding materials. A well-weighted blanket is consistent in its pressure, so the filler tends to be something quite small. The best use glass beads, hypoallergenic that way, but there are also options out there using plastic pellets or even dry rice.

What to look for when Buying a Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets are still blankets at the end of the day, so the same issues apply to them. You want the best material available in terms of comfort, durability, and porousness. You need to consider the size you need, better to fit your bed, and finally, you need to look into the weight, which changes from person to person.

First the material. I have found a number of all in one options on the market, usually from the lower end, and while they will work, I would advise you avoid them. You need to clean it every so often, and drying a whole blanket is time-consuming. Better to get a two piece weighted blanket. That way you remove the cover when it needs cleaned and stick it back on if the blanket is still good. Saves you time and money. The cover material is important. When I reviewed mattresses I could tell right away where the manufacturer was cutting corners. I prefer cotton, it is easy to clean, robust enough to stand up to nightly use, soft and extremely breathable. There are alternative options, Rayon-blends are actually pretty good, and of course a lycra based cover is also acceptable. If there has to be polyester in it then never settle for anything less than a high cotton blend.

On the inside the only thing we need to worry about is allergens. The vast majority of firms I have checked out make a point that their blankets use hypoallergenic components, and this is great, but I advise that you confirm with the manufacturer if you have specific needs.

Size is the easy bit to get. Beds have set sizes, single, twin, queen, king, cal king, etc, make sure to get a weighted blanket that fits and you are good. There are also nonstandard sizes available from most retailers, so if you want something to just cover you, you can find something to suit there as well. Make sure that when you buy that the blanket is not too big for the bed. A properly fitted weighted blanket should sit nicely on top, if it hangs down the side then you will have an increase in pressure, however slight, and that can have a long-term effect.

Finally, we have the weight, and it is here that we all learn something new. Weighted blankets come typically between five and twenty-five pounds. The informal formula is ten percent of your age plus a pound or two. So that translates for a 40-pound child into a 5-pound blanket. For adults, the same holds true up to around 200 pounds, at which point simply getting the heaviest is your best bet.

Should I Buy a Weighted Blanket?

In all honesty, probably yes. While it is true to say that the people who can benefit most from a weighted blanket, or other weighted clothing, are people with sleep disorders, anxiety, attention disorders, sensory processing disorders and those on the Autistic Spectrum, anyone who deals with stress day to day can reap the benefits, and I think it is safe to say that we all have stressors in our lives. Better sleep can benefit us all.

Weighted Blanket 101 Conclusion

In a growth market like this, we are going to see all kinds of products released. Some will be good, others less so. Be sure to know what your price range is, and what your specific needs are, and I am sure you will find the right weighted blanket for you.

If you would like to know more about the science behind weighted blankets be sure to check out my previous article, which includes a number of key studies on the topic.

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