People often ask how a weighted blanket is made and how it works. They are equally curious about what materials weighted blankets are made of. Also, how can the blanket help them fall asleep?
All good questions!
There’s been some scientific research that backs up the concept of a weighted blanket. Here’s what experts tell us:
A weighted blanket provides deep touch pressure that releases the brain chemical serotonin, which is critical to a calm and stable mood.
When serotonin is released, the body also releases melatonin -- which helps to promote sleep and regulate the sleep cycle.
The blanket also improves levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps provide a feeling of relaxation, making you feel at ease.
A therapeutic weighted blanket helps ground your body during sleep which may enhance the deeply calming effect, reducing nighttime levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that has a negative effect on blood sugar, digestion, and immunity.
Overall, the pressure of the weighted blanket provides a calming, soothing environment that is conducive to sleep, helping the anxious person get the rest they need.
It’s like the Thundershirt you might get for your puppy, to help the little one through storms. Or the swaddling you wrap around an infant to keep them feeling secure.
Rather a sweet concept that happens to work!
What are weighted blankets made of?
Here are the basics of these wonderful blankets:
-Weighted blankets have two parts: an outer cover and a weighted inner section.
-Weighted blankets are heavier than the usual comforter or down quilt. They typically weigh between 4 to 30 pounds, as the person’s size (child or adult) will determine the safest weight for that person.
Weighted blankets sometimes come with an outer cover which can be made with a variety of fabrics like cotton, bamboo, polyester & faux fur.
Natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo will generally be cooler in the hotter months than synthetic fabrics however there are some high tech specialized cooling covers that are synthetic that will be even better for breathability and keeping you at a good temperature during the night.
Weighted inner section
The inner section is where the weighted material is held inside small weighted pockets with a layer of fabric sewn on top of it to prevent the beads leaking.
The construction of this section is fairly important and can affect the weight distribution and the durability of a weighted blanket.
Higher quality models will usually result in fewer bead leakages and a longer product life compared to a homemade or cheaper manufactured model.
The layer of fabric that is used for the weighted inner section varies between homemade and professionally made models.
Professionally Manufactured Weighted Blankets
The inner sections layer of fabric is usually made from three materials:
100% cotton fabrics will help keep this section “breathable” to reduce night sweats. Cotton is fairly durable so will last a while if looked after properly -- but it is more expensive than flannel or polyester.
Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world and can grow up to 4 feet per day!
Generally speaking, bamboo is organic although it’s hard to find actual ‘certified organic’ bamboo fabrics. It is considered a more sustainable material than cotton due to its fast growth.
Bamboo has also drawn criticism when it’s made into a wearable fabric as this requires a process which is full of harsh, toxic chemicals.
Despite the criticism, bamboo is even more breathable than cotton so if you’re a really hot sleeper, this might be a good option. The price of bamboo fabric is higher than other fabrics and the fabric isn’t as durable as cotton.
Polyester blankets are the cheapest but won’t serve you well if you are a “hot sleeper.” The positive point is that polyester blankets will last longer. Some people find their skin is sensitive to the fabric as it’s not a natural material and you can get a lot hotter at night!
Homemade weighted blankets
These can be made of various fabrics that are similar to a professionally manufactured model but the difference is usually found in the quality of the workmanship and the materials used.
Most homemade weighted blankets use small bags of sand or plastic pellets for the weighted material that are sewn inside each pocket.
Unfortunately, most homemade versions aren’t easily washed but this all depends on how good the maker is!
What is inside a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets can be filled with a variety of material depending on the manufacturing process or whether it’s been made at home.
Homemade weighted blankets can contain stones, sand, pebbles or any other weighted material which are inserted in the sewn pockets to make it heavy.
Professionally made weighted blankets can contain sand, plastic or glass pellets to add weight. This varies depending on the quality of the brand/manufacturer with the more expensive brands using Quartz glass as this has better weight distribution qualities. The cheaper brands will use plastic poly pellets or sand.
There is also a difference in quality in how the weighted materials are distributed inside the blanket.
Option A: Standard Layering Process
This is the most common way that manufacturers will insert the weighted material into the individual pockets.
They will place a thin layer of padding on the bottom, pour the weighted pellets (usually plastic or sand) on top and then add another layer of padding on top and sew it all together.
This method doesn’t allow for even weight distribution due to the weighted material being able to move around more freely within the squares as it’s not held together which causes clumping.
Option B: Advanced Blending Process
This is usually found in more expensive models as it takes longer to complete in the factory so adds extra cost.
The process involves blending the weighted pellets (usually made from glass) with the padding material so that it combines together evenly and prevents it from coming loose when in use.
By using this process it significantly improves the weight distribution as it helps everything remain evenly balanced for longer.
What size blankets are recommended to choose?
The size isn’t the most important thing as you can use a queen weighted blanket on a king bed -- or on a twin bed -- and vice versa (for twin- or king-size blankets).
However, if you are really tight on space, pick a weighted blanket that fits your bed size whether it’s a twin, queen or king.
The larger sized Queen & King blankets are designed for use as bedspreads. Also, many adults who toss & turn find that a Queen-sized weighted blanket is ideal -- as they can ‘shift around’ until it feels right. To be aware of all nuances, we recommend you our article about the best way to sleep with a weighted blanket.
If you buy according to body size - rather than bed size - you’re less likely to find your weighted blanket in a heap on the floor. Gravity does have an effect on a weighted blanket, after all, and a too large blanket can be a heap on the floor by morning!