Every parent knows to swaddle their newborn in a blanket. The blanket provides the infant with feelings of security and warmth, so the infant will feel soothed. This comforting feeling helps the tiny infant get the sleep they need to thrive.
Dogs have their thundershirts to calm them down. Humans can get the same benefit from a weighted blanket!
As we get older, a hug helps calm us when we encounter situations that cause anxiety and stress. The physical connection that you feel provides a sense of warmth and safety that helps the body relax.
Sleep medicine research shows that a weighted blanket creates a physical connection that is similar to a hug. This stimulates multiple positive effects on hormones affecting the nervous system, helping to reduce anxiety and improving mood and stress levels.
In fact, the blanket is often referred to as a pressure blanket as it creates a sense of being swaddled.
Weighted Blankets 101
You might have done your ‘homework’ about this purchase. You have seen the studies about effects -- how they can help relieve anxiety, stress, pain, and other health conditions related to the nervous system.
People with autism, ADHD, arthritis, panic disorder, PTSD, anxiety, restless leg syndrome can see improvements when sleeping with a weighted blanket. Also, they may fall asleep more easily and have improved sleep during the night.
A weighted blanket can even help support people with ordinary insomnia to get better sleep at night.
If you have a stressful lifestyle and have trouble settling down, or a busy mind that you just can’t shut off, you might be a prime candidate. You try all the tricks in the book, but sleep doesn’t come. Until you try a weighted blanket.
Overall, the deep touch stimulation provides a calming effect that can help support lowered blood pressure and reduced anxiety. The insomniac can get the rest they need, researchers say.
How much weight should there be in a weighted blanket?
If you’re ready to try one, you have likely faced some interesting questions:
- How heavy should a weighted blanket be?
- Can a weighted blanket be too heavy?
The weight of your blanket is indeed a very important question to answer. Heavy blankets can be problematic for a child or frail elderly person. If the blanket is too heavy and they can’t remove it easily, it’s not a good option for them.
It should be based on the person’s size -- not the bed’s size. For example, you can use a Queen size on a Twin or King size bed. However larger sizes such as a King-size weighted blankets might look a bit better on your bed than a smaller Twin size.
A weighted blanket for adults will be much heavier than a weighted blanket for kids. Companies tend to sell the adult versions in a weight range between 12 or 30 LBs.
Children's versions should be much lighter, ranging from 2 LB to 10 LB. In some cases, you may find they provide a correct weight chart to help you identify the right weight for your use.
If your body weight is relatively heavy for your height, you will find that you can easily use a heavier weight blanket.
A Recommended Weight Chart will typically advise that you pick a size between 7-12% of your body weight. This really depends on personal preference. Some people love the heavier feeling whereas some people just like to feel gently hugged.
We typically recommend adding a few pounds above 10 percent. Look for a weight chart when you order your blanket, as this will make the decision easier.
To benefit from deep touch pressure, the standard medical advice is to match the user’s body weight with a blanket that is a few pounds heavier than 10 percent.
Weighted inner section:
To better understand the “weight” aspect, it helps to know the 3 main methods for creating the weighted inner section. This construction will have an effect on weight distribution and durability.
These are made of cotton, wool or polyester. They are made by sewing together pieces of fabric with small pockets which are filled with the weighted material -- grains, sand, rice, plastic beads, beans or even aquarium stones. Then another piece of fabric is layered on top and everything is hand-stitched together to seal it inside.
Homemade blanket makers usually don’t have access to industrial sewing machines. This means there’s a higher risk of the beads leaking due to burst stitches. The weight can also end up being unevenly distributed. However, this all depends on the makers sewing skills!
Another note: while these blankets are cheaper, one made with organic materials will carry a mold/mildew risk and can attract insects.
Standard Manufactured Layering Process:
This is the most common way used. The manufacturer inserts the material into individual pockets. They will place a thin layer of padding on the bottom, and pour the pellets on top. Then they add another layer of padding on top and sew it all together.
Plastic poly pellets are the traditional filling used. The best quality poly pellets are 100% virgin polypropylene. Make sure the pellets are suitable for machine washing/drying as not all poly pellets are rated for a high temperature.
The problem? Plastic pellets may give off an odor. Also, the standard layering method doesn’t provide even weight distribution across the blanket. This is because the weighted material can move around more freely in the squares -- as it’s not held together, which causes clumping.
3. Advanced Blending Process:
More expensive blankets (usually!) use this technique as it takes longer to complete in the factory due to added complexity = extra cost. The process involves blending the weighted pellets (usually made from glass) with the padding material so that they are combined together evenly.
With this method, the weight is a lot more evenly distributed across the body!
Micro glass beads are ideal. There is no odor, and they are much smaller than poly pellets. Their small size means they can be used more densely inside the blanket. Also, the blanket will lay more softly and will be washer/dryer-friendly.
This advanced process creates a very durable one that will last a long time!
The weight distribution is an important aspect for the blanket to do its job -- helping to reduce stress and improve sleep.
How can you best assess these features? Simply read the fine print in the product description. Look at the size of the squares -- because smaller squares will result in better weight distribution. Just remember that when the squares are too tiny, the blanket will not provide the benefits you are seeking. Hundreds of tests have shown that an optimal per-square size is 11cm x 11cm.
Conclusion: How to pick a weighted blanket
To make sure you get one that suits you, here are a few steps to follow. Weigh yourself -- and then pick a blanket that is between 7-12% of your bodyweight.
The physical size of the blanket should be based on the person’s size -- not the bed’s size. As long as it covers your body properly and you can remove it easily, it’s ok to use!
Remember, this comes down to personal preference!
Some people like it a lot heavier than others, but 99% of the time the recommended weight chart is accurate.