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What Are Weighted Blankets And How Do They Work?

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What Are Weighted Blankets And How Do They Work?

June 7th, 2021

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 21 seconds. Contains 870 words

What you need to know about Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are the latest product flooding the Sleep trend markets. Available in various fabrics, shapes and sizes, weighted blankets are blankets that are made up of pockets filled with pellets or beads. They have been all the rage for some time now, promising everything from a better night’s sleep to regulating body temperature and even helping to ease anxiety.

The weighted blanket as we know it today has been around since 1997, when it was invented by Keith Zivalich of California, USA. One day whilst driving, Keith’s daughter placed a Beanie Baby – a popular plush toy at the time, usually in the shape of a bear and filled with hundreds of weighted beans – on his shoulder. Keith noticed how the little bear hugged his shoulder and stayed in place even while he was driving. It was then that Keith thought of the idea of filling a blanket with these same beads, and he and his wife invented a prototype for the first weighted blanket for kids.

It was the special needs community who truly fell in love with Keith’s new blankets, with reports that the blanket acted as an anxiety blanket for children who experienced ASD or sensory processing disorder. Eventually, parents of special needs children remarked that they would love a blanket of their own, and they reported the same calming affects as their children. From there, Keith’s niche product grew, until it was picked up by Forbes in 2014 and surged in popularity as time went on.


Why Do Weighted Blankets Help With Anxiety?


It is worth noting that there is no sound scientific studies that conclude that weighted blankets help to alleviate anxiety in the same way that therapy can. Harvard Medical School cannot conclusively comment on weighted blankets effectiveness, but it has concluded that, like many coping mechanisms developed to assist with mental health, the effectiveness of anxiety blankets varies from person to person. After all, heavy blankets are used as soothing mechanisms within psychiatric units, along with other sensory practices such as holding cold objects or doing arts and crafts in order to instil a sense of peace.

With this being said, whether a weighted blanket for anxiety is a good idea, comes down to the individual – and the general consensus from medical professionals is that they certainly won’t do you any harm. If you suffer from other sleep conditions such as, sleep apnea, respiratory conditions or certain sleep or chronic disorders, you should always check with your doctor). In essence, a weighted blanket can act as a form of security, just as swaddling does to a baby, and in doing so alleviate anxiety and the nervous system within an individual.


Are Weighted Blankets Good For Autism?

As we’ve discussed above, Keith Zivalich’s original weighted blanket for children was created for children within the special needs community. Occupational therapists often use weighted vests and lap bags with children before they choose an anxiety blanket, but they do believe that placing deep pressure on their joints, autistic children can feel a sense of presence and comfort. It is still debated whether or not weighted blankets provide enough of this deep pressure, however in one study both the participants and their parents preferred a weighted blanket over the regular kind.


Can Weighted Blankets Help You Sleep?


Weighted blanket enthusiasts report that their blankets improve the sleep/wake by positively affecting the production of serotonin. This hormone – also known as the “happy hormone” – in turn produces melatonin, which is the chemical that gives us a rested night’s sleep. Similarly to claims that weighted blankets assist with anxiety, the jury is still out on whether or not weighted blankets truly affect users’ circadian rhythms, and if the benefits of weighted blankets simply come down to clever advertising.


What Is The Best Weighted Blanket?

The best weighted blanket for you will depend on a few factors, including your body weight; the general rule is to have a weighted blanket that is approximately ten per cent of your body weight. It is also recommended that for safety, the blanket should not be more than ten per cent of an adult’s body weight. For children, the blanket should be about five percent of their body weight. Additionally, children under the age of two – or those who do not have the motor skills to move a blanket – should never use a weighted blanket.

Another factor to take into account is that, while there are weighted blankets for couples, their effectiveness comes down to the individual using the blanket. Therefore, individual blankets are recommended.

Although there is little scientific evidence behind weighted blankets, if you’re the type of person who likes to be cosy, ready for sleep, perhaps it’s worth trying for yourself.

Whether or not you’re on the side of weighted blankets, there’s no denying that a regular blanket or quilt can get the job done, keeping you comfortable throughout the year. To find a quilt that best suits you, take a look at our catalogue of hand-selected quilts online or in-store. Or perhaps you’re looking for a whole new sleep solution, check out our amazing range of mattresses, and find out what your options are with our Find Your Mattress survey today.