01 Mar Weighted Blankets – the low down
By Jolandi Becker – MD of Good Night
The popularity of weighted blankest has increased in the last couple of years. However, these blankets have been around for quite some time, especially in the Occupational Therapy field.
What is a weighted blanket?
It is pretty much exactly what it says. It is a blanket that is filled with something (usually plastic pellets) designed to make the blanket heavier to give a sense of deep pressure. It is like a hug you can take with you and have all the time.
Benefits of a weighted blanket
Who wouldn’t like sleeping in a permanent hug? The “hug” gives feelings of safety, relaxation, and comfort based on the principles of Deep Touch Pressure or Deep Pressure Stimulation.
Weighted blankets are effective as a calming tool, helping children to relax or sleep. These heavier blankets are especially beneficial for children with SPD, ADHD and those who are on the Autistic Spectrum.
They are especially beneficial to restless sleepers. The calming pressure helps to reduce cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone, and in turn boosts the production of serotonin, the hormone that makes us happy. Other benefits include:
- Lowers levels of stress and anxiety
- Eases Restless legs
- Improves sensory processing disorder
- Improves sleep, especially insomnia.
- Improves focus, especially for those who have ADHD
- Hugs you without having to ask or needing another person
Are they safe to use?
The most important part when it comes to safety is to choose an appropriate-sized weighted blanket. This is not a one-size-fits-all product, especially when it comes to children. Weighted blankets should be chosen according to the individual’s weight and age. The weight should be about 10% of the user’s body weight. Weighted blankets can pose a choking hazard to very young children if the pellets fall out of the blanket. It’s sensible to select good quality blankets and check that the seams are secure.
Because the blankets are custom-made for the individual according to their weight, it is said that even babies could use it. HOWEVER, The American Academy of Pediatrician’s (AAP) sleep safe recommendations for children include not using blankets (any blankets) with children under one-year-old because they pose a risk of strangulation and increase the risk of SIDS. Weighted blankets are no exception to this.
Disadvantages of Weighted blanket
In this heat who wants to be sleeping with a permanent hug? Especially for those with claustrophobia, sleep apnea, asthma, and blood pressure problems, the weighted blanket can feel suffocating.
Weighted blankets are expensive since they are custom made.
The fact remains that many medical professionals from around the world agree that deep pressure stimulation helps to relax and soothe the human body, which makes weighted blankets an option to consider.