How Do Weighted Blankets Work? What are They For?

how do weighted blankets work

The right blanket might make you feel like you’re receiving a giant, warm hug from someone. While it may seem obvious, have you ever thought about your blanket’s weight? Weighted blankets work to provide more comfort and can be very beneficial to your health compared to a regular blanket.

Weighted blankets are available in various sizes, shapes, colors, and materials to accommodate your tastes. Tiny plastic pellets are typically employed to bulk up the weight of these items. Small children should be wrapped in blankets with a few extra pounds. Some may have had their weight boosted by as much as 20 pounds or more, making them more fit for use by adults.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work? - Summary

What is a Weighted Blanket?

Generally speaking, therapeutic blankets weighing between 5 and 30 pounds are weighted blankets. The pressure created by the added weight is similar to a treatment known as deep pressure stimulation or pressure therapy to combat anxiety and promote melatonin.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

weighted blanket and how it works

Weighted blankets, on the whole, are more comfortable and cozy because of their inherent warmth. Breathability makes some cooling models suitable for year-round use. According to the standard rule of thumb, weighted blankets should be about 10% of a person’s weight. A bulky blanket can make it challenging to move around and unpleasant to wear.

When using a weighted blanket, you’ll experience the same hugging sensation you’d get from a friend. This change influences several hormones that regulate mood and sleep.

Melatonin

Melatonin is the hormone that helps you fall asleep. Daylight lowers melatonin, keeping you awake. As night falls and natural light diminishes, melatonin production increases, signaling the brain to sleep.

This hormone is commonly raised by artificial light exposure before night, even if you are sleep-deprived. Weighted blankets have been proved and work to increase melatonin levels, making them the perfect night companion!

Cortisol

Cortisol influences metabolism, immunological response, and stress. It should be circadian, like other hormones. High amounts of cortisol in the morning help you stay awake, while low levels in the evening help you relax and sleep peacefully.

However, most people’s cortisol levels do not follow a regular trend. In the evening, cortisol levels are often too high, causing anxiety, irritability, and stress.

According to Massachusetts College studies, “Using a weighted blanket reduced anxiety in 63% of respondents and soothing effects in 78%.”

Serotonin

Weighted blankets work in increasing Serotonin and is called the “happy hormone” for a reason! Elevated levels significantly improve the feel-good factor! Depleted levels can cause depression, anxiety, and insomnia. In addition to regular exercise, a good diet, and a weighted blanket!

“Deep pressure stimulation boosted serotonin levels by 28% in test individuals”, says the International Journal of Neuroscience.

What Exactly is a Weighted Blanket?

Compared to a comforter or down quilt, weighted blankets are more complicated and heavier to make. When you buy a weighted blanket, you get a blanket that has been filled with plastic pellets or metal shavings, or glass beads to make it heavier.

Occupational therapists’ use of sensory integration techniques has been around for many years to aid children with sensory issues. Every blanket should be chosen depending on the person’s body weight to achieve the best effects – approximately 8-12 percent of the person’s body weight. The safest weight for a person will be determined by the person’s height and weight (child or adult).

The blanket comprises numerous layers and weighs anywhere from 4 to 30 pounds. The gradually calming power of the weighted blanket is derived from these layers that make it up.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Weighted Blanket?

As a sort of deep pressure therapy, weighted blankets give many advantages, including a rise in serotonin, decreased heart rate, and much more.

Elevates the Mood

It has been shown that sleeping with a weighted blanket can boost one’s mood. A weighted blanket causes a rise in oxytocin synthesis, a feel-good hormone. The decrease in the stress hormone cortisol can profoundly affect one’s mental state.

Reduces Nervous System Activity

Anxiety, hyperactivity, and many other problems can result from an overactive autonomic nervous system. Anxiety symptoms such as shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate can be reduced by using a weighted blanket to put your nervous system into “rest mode.”.

Reduces Movement in the Night

Having a weighted blanket on top of the body as you sleep will help lessen the tossing and turning you do at night. Using a weighted blanket can minimize nighttime twitching, contributing to a more restful night’s sleep.

Improves Ability to Communicate

Deep pressure stimulation has also improved communication, particularly in autistic youngsters. This benefit may be due to the user’s experience of security and stability.

Calming and Relaxing Effects

As a result, weighted blankets are frequently used to help calm people who are worried or suffer from a disorder that makes them hyperactive. From college students to animals, weighted blankets have proven beneficial.

Improves Sleeping Habits

Studies reveal that those who use a weighted blanket tend to have fewer interruptions in their sleep and a more extended period of uninterrupted rest. A weighted blanket has also been shown to help people fall asleep more quickly.

Enhances a Sense of Safety

Swaddling with weighted blankets has been shown to boost emotions of security. You can use this emotion to improve your sleep and alleviate your sleep anxiety.

How Weighted Blankets Work for Medical Conditions?

Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the key reasons for using a weighted blanket. Autonomic arousal can be reduced by deep pressure stimulation. Many of the physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by this arousal, such as an elevated heart rate.

Awakenings in the Nighttime

A variety of circumstances can cause sleep disturbances. There are a few easy ways that weighted blankets can aid. You may benefit from the additional stress in calming down your pulse rate and respiration. If you’re having trouble winding down before bed, try this.

Chronic Pain

Anxiety and chronic pain are difficult to diagnose because of their symptoms. However, weighted blankets may provide relief for some who suffer from chronic pain.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, conducted a 2021 study by trusted source and found that weighted blankets improved chronic pain perceptions. Over one week, ninety-four people with chronic pain utilized either a light or a heavy blanket. Anxiety sufferers, in particular, benefited from using a weighted blanket. However, the intensity of agony was not lessened by the weighted blankets.

ADHD

Weighted blankets were used in a 2014 study that examined weighted blankets to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to the findings of this study, weighted vests have been utilized in ADHD therapy to improve attention and minimize hyperactive movements.

 

According to the study, participants who wore a weighted vest for a continuous performance test showed encouraging outcomes. These participants saw a decrease in the number of times they left their chairs, fidgeted, or fell off the task.

What are the Health Risks of a Weighted Blanket?

In general, weighted blankets are safe for adults, older children, and teenagers who are in good health and have no medical conditions. Using a weighted blanket on a child under the age of 2 is not recommended due to the risk of asphyxia. Developmental problems or delays in older children can put them in danger of asphyxia.

Weighted blankets have been implicated in the deaths of two children, one a 7-month-old infant and the other a 9-year-old autistic kid. For children of any age, parents should first check with their doctor before using a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are not recommended for persons who feel claustrophobic, as they may exacerbate rather than alleviate their symptoms.

How Heavy Should Weighted Blankets Be?

When looking for a weighted blanket, you shouldn’t pick the heaviest one. Your weighted blanket’s weight/size should be calculated based on your weight. This is to prevent you from feeling imprisoned or burdened when using it. A weighted blanket should be 10% of your body weight, plus or minus one or two pounds.

Weighted Blanket Weight Guidance

Below is the guide for the ratio of your body weight on weighted blanket:

Bodyweight: Weighted blanket weight

100 – 120lbs : 10 – 12lbs

120 – 140lbs : 12 – 14lbs

140 – 160lbs : 14 – 16lbs

160 – 180lbs : 16 – 18lbs

180 – 200lbs : 18 – 20lbs

How Long Does It Take a Weighted Blanket to Work?

A weighted blanket may need up to 14 days to fully adjust to the work according to your body weight and medical health. Adapting to a new weighted blanket can take anywhere from 14 to 21 days, giving your body time to adjust.

Allow your body to acclimatize to the added weight, whether or not this is the first time you’ve used a weighted blanket. Don’t hurriedly do the task! To help your body acclimate, we suggest using the weighted blanket for shorter lengths of time at first.

We recommend covering half of your body with the blanket for about a week to see whether it helps for nighttime sleep. You are welcome to use your regular comforter or flat sheet during this time. Slowly but surely, you’ll be able to cover yourself with the blanket after the week is up!

Do Weighted Blankets Make You Hot?

You might be wondering why weighted cooling blankets are more popular than hot weighted blankets. Nonetheless, the use of a weighted blanket is sometimes misinterpreted. Despite being thicker than ordinary down comforters, these blankets are not too warm.

The fabric of the blanket is an essential factor to consider. You can get too much heat if you buy a weighted blanket out of flannel or fleece. As a result, the blanket retains heat beneath the blanket because the fabric is constructed of synthetic fibers, which are not permeable. If you’re sensitive to heat or want to sleep at a specific temperature, there are a few disadvantages in the summer.

When to Clean a Weighted Blanket?

Cleaning a weighted blanket, whether under a duvet or on top of a sheet, on average, four times a year is recommended. When used on the body, it will need to be cleaned more frequently. A blanket’s filling material will also influence how it should be cleaned. Fleece, flannel, and polyester are all common materials for these blankets.

As a result of their unique design, weighted blankets demand special attention. In these blankets, several dozen pockets are filled with specific weighted objects.

Frequently Asked Questions about Weighted Blankets

How do weighted blankets work for anxiety?

Weighted blankets work in assisting in reducing anxiety by giving deep pressure contact. Dopamine and serotonin, two of the brain’s feel-good hormones, may be released. These hormones can help alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

What are the side effects of a weighted blanket?

Due to the blanket’s added warmth, the most common and least bothersome side effect is that it causes sleepers to perspire. Ensure that the weighted blanket does not cover your face while you sleep, as this could lead to asphyxia. Reflexes are slower in patients with respiratory issues, leading to sleep apnea.

How are weighted blankets weighted?

You must select the appropriate weight for your weighted blanket based on your requirements. Determine the recipient’s size, then compare it to the weight range offered by several manufacturers to get the suitable weighted quilt or duvet. A weighted blanket should be 10% of your body weight or less.

Are weighted blankets hot?

Not necessarily. It depends mainly on the fabric of the weighted blanket. You should avoid buying a weighted blanket with fleece or flannel covering as it can capture more heat, and you may be sweating. Otherwise, weighted blankets are suitable for every season.

Are weighted blankets safe for toddlers?

Toddlers should not be given weighted blankets without any elder’s guidance as it can lead to checking and suffocation due to the weight of the blanket. It would be best to be with kids older than 2 years while sleeping under weighted blankets.

Conclusion

Weighted blankets are an at-home measure that can provide similar benefits to deep pressure therapy. These blankets have shown positive results for several conditions, including autism, ADHD, and anxiety. They can help calm a restless body, reduce feelings of anxiety, and improve sleep troubles.

When choosing a weighted blanket for yourself, find a snug size around 10 percent of your body weight. I hope that this post about weighed blankets will be helpful for you to understand how weighted blankets work and their benefits and risks.

Mike Horton (head of Weighted Living)

by Mike Horton

Mike is one of the lead editors at Weighted Living and the author of this article. He's become fascinated with weighted products (a bit too much we think) and loves to see all the different ways they can improve our loves. He's written quite a few weighted product guides as well.

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