When Were Weighted Blankets Invented? History of Weighted Blankets

when were weighted blankets invented

With the advent of weighted blankets, people worldwide are becoming more interested in them. Although they are now available for anyone to purchase, they were once used for therapeutic purposes. There are numerous different benefits a weighted blanket can provide its users, including reducing anxiety and improving sleep.

If you suffer from sleepless nights repeatedly, weighted blankets may be the answer. The cozy blankets may look and feel like comforters, but they are stuffed with glass beads or plastic pellets weighing up to 25 pounds inside. Since its popularity has skyrocketed, they have become a major player in the wellness and health industry. This article will explain when weighted blankets were invented & how they are gaining popularity.

When Were Weighted Blankets Invented: Summary

When Were Weighted Blankets Invented?

Keith Zivalich the inventor of weighted blankets

Weighted blankets have been around for over 20 years despite their apparent newness. Weighted blankets were invented in 1997 by Keith Zivalich, who sold the first blanket the following year. Over the last few decades, weighted blankets have become an international phenomenon thanks to their ability to provide deep pressure stimulation. The early days of their use were dedicated to helping kids with autism and other special needs. The popularity of weighted blankets increased greatly during 2010, and they were everywhere by 2017.

In many studies, weighted blankets have been found to impact sleep patterns, anxiety, and stress levels. A recent study showed that 33% of participants with overactive nervous systems experienced a decrease in activity with weighted blankets. Additionally, 63% of these participants reported feeling less anxious and stressed. Also, 78% of participants said that weighted blankets helped to reduce anxiety episodes.

History of Weighted Blankets

Keith Zivalich making the first weighted blankets

An early version of a weighted blanket was created by Keith Zivalich, called the “Beanie Blanket.” The company behind Beanie Babies then sent him a cease and desist letter, so he settled on the name “Bean Blanket.” Weighted blankets gained popularity among the special needs community during the early and mid-2000s. In 2010, Zivalich changed the name of his Bean Blanket to “Magic Weighted Blanket.” 

Gravity weighted blanket kickstarter campaign in 2017

The first weighted blankets gained mainstream popularity in 2017. Science news site Futurism raised almost $5 million through a Kickstarter campaign for a product called Gravity Blanket in 2017. After re-branding the product and marketing it as a stress reducer and sleep aid, the company sold more than 128,000 units. 

In 2018, Time magazine cited the Gravity Blanket as the best invention of 2018 for its “blankets that ease anxiety” feature. Despite not inventing the weighted blanket, Futurism excelled at marketing it to mainstream audiences. According to The Atlantic, the popularity of weighted blankets is directly related to the success of Gravity Blankets. 

Throughout 2018, weighted blankets were sold at retail stores worldwide, and by the end of the year, they were on nearly every gift guide online. The products have gained popularity in recent years, but medical doctors say more research is needed to verify the effectiveness of these products as sleep aids and stress reducers.

How Did The Weighted Blanket Become So Popular So Soon?

Kim Kardashian promoting weighted blankets

The popularity of weighted blankets among celebrities and social media users has increased significantly in the past year. However, they were predominantly used to treat special needs children before being featured on Kourtney Kardashian’s Twitter page. It was Tina Champagne in 1999 who used the first weighted blankets to treat patients suffering from mental and physical trauma. 

In recent years, weighted blankets have become very popular due to the widespread reach of the internet and social media. People who have benefited from weighted blanket use share their stories through social media so that other people will be inspired. For skeptics, scientific studies support the positive effects of weighted blankets.

According to a study, adults suffering from chronic insomnia reported better sleep when sleeping with a weighted blanket. Many respondents reported that weighted blankets made it easier for them to settle, slept better, and woke feeling more refreshed. In another study, 63% of those sleeping with a weighted blanket reported feeling less anxious, and 78% said they felt calmer. 

Furthermore, research has shown that weighted blankets help increase levels of serotonin, the “happy hormone,” which helps relieve chronic pain conditions and restless leg syndrome. Then again, if you have a claustrophobic disposition, you might not find them a good stress-relieving solution.

Benefits of Weighted Blankets

Provides better sleep

Those who suffer from sensory issues or insomnia often find it difficult to fall asleep. Researchers have found that using a heavy blanket can prevent a person from moving around during the night, thereby improving sleep.

Relaxing like never before

When you use a weighted blanket, you will experience total relaxation. A recent study found that people who use weighted blankets regularly experience deep relaxation. That’s why they are the perfect choice for people with stress and anxiety. Your hyperactive mind can be kept in check with this method, allowing you to relax when you’re stressed.

Helps your body produce melatonin

Our sleep time, or circadian rhythm, is regulated by melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Melatonin appears to be connected to serotonin, and, when triggered by the weight of a heavy blanket, it also produces melatonin. In patients who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, deep touch pressure stimulation has been found to increase melatonin levels. Weighted blankets can help boost your serotonin levels and melatonin levels.

Feels like a hug

Getting a hug from a family member or a friend is often pleasant. This results in the body releasing oxytocin, which has been shown to lower blood pressure, make people feel relaxed, and even lower heart rates. Weighted blankets produce the same sensation you get when you use them, allowing your body to relax and become calm.

Helps reduce anxiety levels

Several anxiety disorders can drastically affect the quality of our lives, including disrupting our sleep, sleep disorders, gaining or losing weight, and even mood swings. Although you may believe that adults are the only ones who suffer from anxiety attacks, you may be surprised to find that children can also suffer from them. Weighted blankets have been shown to calm the nervous system, potentially lowering anxiety levels before stressful events. It is one of the most attractive features of weighted blankets we have seen.

Reduces chronic pain

Massage therapy is quite commonly used to treat chronic pain. Despite their high price and inconvenient nature, weighted blankets can serve as excellent alternatives. As they apply light pressure, they can ease chronic pain similar to massages.

Frequently Asked Questions

When were weighted blankets introduced?

For years, special-needs communities have used weighted blankets as sleep aids and calming aids. Occupational therapist Tina Champagne first used weighted blankets in 1999 to help some patients with mental illness.

Weighted blankets: who invented them?

Keith Zivalich, the inventor of weighted blankets, was inspired to develop them. His inspiration came after he felt a relaxing hugging sensation after his daughter placed a beanie baby on his shoulder, a ’90s cult toy filled with beans. 

The popularity of weighted blankets began when?

Weighted blankets have gained increasing popularity in recent years. There are many medical conditions for which they can be used therapeutically, including sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, autism, insomnia, ADHD, and simply getting a good night’s sleep. The blanket simulates deep pressure touch therapy (DPTS), which is the same as swaddling a baby in a blanket. Weighted blanket sales have skyrocketed since 2016, leading to the launch of hundreds of new companies. People worldwide have welcomed weighted blankets with open arms, which has recently brought them into the limelight.

What was the initial filling of the weighted blanket?

Initially, weighted blankets were made by family members or caregivers who wanted to relieve their children or loved ones who have special needs. The blanket was usually filled with rice, corn, beans, stones, popcorn seeds, or anything else to provide extra weight. Over time, weighted blankets have evolved in terms of design and material filling.

Conclusion

Weighted blankets have become the latest craze over the past few years. Among wellness items, these blankets have reached a new level of popularity. Weighed blankets were invented in the United States in 1997 and are now becoming more popular worldwide with growing markets. 

Weighted blankets are not conclusively proven to be effective for treating any health condition. However, they are very comfortable, and many people enjoy using them. Weighted blankets are similar to deep pressure therapy and can help people feel better at home. Several conditions, such as autism, ADHD, and anxiety, have shown positive results with these blankets. The use of weighted blankets can reduce anxiety and restlessness, improve sleep, and calm restless bodies. Give one a try if you’re someone who wants a comfortable night’s sleep.

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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