What is a Weighted Blanket? Find Out Everything About this Breakthrough Invention
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If you are considering a weighted product for yourself, a friend, family member or child: Please make sure you are well educated on the right weight to use, and whether use of a weighted product would be safe in your specific situation. If you are at all uncertain, please consult a qualified medical practitioner. Material provided on this site is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for qualified medical advice (more info about that here).
Weighted blankets have widely been used within the medical community as a natural stress reliever and insomnia treatment for years on patients with a wide range of conditions.
Nowadays, people all over the globe have started to realize the potential benefits of having a weighted blanket on you while sleeping.
Just like the name sounds, a weighted blanket is a quilt with an extra weight in it, which varies from 5 to 25 lbs., depending on your weight. While it’s not a miraculous quilt, and it has some downsides, you can still reap some astonishing health benefits.
Where Did the Idea Come From?
Weighted comforters made a debut in the mental health communities, where doctors used them to calm their patients. The comforters’ shells were stuffed with heavy filling in order to increase weight, and thus keep a patient relaxed an in place.
The autism communities endorsed this idea and used heavy blankets to help autistic children relieve their special needs.
Caretakers and family members hand sewed weighted blankets and filled them with rice, corn, beans, stones, and even popcorn seeds.
All these fillings were useless, since grains sprouted, stones were too heavy, and many of these options had the outcome of not allowing the quilt to last for long.
With tons of experiment, research, and innovation; modern versions of these heavy blankets provide much more benefits than the older ones. Getting manufacturers all over the world to the point of selling hundreds of high quality weighted blankets every day.
The Innovative Anxiety Blanket
There isn’t a place where people don’t suffer from stress and anxiety, and it gets worse every day.
Anxiety, even the mild one, can cause lots of issues in your life. Most importantly, it can negatively affect your health and lead to diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, insomnia, and depression.
Many researchers compare anxiety with a plague that’s slowly killing the humanity.
No wonder, more and more studies have already been done to ward it off. The anxiety blanket is one of the latest inventions, which can help you reduce your stress levels and sleep better.
Thanks to the weight of this quilt, you’ll feel a soothing sensation and a great level of comfort, helping you fall asleep faster. However, it’s important to choose a 100% non-toxic product.
Do Weighted Blankets Actually Help?
Heavy blankets provide pressure and sensory input for people with different health issues. But you don’t need to have special needs in order to reap the benefits of this comforter. The blanket works as an insomnia fighter and a calming tool, albeit it can comfort and help people with:
- Sensory processing disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Asperger’s syndrome
- ADD/ADHD spectrum disorder
- Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
- Menopause symptoms
- Chemotherapy symptoms
You can use your weighted comforter in different ways. Cover your entire body for sleep, lay it across your legs or lap only, or wrap around your shoulders for an instant hug sensation.
The comforter works by providing an input to every deep pressure touch receptor all over your body. Like a strong and firm hug, this helps your body relax and feel safe, grounded, and secure. That’s why sleeping under such comforter is often recommended when dealing with a range of health conditions.
If you’re interested in purchasing a weighted blanket, here are some popular options:
The Temple Grandin's Squeeze Machine
Also nicknamed the "hug box", the Squeeze Machine ((http://www.grandin.com/inc/squeeze.html)) was an experiment made by Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who made a living as an autism activist and livestock industry consultant.
The purpose of this machine was to provide the sensory stimulation she craved, being unable to feel comfortable being touched, not even say hugged, by other people.
The Hug Box allowed her to control the release and amount of pressure, and manage some of the anxiety symptoms rather efficiently. As applying a safe and deep pressure in a slowly increasing manner for about 5 to 15 minutes, had shown to help her and other autistic individuals to calm down.
Since then, she has been recommending the hug box for autistic children older than 5 years old and for people with a weight less than 250 lbs.
Both a heavy blanket and squeeze machine can cause your body to stimulate the endorphins and serotonin production. These are the chemicals that the body naturally uses to feel calm or relaxed. However, it’s vital to consider all the factors before choosing which one will work for you.
Being used for deep touch stimulation, the Squeeze Machine is known for its calming effect on autistic and hyperactive people. And, while the price of the machine bites, you can find other ways of applying the same pressure therapy to your body, without having to build a new room in your house to fit a huge machine.
As this machine can be compared with weighted blankets, which are known to produce the same soothing and calming effects.
Heavy Quilts vs. Weighted Blankets
There are actually some differences to look at when talking about weighted blankets or heavy quilts. The first one is mostly used in therapeutical or clinical settings, while the latter is usually used to survive the cold season.
A heavy quilt has high down content, usually wool. A great example of it would be your grandma's old and ultra-thick woolen blanket. Wasn’t it so warm and comfortable?
Well, that's its purpose. But being warm and comfortable won't be enough to reach the "therapeutic" status some people need, even if you fold it for times, and place it on you, It wouldn't provide nearly as much pressure as a weighted blanket aims to.
A weighted blanket is specifically designed to be really heavy, and to put pressure on your body. And because of the pellets sewn into its quilted pockets, it can weight a lot, even if it has a small size.
Needless to say, weighted blankets have their pros and cons, depending on your needs.
Look for a blanket that is about 10% of your body weight or weighs between 13 to 26 lbs. If you want to enjoy the benefits we've talked about in this article.
Are There any Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Use a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets still stay a matter of debate, and while there aren't many research-proven health benefits, empiric evidence from occupational therapists all over the world know that they can treat some health conditions.
That said, really heavy blankets can pose a hazard to kids. And a few adults have reported experiencing some muscle ache after sleeping under these comforters. This can happen if the blanket is too heavy for your body weight, or if you have a really low muscle tone.
Everyone is different. While you may find lots of pressure soothing and comfortable, your friend may have trouble falling asleep under, let’s say, 15 lbs. of a comforter with heavy sewed-in beads.
Numerous researches have been done, and only a couple showed some side effects of weighted blankets. Others revealed that the blankets are great at aiding in dealing with certain health conditions, including autism.
If you are investing in a weighted comforter to try another option for solving a health condition, make sure you know your diagnosis well and talk to your therapist about the proper weight of the blanket for you.
As long as you choose the correct weight, you’re less likely to experience any uncomfortable effects.
Finally, pay attention to the blanket’s filling and the fabric it’s made of. These are two critical factors that can play a significant role in how efficient and soothing your weighted quilt will be.