Weighted blankets are growing fast in popularity right now, with more and more people using them everyday. Today I’m going to be talking about what they are, who can use them and my top 5 benefits of using weighted blankets.
My name is Nikki, and I’m an Autism Specialist. With over 11 years of experience in the field of autism, I’m always trying to keep up with the newest research and items, and weighted blankets are hugely popular in my field. Today I’m so excited to be working with the Happy Linen Company, and sharing more about weighted blankets.
What Are Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are heavy blankets that can be therapeutic for the user. They are designed to be therapeutic blankets and help to relieve stress and promote a sense and feeling of calm for the user. They may be filled with either plastic or glass beads, ball bearings or other heavy fillers. However, knitted weighted blankets use dense yarn to weigh them down.
How Do They Work?
A lot of research and science has gone into weighted blankets. Many autistic individuals have found that deep pressure therapy has a variety of benefits for them, including to help reduce anxiety. Deep pressure is used by occupational therapists all around the world to help individuals on the autism spectrum.
Dr Temple Grandin discovered deep pressure therapy when she was trying to find something to help ease anxieties in autistic individuals without them feeling restricted. She created the idea of a hug machine which was able to gently apply pressure to the user’s body – and this is when she noticed oxytocin being released in the users. All of this research led to the invention of weighted blankets.
Weighted blankets are designed to feel almost like a hug. And this pressure is what helps the body to release oxytocin. And if you’re unsure what oxytocin is – it’s a hormone that will help you feel warm and fuzzy, with reduced feelings of stress and anxiety.
What is Deep Touch Pressure?
Put quite simply, deep touch pressure is a form of tactile sensory input. Think of being held tight, having a big hug, being squeezed, or even simply, vibrations. This input helps to release chemicals in the brain which help us to feel calm, safe and relaxed. Effectively, it relaxes your nervous system.
The Benefits of Using a Weighted Blanket
There are a huge list of benefits from using weighted blankets and it’s important to note that users may all report different benefits to each other. And the benefits can differ depending on the user and what they are seeking too. Today I’m going to share my top 5 benefits of weighted blankets;
- Weighted blankets provide the user with a feeling of security and comfort. I currently have a 7 month old little boy, and when I gave birth, so many professionals were talking about swaddling and the benefits it can have to help newborns feel cosy and safe. And the same feeling can be achieved by using weighted blankets for older children, who meet the minimum weight ratio requirement. The weighted blanket feels like a big hug to them, helping them feel that safe sense of security and cosiness that babies get with swaddling.
- Research has shown that using weighted blankets can help to stimulate the production of serotonin, reduce cortisol and increase levels of melatonin. Serotonin is a mood-boosting hormone, while cortisol is a stress hormone. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you to sleep. All of this can help to improve the overall quality of sleep that the user is getting.
- Weighted blankets can help to improve the mood of the user. They help to increase the product of oxytocin, and like we previously discussed, this is the hormone that your body releases to help you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This, along with the way that the weighted blanket is able to decrease levels of cortisol, can have a huge impact on an individual’s mood.
- Weighted blankets can help your body go into ‘rest mode’ – something that’s very important and beneficial when falling asleep. Our bodies have an autonomic nervous system, and when this is overactive, it can lead to a range of issues. These can include hyperactivity and anxiety. Research has shown that when using a weighted blanket, individuals are able to effectively encourage their body to go into rest mode – and this can help to alleviate the effects from anxiety and hyperactivity.
- And the most important one of all – at least for me and my students that I serve – is that weighted blankets can really help users fall asleep faster and easier, and have overall improved sleep. This can range from staying asleep for longer periods of time, as well as having fewer disruptions and restlessness through the night. This is a huge benefit, and something that so many of my autistic students have struggled with.
Who Can Use a Weighted Blanket?
Anyone can use one! I’m here today as an autism specialist, and weighted blankets are a huge benefit in my community for individuals that I work with, because of the range of benefits, and the research that has gone into them.
Studies have shown that individuals with the following can benefit from using weighted blankets:
- Anxiety – Who may have trouble sleeping.
- ADHD – Can help to improve attention and reduce hyperactivity.
- Insomnia – Can help to reduce disruptions and wake ups through the night.
- PTSD – Can help to relax the nervous system.
And while specific research has been carried out on these particular groups of individuals, it is worthwhile noting that anyone can benefit from using a weighted blanket. However, there are just a few things to be careful with:
- Sometimes users can find they get too hot under the weighted blanket. Always assess the use of blankets depending on the weather and climate of where you are.
- They can be pretty pricey – this is another reason why I love the Happy Linen Company – their prices are so reasonable!
- Sometimes users may need an adjustment period. Weighted blankets can range from 2-13kg. And the advice is that you shouldn’t go above 10% of your body weight when selecting one. Of course, the % of weight can depend on individual users. Some users prefer to use 5% weight, while others may prefer to go on the higher end of the scale towards 10%
- They are considered safe for children aged 3+ and who weigh at least 50 lbs. I would always recommend talking to a GP when you’re considering trying out weighted blankets, especially for young children. And it’s generally best to start at the lower weight range.
So, after much research into weighted blankets, and talking to friends, patients and individuals who have used them, I feel like the increase in the amount of people using weighted blankets is unsurprising.
With so many people who can benefit from using them, and with a small list of cons compared to how many pros, I feel like weighted blankets are one of the best items to come out of research for so many individuals.
The Happy Linen Company have created some amazing weighted blankets that come with a range of benefits. The fact that they have such high cotton % in them, means that the blankets are breathable – and this is key, especially if you’re concerned with being too hot. The cotton can help air to flow freely and this can result in a better experience for the user.
They’ve also designed them to come with removable and washable covers and inner sections – which is genius! There’s nothing worse than getting a gorgeous blanket dirty and then trying to figure out how to wash it. HLC makes this super easy for you!
Their blankets weigh 2.3kg and are suitable for children who are aged 3+ – just remember to always supervise children when using these and keep in mind that 10% body weight recommendation.
I want to extend a special thank you to the Happy Linen Company for inviting me on the blog to share some tips and information about weighted blankets. I hope that this post has answered your questions and helped you understand more about weighted blankets, the research that has gone into them and the benefits that they can provide.
All the best,