For those of you who haven’t heard, there is this thing out there called a weighted blanket. The story goes that it was developed by a guy who has a child with sensory issues. They were out driving one day and she put a Beanie Baby on his shoulders. He thought, “Wow, this feels nice. I wonder what it would be like to have a whole blanket made like this?” So, he created it. Lo and behold, he found out that his child calmed down and was more regulated after sleeping with the blanket.
How Does the Weighted Blanket Work?
How does it work? Well, have you seen the movie Temple Grandin? It’s based on the real life adventures of Temple Grandin, a woman with Autism. In the movie Temple goes to her aunt’s cattle ranch and observes that they use a “squeeze machine” to keep the cattle calm. She knew that she could get really overwhelmed and disregulated and wondered if something like that would help her. She made one and found out that it did.
The squeeze machine and weighted blanket work in the same way. They provide input to the deep pressure touch receptors throughout the body. Deep pressure touch helps the body relax. Like a firm hug, weighted blankets help us feel secure, grounded, and safe. It even works with people who can’t tolerate touch otherwise (such as those with Autism).
What Symptoms Can It Help?
According to a many sources, people may see relief in the following symptoms after using a weighted blanket
Some hospitals are using it. One manufacturer, Cozy Calm, even went through the process of getting their blanket classified as a medical device so that insurance would cover it.
Does It Work?
If you know me, you know I like self-help and I like gadgets. I will try anything once to see if it will work. So, I bought a 16 pound blanket that was big enough to fit over the body. It has flannel on one side and fleece on the other.
The first thing I noticed was that the blanket was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. Blankets come in ranges of about ten pounds to eighteen pounds. The recommended weight will depend on your size. Personal preference will also factor in. Once I got used to it, sixteen pounds was just fine.
The fabric is soft. I like that there were two choices. If you don’t like the way one feels, you can flip it over. This could be a big deal for someone with sensory issues. This also makes a difference as far as how warm the blanket is. Trust me. You don’t want fleece against your skin in the summer. It’s really hot!
Lots of people with sensory issues have sensitivities to chemicals. The blanket I got was filled with non-toxic plastic beads. The fabric was also all natural cotton.
My blanket just covered the body. You can get bigger ones that cover the whole bed. They say that these can be too heavy. The problem with the body sized one is that if you plan on sleeping with it and move at all, the blanket will fall off. I don’t generally have sleep issues, but the heavy blanket falling off and piling up beside me was pretty disruptive. I think if I were to do it over again, I’d go with the bed sized blanket. It’s more expensive, but it won’t fall off if I turn while sleeping.
I am really kinesthetic, so I enjoy the feel of this blanket a lot. People say it has a grounding effect. I totally agree with that. As far as symptom relief of the things listed above, I couldn’t say. I don’t have any of those problems, but based on my experience, I would say it’s worth a try. There is no downside.