Weighted blankets are a popular new solution to some problems, but the concept has also been around for many years! People who remember sleeping in a cold room with a pile of their grandmother’s heavy quilts on top to keep them warm often have a sense of how calm they were and how well they slept. Now, science has shown that there is proof behind the pile of heaviness that actually works to provide physical, mental, and emotional health benefits.
Weighted blankets employ the use of deep pressure touch therapy (DPT), using the weight of the blanket to ground your body toward the center of gravity. Benefits of this type of pressure include the release of serotonin (‘happy’ hormones), the reduction of stress, a sense of calm, alleviation of depression and anxiety, and help for people with ADHD, autism, insomnia, Alzheimer’s and other health concerns.
As the acceptance of weighted blankets has grown, experts have learned that using a weighted blanket is much more beneficial if it can be precisely designed to meet the needs of the person using it. More than just a random pile of heavy quilts, weighted blankets are made to exact size and weight specifications based on the size of the person using it. This helps to be sure that the use of the weighted blanket is safe and the gains the most benefits possible without causing too much pressure on the person using it.
Sharing weighted blankets between family members is probably not a great idea, as each person using a weighted blanket should probably have their own. This is especially true if a smaller person is using a weighted blanket intended for a larger person. In fact, this could even be unhealthy because a small person could feel trapped or be unable to move if they are using a weighted blanket is too heavy.
Because weighted blankets are a bit of a financial investment, you want to be sure that you are making a wise purchasing decision by getting the right size blanket for the person who will be using it.
How Much Should A Weighted Blanket Weigh?
Many experts and licensed therapists recommend that weighted blankets for children and younger teens should be approximately 10% of the intended user’s body weight, plus one or two more pounds. For older teens and adults, this formula may be too heavy and you might want to lighten that up just a bit. It is important to remember that, for safety reasons, weighted blankets are not for babies under the age of one year and should only be used for toddlers if recommended by a therapist, doctor, or other medical professional.
This chart is often used to determine the appropriate weight of for a weighted that will be used by a child:
Child Body Weight Suggested Blanket Weight
20 lbs 3-4 lbs
30 lbs 4-5 lbs
40 lbs 5-6 lbs
50 lbs 6-7 lbs
60 lbs 7-8 lbs
70 lbs 8-9 lbs
80 lbs 9-10 lbs
90 lbs 10-11 lbs
This chart has been used by many adults to determine how heavy their weighted blanket should be:
Adult Body Weight Suggested Blanket Weight
90-110 lbs 10-11 lbs
110-120 lbs 11-12 lbs
120-140 lbs 12-14 lbs
140-160 lbs 14-16 lbs
160-180 lbs 16-18 lbs
180-200 lbs 19-21 lbs
200-250 lbs up to 25 lbs
The exception to this would be for a person who is particularly frail and be unable to move if the weighted blanket is 10% of their body weight. In this case, it is better to start out with a lower weighted blanket to be sure the person is safe.
If you are considering the use of a weighted blanket, particularly for a child with a diagnosed condition, it is important to take the advice of your occupational therapist or other medical professional. It is important to be sure that you have the type of blanket that will work best for your child’s particularly situation.
Other Factors to Consider About Weighted Blankets
More than just knowing how heavy a weighted blanket should be, other considerations may need to be made before making a purchase. Here are some things you need to look into as you decide on which weighted blanket to buy:
- Fabric. Because weighted blankets can tend to make people feel very warm, it is important to choose fabrics that allow the skin to breathe and don’t trap the heat any more than necessary. Cotton is a popular fabric for weighted blankets because of its natural wicking abilities.
- Sensory Issues. Some people who use weighted blankets are particularly susceptible to sensory concerns. This means that itchy or scratchy fabrics may bother them. Also, people who are using a weighted blanket for its calming effects may find that a soft, minky fabric on one side of the blankets provides a soothing benefit. This may be especially true for children who have sensory issues.
- Filling. The filling of a weighted blanket may be made from glass beads, sand, or plastic pellets. Be sure that the beads you choose are non-toxic and not unhealthy in any way if they happen to leak out of the blanket. Also, some companies use a soft and fluffy polyester filling along with the weighted beads. In every case, be sure that there is no material used in the blanket that could cause an allergic reaction for the person using it.
- Size. Weighted blankets can range from a very small lap blanket to a king size comfort that is meant to be used by two people on a huge bed. The available sizes depend solely on the manufacturer making the blanket and what they tend to offer.
The use of a weighted blanket can make a significant difference in the function of the lives of people with so many difficulties. From promoting healthy sleep patterns and calming hyperactivity to relieving chronic pain, weighted blankets come with a significant number of benefits. Many people who have become accustomed to using a weighted blanket say that it has changed their lives and they would never go back to trying to live without one!
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