What is a Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets. You may have noticed this term in your social media newsfeed or read an article about it somewhere while you were surfing the internet.

You ask yourself, what’s the buzz all about or why is it suddenly all over the news?

It's a trending topic on your social media newsfeed.

There’s also a time that you heard a friend excitedly telling you about their plan of buying one for themselves or their loved ones. The more you hear people talking about it only piques your curiosity further as the days go by.

To understand why there’s a massive clamor for weighted blankets these days, you first need to know what a weighted blanket is, the benefits they provide, and the reason for their rising mainstream popularity.

What is a weighted blanket?

Weighted blankets are just the same as your ordinary blankets except they are heavier in weight. Hence the name, weighted blanket.

Used by doctors and therapists in the mental health community for a long time because it helps their patients calm down. The blanket’s added weight is very useful in helping children with special needs like Autism, ADHD, or other sensory processing disorders feel better.

It's a dream come true for parents or caretakers of children with special needs to see their loved one’s conditions improve.

Individuals suffering from anxiety or sleep disorders can also attest to its efficacy. The use of weighted blankets helps them relax and get the kind of sleep they need.  

It's been proven that getting a good night’s sleep helps you feel refreshed, sharp, and jovial the following day. You become more productive at work and have more energy to do the things that you love.

In April of 2017, New York entrepreneur John Florentino started a Kickstarter campaign with a modest goal of raising $21,500 for his weighted blanket project called Gravity. A few weeks after the launch, his campaign became a viral hit among netizens from all over the world.

It raised more than four million dollars in a short span of time and caused major news outlets to run stories about weighted blankets and its benefits. Soon after that, positive testimonials coming from first-time users who bought the blankets cemented its status and legitimacy.    

The overwhelming response it got catapulted the use of weighted blankets into mainstream consciousness. It goes to show you how many people are suffering from stress, anxiety, or sleep deprivation. They’re getting desperate and are willing to spend money for a weighted blanket that helps them say goodbye to problems caused by stress and sleepless nights.

How heavy are the weighted blankets?

Most of the weighted blankets sold online or the traditional way range from 3 lbs. up to 25 pounds. Medical experts recommend choosing a weighted blanket that’s around 10% of the user’s body weight.

Here’s a chart that shows the appropriate blanket weight concerning the user’s body weight.

User’s body weight (pounds)

Estimated age (years)

Blanket’s weight (pounds)

30 to 40

2 to 6

3 to 5

40 to 70

7 to 10

7

70 to 90

11 to 13

10

90 to 150

14 to 16

15

150 to 200

17 to 20

20

200 and up

21 and up

25

 

What makes the blanket heavy are the filling materials stuffed inside pockets in between the sheets. They are evenly distributed to provide a consistent experience.

The most popular filling materials of commercial weighted blankets are poly pellets and glass beads. These are synthetic materials that won’t degrade over time, are BPA free, and hypoallergenic.

If you want to buy one for your little kiddo, it should be 10% of their body weight plus minus a pound or two. The allowance of a pound or two takes into consideration that your child is still growing. Take note that they should be able to lift the blanket’s weight without any problems on their own. Buying a blanket that’s too heavy for your child is dangerous. They can die from suffocation or become traumatized for being unable to move when using it. 

If you're planning to buy one for yourself and weigh close to 180 pounds, the right weighted blanket for you is around 15 to 20 pounds. The same rule applies if you’re buying it for someone else. Having a clear idea of their current weight allows you to buy the perfect gift.

For adult users, the chart only serves as a guide for those who have no inkling about the right weighted blanket to buy. It depends on the adult user’s preference and comfort level. There are some who prefer using a weighted blanket beyond their recommended weight while some would want a lightweight blanket.

If you tend to go for the extreme, better order a customized blanket if the weighted blanket you want is not available. Some manufacturers offer to make personalized blankets.

You can specify how dense you want your blanket to be, the kind of fabric for the outer sheets, the dimensions, and the type of filling materials to use.

Benefits of using a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets offer a calming and relaxing effect

Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) is the science behind the benefits of weighted blankets. Gentle pressure, when applied evenly throughout your body, helps release serotonin that gives off the feeling of relaxation.

The applied pressure reduces your nervous system’s activity that helps you relax and calm down. Children with special needs feel better in a relaxed state as they feel more protected.

Stress Reducer

Using a weighted blanket provides the same positive feeling of someone hugging you tightly. They also help soothe aching joints as the applied pressure due to the weight feels like getting a body massage.

Being able to relax helps you forget about your problems momentarily. Feeling refreshed for the next day motivates you to solve the issues bugging you one at a time.

Keeps you warm at night especially during the colder months and the winter season.

Thicker and heavier blankets keep you warmer than thinner and lighter sheets. You can save on heating costs as your heater doesn’t need to work as hard.

The added benefit of lowering your energy bills allows you to save more money or use the savings to experience something you’ve always longed for like a weekend getaway.

Gives you the good night’s sleep you always crave for

Helps you sleep faster than using regular blankets. The soothing effect of the heavier than usual blanket weight is helpful for those who have a hard time falling and staying asleep.

Who should use a weighted blanket? 

Weighted blankets, despite its numerous benefits, are not for everyone.

Not suitable for babies below two years old and people suffering from heart or respiratory problems

It’s dangerous for infants and babies under two years of age. They’re still not strong enough to carry the weight and putting it around them only restricts their movement. They should always be comfortable, free to move, and closely supervised when sleeping.

Children, teenagers, adults, and seniors with heart or respiratory ailments are better off using regular blankets for the extra weight and thickness might only worsen their present conditions. They should always consult their doctors first and get medical clearance before buying one.

Ideal for healthy children with special needs and adults suffering from stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders



Children with special needs like Autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), and those suffering from sensory processing disorders should be using one.

The same thing for people suffering from insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What should I consider when buying a weighted blanket?

Dimensions

The blanket should fit the user perfectly and not the bed they’re sleeping in. The size should be enough to cover the user from chest to foot. An oversized blanket may fall off or restrain their movement while lying on the bed.

Filling materials used

Manufacturers either fill the blankets they produce with poly pellets, glass beads, weighted discs, rice, or barley to achieve the desired weight. The most popular are poly pellets and glass beads for they are synthetic materials that won’t degrade over time.

Those stuffed with glass beads are thinner because they are denser than poly pellets. It is up to you if you want a bulky or a thinner blanket.

Type of fabric used for the outer sheets

The kind of cloth for the outer sheets significantly influences the blanket’s feel and comfort level. Some of the favorite materials used are cotton, mink, flannel, linen, acrylic, polyester or fleece. There are different designs and color schemes that make the blanket more pleasing to the eye.

Even distribution of the blanket’s weight

The blanket’s weight should be evenly distributed all throughout for the user to achieve deep pressure touch stimulation. Observe carefully how the pockets are lined up and try shaking the blanket to see if there’s an apparent shift in weight.

Manufacturer’s label

Check the label to see for yourself if the blanket is washing machine-safe or not. The detailed instructions will tell you how to care for the blanket. Those that require dry cleaning are more expensive to maintain than those you can throw in your washing machine at home for regular cleaning.

Price

Weighted blankets are more expensive than ordinary ones because they are more complicated to produce. Consider your budget when you’re planning to buy one as the price goes up as the weight increases. It also rings true for the build quality and craftsmanship.

Give yourself the time you need to make up your mind about buying the right kind of weighted blanket. Because of its popularity, you have a lot of options to choose from which only makes it harder to decide.

Always keep in mind that weighted blankets should only serve as a complementary tool. It should not serve as a direct replacement for medication or seeking professional intervention for treating severe medical or psychiatric conditions.