Weighted blankets are a fairly new trend on the market. Weighted blankets, not surprisingly, are blankets with extra weight added to them.
This is based on the science of deep pressure stimulation, which uses added weight to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. This causes calm feelings and a reduction of pain. Many argue that our system responds this way because the added weight and pressure mimics the sensation of a hug.
Studies suggest that weighted blankets may help with several conditions, including autism, anxiety, ADHD, and chronic pain. This has to do with the nature of these conditions. Since pain and anxiety are triggered by the sympathetic nervous system, weighted blankets can help to counter them.
Here’s how a weighted blanket is made:
There are multiple steps to the process of making a weighted blanket.
Among the first aspects of creating a weighted blanket is deciding on the amount of weight to use. Many argue that the ideal weighted blanket should be equal to about 10% of your body weight.
For instance, a fifty-pound child will need a five-pound blanket, and a person weighing 100 pounds will need a 10-pound blanket. If you don’t happen to fall exactly on a fifty-pound increment, round up. A person weighing 163 lbs may find a twenty-pound blanket more suitable than a fifteen-pound blanket.
If you’re not seeing any results with your current weighted blanket, you may also benefit from going up a size. Perhaps the added weight will help you.
2. Outer Covering
A weighted blanket comes with two sets of covers, an outer covering and an inner covering. The inner covering houses the weighted material, while the outer fabric serves as the soft material for the blanket.
The outer covering can be made from any number of materials. Anything you can make a traditional blanket out of can work for the outer covering.
To choose the best material for an outer covering, it’s best to think about who the blanket is for and where they live. Somebody living in the American Southwest is not going to benefit much from a thick blanket that doesn’t breathe. Meanwhile, somebody in the Midwest or Canada might love it.
The kind of person the blanket is for is another important factor, especially when it comes to weighted blankets. Many children with autism, for instance, have sensory issues, so certain materials may cause them immense discomfort.
People may have allergies or sensitive skin, so you’ll need to find something that doesn’t aggravate those conditions.
Some of the most common materials used in making a weighted blanket include cotton, bamboo, and polyester. Polyester is the most affordable and longest-lasting, but it doesn’t breathe well and can get very hot at night.
Bamboo is far more sustainable, partly because it grows at an incredible rate. It’s also the most breathable material of the three, so you’ll stay cooler at night. However, it’s also the weakest material on the list and the most expensive.
Cotton is a sort of happy medium. It’s slightly pricey, but not too expensive. It can keep you cool at night, but can also take a decent amount of wear. It’s not the most eco-friendly option, but it’s not completely artificial, either.
3. Inner Covering
If you’ve been looking at weighted blankets, you may have noticed a grid-like sewing pattern. It may remind you of a quilt, the way the entire blanket looks like a set of squares sewn together.
This has to do with the inner covering. There’s more to weighted blankets than dumping in plastic pellets or glass beads and sewing it shut with a sewing machine. The weight must be distributed evenly or the blanket doesn’t work.
To achieve this, most weighted blankets are made up of square ‘pockets’ where bits of weighted material are kept. Hence the quilt-like design.
An added layer of fabric keeps the weighted material from leaking out. This can be an issue with older or lower-quality blankets.
The inner and outer layers should be about the same size.
4. Weighted Material
At some point you’ll need to decide what type of material you want to use for the weight. The most common options for professional blankets are glass beads or plastic pellets, but several different materials will work.
Some insist on using sand, which can be a great choice. It’s easy to find and very affordable. You can even get it for free if you have a sandbox or live near a beach. However, sand is also smaller than most fabrics and materials, so leaking may be more common.
You could use pebbles or other small rocks. These are also easy to get and affordable. Plus they’re large enough that you won’t have any trouble keeping them in their pouches. You’ll need to use small rocks, though, because larger ones can be uncomfortable and throw off the weight balance.
Even when going with glass or stones, there are multiple options in terms of type. There’s regular glass, quartz glass, etc. If you want to do something specific or unique, do some research and see what you can find.
You can also use a combination of materials if you like. This may be a bit more difficult, but there’s no reason it can’t work. The important thing about a weighted blanket is that the weight is evenly distributed.
You will need to measure out a certain amount of weight to put into each square. How much weight you use per square depends on how heavy you want the blanket to be.
The best way to do this is to divide the weight of the blanket by the number of squares. For instance, a fifteen-pound blanket with fifty squares will need one-third pound weight per square. With sixteen ounces in a pound, that works out to 5.3 ounces per square.
5. Sewing Together
The last step is to sew up the layers of the weighted blanket. Afterward, the blanket should look like a blanket but feel much heavier.
You may feel some relief just by carrying it in your arms. It could also just be heavy. Both are possible. Either way, you now have a weighted blanket, and you should be proud of yourself.
Importance of Washing
Washing is an issue many people struggle with when making or buying a weighted blanket. The good news is that a lot of companies are aware of this problem and make their blankets machine-washable. Heavier blankets may need to be taken to a laundromat.
When machine washing a weighted blanket, it’s usually best to use cold water, a gentle rinse cycle, and avoid the use of bleach or vinegar. This should make your blanket clean without damaging it.
If the blanket contains foam beads, it cannot be machine-washed, so it’s best to avoid these when making your own weighted blanket.
In some cases, the inner layer may be removable, so removing the inner layer and cleaning the outer layer is the best method.
Weighted Blankets and Mental Health
It’s important to note that while weighted blankets can be a great tool for certain mental health conditions, it’s not a treatment or a cure. If you or someone you know has a mental health condition, it’s best to seek therapy and take medicine if it’s recommended.
You also don’t have to have a mental health condition to benefit from a weighted blanket. If you or someone you know uses a weighted blanket, that doesn’t mean they’re mentally ill.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Weighted Blanket
While many people with various conditions may benefit from weighted blankets, certain individuals definitely won’t. Do not use weighted blankets on infants; a weighted blanket could potentially smother a baby.
Using weighted blankets on children under fifty pounds may also not be a good idea, as there are few blankets designed for people under fifty pounds.
Those with sleep apnea should also not use weighted blankets. It may make their breathing issues at night even worse.
Those with claustrophobia may experience fear from the weight and pressure of the blanket.
How are Weighted Blankets Made?
How are weighted blankets made? It takes quite a bit of work.
We’ve given a brief overview of this process in the paragraphs above, but there is a bit more to it. We encourage you to do more research on your own if you’re interested.
If you want to know more about weighted blankets or want to buy one, please visit our site.