If you spend any time on the internet, you may have heard about the recent weighted blanket craze. People are praising them for helping with insomnia, anxiety, autism, chronic pain, and a variety of other conditions. But what is a weighted blanket anyway?
Weighted blankets can be a great tool to help you rest easier every night, whether or not you have some sort of condition. And knowing the facts about them can help you decide whether you want to invest in one today. Read on to learn more about weighted blankets and discover the answers to some FAQs about them.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is more or less what it says on the tin — a blanket that’s got some extra heft to it. These blankets are usually filled with small pellets or beads that make it heavier. The beads are sewn into small pockets throughout the blanket to keep the weight evenly distributed so it doesn’t slide off you as soon as you lay down.
Weighted blankets have become popular in recent years as a way to manage everything from Restless Leg Syndrome to anxiety. And even if you don’t have a mental or physical condition, they can be very comforting to lie under.
How Do They Work?
A weighted blanket simulates something called deep touch pressure. This is the gentle, consistent pressure we feel when we get a hug or when someone holds us. Because these are social actions, our brains view deep touch pressure as a reward.
When we experience deep touch pressure, whether from a hug or a weighted blanket, our brains start to release serotonin and dopamine. Both of these hormones are associated with happiness, rewards, and relaxation.
What Are They Good For?
Weighted blankets can be effective for a variety of different problems and conditions. They can be helpful for relieving symptoms of anxiety, since the resulting increase in serotonin and dopamine helps to stop panic attacks in their tracks. They can also be good for people with autism and sensory processing disorders; the one steady, consistent weight of the blanket can override the other sources of sensory input coming in and make them easier to process.
People with insomnia may find a weighted blanket helpful, since serotonin and dopamine also help us to go to sleep. People who roll a lot in their sleep can use a weighted blanket to still their movements. And people who suffer from chronic pain may find that the deep touch pressure of a weighted blanket gives some of the same benefits as deep tissue massage.
How Heavy Should Yours Be?
When you start shopping for weighted blankets, you’ll quickly discover that they come in different weights. Picking the right weight is a bit of a Goldilocks situation. If it’s too light, you won’t get as many benefits, but if it’s too heavy, it may become uncomfortable to be under after a while.
The general rule of thumb is to look for a weighted blanket that’s about 10 percent of your body weight. This will provide the perfect combination of pressure without it turning into pain.
How Big Should It Be?
Most of the time, when we’re shopping for blankets, we look for one that will fit the size of our beds. But with a weighted blanket, that’s going to be far too large. The edges of the blanket draping over the sides of the bed will pull it towards the floor, increasing the pressure on you.
Instead, look for a weighted blanket that’s big enough to cover just your body. The goal here isn’t to decorate your bed; it’s to provide steady, even pressure to you. Make sure to keep the edges of the blanket on the bed, and if you’re sleeping with a partner, it’s a good idea for each of you to buy your own weighted blanket suited to your needs.
What Are They Made From?
If you have allergies or skin sensitivities, you may be wondering what a weighted blanket is made from. The covers come in a variety of materials, though they are generally soft to the touch. The most common materials for the outer covering are cotton, bamboo, and polyester.
The weights can be made of different materials, though they are usually hypoallergenic, too. Plastic pellets or glass beads are the most common filler for weighted blankets. There is usually an additional layer of fabric between the covering and the beads, but this is simply for reinforcement and won’t touch your skin.
How Do You Clean Them?
The question of how to wash a weighted blanket can be tricky. Most blankets are machine-washable, but it is very important to check that on the tag before you throw it in the washer. And because they’re so heavy, you may want to take some extra care in the wash.
It’s generally a good idea to take heavier blankets to a laundromat, where industrial-sized washers are better equipped to handle the weight. Wash weighted blankets in cold water on a gentle rinse cycle, and never use bleach or vinegar to clean them. Some blankets have an exterior cover that can be removed, so check if yours has that option before you wash it.
How Do You Use Them Safely?
It may seem strange, but there are some slight safety concerns with weighted blankets. Primarily, these concerns have to do with small children sleeping under the blankets. The weight may become too much for them and make it hard to breathe or move out from under the blanket.
Children under fifty pounds should never be placed under a weighted blanket. If you or your child has a medical condition of any sort, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you begin using a weighted blanket. And always follow the blanket weight guidelines so you don’t wind up under a blanket that’s too heavy for you.
Are They Hot?
One of the common comments that you might hear about weighted blankets is that they can be too hot. While weighted blankets may trap in more heat, this depends a lot on the specific blanket you choose. They come available in different warmth ratings depending on the outer material used.
If you like your room cold when you sleep or if you live further up north, a thicker blanket might be a great thing. But if you live in the South, you might want to look for a cooler, lighter blanket. But the idea that all weighted blankets are hot is nothing more than a myth.
When Should You Get a Weighted Blanket?
So when is it a good idea to get a weighted blanket? If you have any of the issues we’ve mentioned, getting a weighted blanket can be a great way to relieve some of your symptoms naturally. Always talk to your doctor first, but this could become an important part of your treatment regimen.
And, of course, you may just want to get a weighted blanket for your own comfort. They are very relaxing to lie under, and you may want that feeling of being held all night long. If so, you’re in good company; grab your weighted blanket and join the club.
What Should You Look For?
There are a few things to look for in addition to the weight when you’re shopping for your weighted blanket. First of all, make sure the materials are suitable for any allergies or sensitivities you have. And if you can find a blanket with a removable, washable cover, that’s a good idea.
You should also check on the quality of the materials the manufacturers use. Not all weighted blankets are made the same, and the cheaper ones may use weaker thread or materials that tear up within a few months. A good weighted blanket may cost you a little more money, but it’s worth the investment to get something you can use for years.
Get Your Own Weighted Blanket
The best answer to the question, “What is a weighted blanket?” is, “Comfort.” Lying under a weighted blanket feels like being held by a loved one, and it stimulates the same release of chemicals in the brain. Get your own weighted blanket and discover the comfort, joy, and rest they bring for yourself.
If you’d like to get a weighted blanket, check out the rest of our site at I’m Rested. We have the best weighted blankets and sleep aids on the market for a price you’ll love. Check out our guide on how to choose a weighted blanket and start resting easier today.