Weighted blankets have gained immense popularity in the past few years because of the fantastic benefits they are offering. But it is wrong to think that these blankets have just come in the picture recently. Actually, they have been around for quite many years, and it is only now that their benefits have started commercialized and they are enjoying the mainstream attention. But, how many of us know about weighted blankets and what is the hype around it?
Weighted blankets are heavy blankets that weigh from anything between 10 to 25 pounds. Different materials are using inside these blankets to get the desired weight. Glass beads, plastic pellets or steel bearings are generally using as these materials to add up the weight. Many scientific studies have proved the benefits of using these blankets in cases like anxiety, cerebral palsy, insomnia, Parkinson’s disease, sensory processing disorder and much more.
How does a weighted blanket work on Sensory Processing Disorder?
Weighted blankets work by applying deep pressure to your body without getting too uncomfortable or overbearing. This pressure causes your body to produce two chemicals-endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals are primarily responsible for keeping your body in a calm and relaxed state. Also at night, darkness leads to conversion of serotonin to melatonin by our pineal gland which is a sleep-inducing chemical and helps us in literally sleeping like a baby.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) happens because of an overstimulated nervous system which in turn affects your emotions. SPD affects around 5 to 16% school going children, but in a few cases, it carries forward into adults as well. SPD can lead to emotional outbursts, and even simple things can trigger your children such as a certain touch or itchy fabric.
Clumsiness, struggling in school, anxiety, and depression are some other visible signs of SPD. Studies have shown that weighted blankets are extremely useful in the production of serotonin and thus an excellent regulator of your child’s mood, making the child feel relaxed and less anxious. The pressure applied by these blankets have a soothing effect on children’s mind, and they can sleep better without any distractions.
What are the medical benefits?
Some of the benefits of using weighted blankets are as follows:
Manage the symptoms of:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sensory processing disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Restless leg syndrome
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Seizure disorder and much more.
- These blankets calm down your nervous system and improve its functioning.
- By calming your mind, it also soothes your OCD symptoms and makes you less aggressive, generally.
- Using these blankets releases feel-good hormones, dopamine, and serotonin which makes you feel less stressed out and anxious.
Are these blankets customizable?
Yes, weighted sensory blankets are customizable according to one’s need and preferences. The blanket needs to be 10% of the weight of your kid plus an extra pound or two. These blankets are available in different weights and sizes, and hence you can choose one which suits your child’s needs. You can actually add or remove the weight as per your kid’s comfort and how much pressure is best fit for your child. Children suffering from SPD shall have particular preferences, or they find some fabric unacceptable. Weighted blankets generally come with 100% cotton, but you can also choose the super soft Minky fabric available in the market these days.
How to clean the weighted blankets?
It is very easy to clean the weighted blankets, but the method of cleaning usually depends upon the constitution of the blanket and its fabric. The ways of cleaning the blanket are simple and easy to follow.
To clean the outer cover, just unzip it, and do a machine wash. Make sure to use a mild detergent and do not use any whitening agent or bleach. Dry it in the dryer, or you can air dry it as well. For cleaning the inner blanket, you need to put it in your bathtub or a big plastic tub. After washing the blanket with a mild detergent, rinse it repeatedly. Make sure that there is no residue of detergent left on the blanket. Squeeze out the excess water and then air dry it.
What composes the weight inside the blanket?
Different manufacturers use different materials as a filler inside the weighted blankets. The outer fabric is usually 100% cotton, Minky dotted or polyester. Some of the materials commonly using inside these blankets are as follows:
- Glass beads: Earlier, glass beads were the most popular filling material used, and many people discarded it due to several drawbacks. Glass beads can break and develop sharp edges which can tear through the fabric and hurt your children. Also, people have a significant concern that these beads contain toxic materials such as arsenic or lead which can cause more damage than benefit.
- Plastic pellets: These are the most common filling have been using in weighted blankets. They have various benefits such as they are hypoallergenic and non-toxic. However, they are not much dense and may not be as heavy as other materials which are in use. But still, they are the safest option available currently.
- Sand: It is a natural filler using in weight blanket, but sand is not a suitable filling material as it is very porous and hence can take ages to dry once you clean those blankets.
- Rice and other similar grains: Using rice and other types of grains is a cheap option but not a preferable one. These materials being organic attract various insects, and there is a considerable chance of mold growing on it. It can cause a severe allergic reaction in many people, and hence you should avoid it.
- Steel ball bearings: These are having dense properties and can provide a lot of weight, but comes under our excluded list. These ball bearings are very heavy and can hurt people, especially children if they start playing with it.
It would be better to ask your retailer for the type of materials used as filler in the weighted blanket before you make the final purchase.
What are the sizes available?
While purchasing your weighted blanket, the size and weight is the primary concern. As already mentioned above, the weight of the blanket should be 10% of the body weight of the person plus a couple of extra pounds. You want a blanket that is large enough to fit your child but not so much large that its weight becomes hazardous for your kid. For adults, it is merely a matter of preference. As long as you are comfortable in the blanket and do not feel suffocated, you are good to go. If you compare the weighted blankets with ordinary blankets, you will find the former to be lighter and wider for your ease.
The size of the blanket differs according to the weight. These blankets usually come in 4 basic sizes – small, medium, large and queen blankets. A small blanket measures 34 inches by 50 inches and is for kids between 1 to 6 years old. The medium blanket measures 38 inches by 62 inches and is for children between 6 to 12 years old. The large blanket measures 38 inches by 72 inches and is mostly for teens and average adults. The queen blankets are usually customized, and you need to call the retailers with your needs for the right measurements.
However, if you are still confused, we have a chart that can help you with the blanket selection.
What makes these blankets warmer?
The weighted blankets are warmer when compared to ordinary blankets as wool is using and blended with the fabric of the blanket. But what about summer? Will these blankets get too warm or suffocating for your kid? For summer you can buy a 100% cotton fabric blanket or super soft Minky fabric blanket which is cool and quite breathable.
Points to consider before purchasing the weighted sensory blanket
Sensory Processing Disorder can affect the kids as well as the adults, and it creates problems for the individuals in comprehending the information provided by our senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound). It can lead to academic, social and behavioral challenges in kids. If you are or your kid is suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder, purchasing a weighted blanket can help a lot in easing out the symptoms. The results were very much promising, and satisfied customers have been going gaga over the same.
If you have never purchased a weighted blanket before, the number of choices available in the market indeed overwhelm you. But if you are planning to buy a weighted blanket, what should you keep in mind? You may face many confusing questions and to alleviate your concerns, the following information will help you to clear your doubts.
- Size and weight of the blanket-: We cannot emphasize much on this matter. As already mentioned above, a weighted blanket should be your kid’s weight plus two extra pounds. We need to ease the symptoms, not alleviate it. Buying a wrong weighted blanket will have its own repercussions. It can be too heavy for your kid or not heavy at all. Your kid might feel uneasy using it. You can find many stores offering customized blankets, so always go for those blankets, in case you feel doubtful.
- The type of fabric used: The type of fabric used in the weighted blanket also plays an important role. If your kid has SPD, you know how certain unsuspecting things can trigger the emotional outburst. If the fabric of the blanket is uncomfortable to your kid, he/she is never going to use it.
If you still not sure which fabric to choose, go for cotton. Cotton is the safest bet here. It is lightweight, breathable and very reliable. Never settle with synthetic materials, as it can cause overheating instead of comfort. If your kid loves soft fabrics, you can also choose the Minky dotted fabrics. You can put a little thought into the design of the blanket. Buy something that appeals to your kid but makes sure it is not very distracting.
- The filling material: Not only the outer fabric of the weighted blanket but the inner material is also of great importance. The plastic pellets are the safe bet here. Most of the companies these days are going for it. However, you can choose the glass beads if you want your blanket to be a little heavier but we’d advise you to be aware of their drawbacks as well.
Be careful to not just randomly buy your weighted blanket because it looks cute or feels heavy enough. Do your proper research. Ask the retailer what the filling inside is, whether it is nontoxic, or FDA approved, or if it can cause an allergic reaction to the person who will be using it eventually. A little research on your part will go a long way.
The material filled inside actually affects the shape of the blanket. The weight needs to distribute evenly, and the blanket should not get lopsided and awkward with frequent use. It should provide a deep pressure but not feel too claustrophobic. Also, the blanket shouldn’t fit like a comforter. It should not be too large. The blanket should fit on your body snugly and not give too much extra space.
- The return policy of the company: Once you buy the weighted blanket, there is no 100% certainty that you will like it after using it. If you aren’t satisfied, you might want to return the blanket after using it once. Therefore, we would advise you to have some understanding about the return policies of the company. Is the return policy of the company acceptable to you? Does it have a return policy at all? Make sure to go through your checklist before finalizing the purchase.
- Washability of the blanket: Another critical point to consider is how easy it is to wash the weighted blanket. Is the outer cover removable or you need to wash the entire blanket together? If the blanket does not come with a removable cover, you need to take the help of a professional and send the same for dry cleaning which is going to increase your expenses. If your child still wets his bed, it is vital that you buy a blanket which is easy to wash. There are few companies whose blankets come in waterproof fabric. It will be the right choice for you if bed wetting is a problem for your kid.
- Cost of the blanket: The cost factor is always an important thing, whenever the plan for a purchase. A weighted blanket is like an investment; you need to buy a good one that suits your or your kid’s need perfectly. The weighted blanket comes in a different range of prices, and although there is no fixed budget limit on how much you should spend for the weighted blanket, you must make sure that the blanket that you are buying is going to be beneficial for you or your kid.
- Company’s review: Always go on the internet and read the product’s or the company’s reviews by other customers before making the final purchase. When you are buying these unique items, you need to make sure that they will work for you and you get your money’s worth. Some companies offer their customers with a lifetime guarantee or an easy return policy. It would be better to identify the blankets that can address our concerns.
- The type of product company offers: You need to see that whether the company provides these blankets in different weights, sizes or styles or does it have a one-size-fits-all policy with a limited collection of weights. When you are buying a blanket for the kid, the design of the blanket also plays an important role. You have to buy a blanket that is attractive but not too appealing as it might not help your kids to relax. The blanket is going to play an essential part in your kid’s life; it should not be too mundane or look like a tool for therapy.
Where can you buy the weighted blankets?
Various retailers offer customers weighted blankets at reasonable prices and substantial discounts. You can buy these blankets online, and they will be home delivered to you in no time. The online purchase options, give you enough scope to check the extensive collection of blankets easily without any extra efforts. If you buy a customized weighted blanket, it will take around 3 to 5 days to manufacture the same. Alternatively, you can also purchase these blankets from brick and mortar stress.
Sensory processing disorder or SPD has no cure. But there are ways you can ease the symptoms. Weighted sensory blankets are one of the most effective ways to do the same. For people suffering from SPD, their brain doesn’t process information always in a systematic way. It gets too confusing and uncomfortable for them. The deep pressure healing offered by these blankets will make your kid feel more relaxed and less anxious. It is not at all overbearing and feels like giving a warm, happy hug.