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How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

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Lauren Fountain

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Weighted blankets are among the newest and most popular sleep products on the market. Their unique approach to providing warmth and comfort sets them apart from traditional blankets.

While some weighted blanket manufacturers claim health benefits, you should talk to your doctor before use if you have an underlying medical condition. That said, many individuals enjoy weighted blankets and feel that they enhance the sleep experience.

We’ll discuss how weighted blankets are made, how they’re intended to work, their potential benefits, and whether they’re safe for everyone.

What Is a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket is a blanket that contains glass beads, plastic pellets, ball bearings, or other materials that add to the blanket’s overall weight. The intent behind the extra pressure is to reduce anxiety and help stimulate sleep.

While weight options vary between models, most weighted blankets range from 15 to 25 pounds. In some cases, travel and child sizes of under 10 pounds are also available.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

By using heavy fill, weighted blankets gain extra heft that separates them from traditional options. As a direct result of the additional weight, most weighted blankets are naturally warmer and cozier. However, some cooling models are designed for breathability, making them appropriate for year-round use.

The theory behind the added weight is that it helps to reduce anxiety and encourage sleep by promoting melatonin (a sleep hormone). Some experts also claim that weighted blankets may stimulate other natural hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are directly related to happiness. The reduction of cortisol, a natural steroid linked to stress, is another purported effect of weighted blankets.

While many customers speak highly of their weighted blankets, it should be noted that their potential health benefits have yet to be scientifically confirmed.

Whether you’re looking for extra warmth or other possible benefits, a weighted blanket’s effectiveness relies heavily on the weight differential between it and the user. The general guideline is that a weighted blanket should be around 10% of the user’s weight. If a weighted blanket isn’t heavy enough, then it might feel insignificant to the sleeper. A blanket that’s too heavy may restrict movement and feel uncomfortable.

    What are the Benefits of Using a Weighted Blanket?

    By their very nature, most weighted blankets provide a greater degree of warmth and comfort than their more traditional counterparts. This extra pressure is also intended to promote both relaxation and happiness while reducing stress. However, some weighted blankets perform better than others.

    While extra warmth can be useful in cold climates, the snugness of a weighted blanket may be more notable. It’s through this added pressure that a weighted blanket may promote relaxation by essentially simulating a full-body hug.

    Manufacturers often make other claims regarding the health benefits of weighted blankets, specifically recommending them for those with autism, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. However, there is not yet sufficient research to support these claims. If you suffer from these conditions, you should talk with your doctor to discuss your treatment options and whether a weighted blanket might be appropriate for you.

    Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

    Weighted blankets are safe for most adults. However, those with underlying medical conditions, such as respiratory or circulatory issues, should consult with their doctor before use. The pressure of a weighted blanket might be problematic for those with asthma, low blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes, for example. Additionally, adults with claustrophobia may find weighted blankets too confining, and those with mobility issues may struggle to move under the added weight.

    While you should consult your child’s pediatrician, weighted blankets are generally considered safe for most children over the age of 3 who weigh at least 50 pounds. As with adults, experts suggest that a child’s weighted blanket should be about 10% of their body weight. Many manufacturers sell weighted blankets specifically designed for children or label a model as being safe for children. Regardless of the manufacturer’s claims, it’s still best to check with your family doctor about what’s appropriate for your child.

    Finally, a weighted blanket should never be so heavy that the sleeper cannot remove it themselves, since this presents significant safety issues.

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