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Everything You Need to Know About Weighted Blankets, The Science, The Benefits

Chances are you may have come across an article, a friend or family member, trumpeting the benefits of weighted blankets and how they have enjoyed much better sleep quality ever since using one.

While weighted blankets have experienced an explosion in recent popularity - it has long been used as a niche medical device for the special needs community, helping individuals with autism or sensory disorder find relief. A weighted blanket is meant to simulate a calming hug & embrace to help you relax mentally & physically, and it turns out everyone loves hugs and the much better sleep they bring.

And who doesn't love to sleep? It is the most fundamental part of an effective self-care routine, and a weighted blanket might be the missing piece to enjoying consistently great sleep every night.

Here is everything you need to know about weighted blankets from their benefits to how to find the right one for you. (There is also a quick conclusion on the bottom if you want the short version)

calm embrace weighted blanket

What exactly is a weighted blanket & how does it work?

Weighted blankets are essentially heavy blankets (typically 10lbs or more) filled with materials such as pellets (Ours use 100% medical grade glass microbeads) that are designed to provide an even weighted coverage to perform deep touch pressure to your body, also known as Deep Pressure Therapy(DPT).
The Deep touch pressure provided by a weighted blanket is a consistent but gentle pressure, resembling the feeling of a hug or a calming embrace. When it is applied evenly to your body, it helps to release both oxytocins, a happiness chemical, and serotonin, a feel-good chemical, into the body. This creates a chain reaction that aids the production of melatonin, the chemical that helps the body sleep, and soothes and relaxes you both physically & mentally while lulling you to deep sleep.

Benefits for People Experiencing Anxiety:

The sensation of even enveloping weight of DPT has been shown to calm your nervous system, making it much easier for people with anxiety to unwind. According to one study, weighted blanket "gives subjects the feelings of safety, relaxation, and comfort." Our own in-house conducted test(detailed below) also concurred with this finding

Benefits for People Experiencing Insomnia & Sleep Disorders:

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, over 48% of the American population suffers from poor or insufficient sleep. In fact, 2 out of 5 adults suffer from insomnia.

Researches have shown that DTP can stimulate the brain to produce & release Oxytocins, Serotonin & Melatonin to create a soothing and peaceful feeling that reduces insomnia as well as increase deeper REM sleep cycle. If you are constantly laying in bed, wide awake with a racing mind, chances are, a weighted blanket might be able to provide you much-needed relief.

The weighted blanket is also great for those that suffer from sleep disorders such as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). People that suffer from this sleep disorder regularly experience uncomfortable sensations in their legs, sometimes arms or other parts of the body as well. Many victims of RLS describe that the only ways to find relief are through an irresistible urge to move their legs to relieve the sensation. RLS can lead to hours of tossing and turning and can significantly degrade the quality of your sleep.

In addition, RLS is a physical condition that can be amplified by mental frustration. Weighted blankets can ease the situation by keeping your legs stabilized and still through even and steady pressure. Through the release of oxytocin, you will feel calmer & less anxious, preventing you from establishing a mental focus on the symptoms, leading to faster and deeper sleep.

>>You might like: 7 Reasons Why You Wake Up In The Middle Of Night And What To Do About It

Benefit on Sensory Processing Disorder(SPD)

For children suffering from SPD, even the slightest task can trigger a sensory overload; little things like the sound of his or her surrounding, bright lights, or even the texture of the cloth can create a sensory meltdown.

The root of the problem for SPD has always been a malfunction in one of the child's senses that causes the nervous system to send an abnormal flurry of neural signals to the brain that overloads it in activities, leaving the brain overwhelmed.

The solution is to work towards sensory integration through a "sensory diet," meaning a personalized list of sensory inputs that allow the brain to slowly digest and accustom to each sensory information over time. To accomplish this, the child needs to be equipped with a go-to self-soothe tool to help calm the brain before or during a meltdown. This is where the weighted blanket comes in.

Weighted blankets have been the go-to organic therapeutic solution for occupational therapists for years. Its ability to calm the senses and relax the brain through deep pressure therapy allows children with SPD to experience a mood booster through the release of "happy" serotonin and decrease of cortisol, stress hormone. The even pressure of weighted blanket also helps feed their sensory receptors with an appropriate amount of input to help them experience better spatial awareness.

Lastly, weighted blankets help children with SPD to better filter and organize sensory input in a relaxed state. It provides a sense of safety to calms their overly stimulated senses combined with increased production of melatonin, sleep agent, helps children with SPD fall asleep faster and easier.
 
 
How do you choose weighted blankets?

Weighted blankets come in many different configurations - Differences in weight, design, & construction. Here is what to look for when you are choosing your new weighted blanket.

What is the correct weight for me?

When it comes to choosing the correct weight of your weighted blanket, the rule of thumb is that it should be around 8~12% of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, you should look for a weighted blanket between 12 to 18 lbs.
  weighted blanket recommend pounds
 
The reason for the range in percentage is down to personal preference; Some prefer a heavier & snugglier blanket and others prefer a lighter weight that's just enough for them to feel the effect. From our experience, we believe 15lbs is the sweet spot for most people, especially for anyone who is incorporating a weighted blanket into their sleeping for the first time.

Our in-house test

We conducted a test with our staff who volunteered to try weighted blankets of various size and weight configurations for four weeks, spending at least a week with each weight configuration. Our team consists of an equal amount of male & female with weight ranging from 112lbs to 225lbs.

At the end of the test, we were surprised to find that our staff's overwhelmingly favorite weighted blanket configuration is that of 60x80" Queen sized, 15lbs.
Their feedbacks were that the queen size blanket provided ample room for one sleeper; it's large enough to provide a cocoon coverage to maximize the overall effect. Most felt that the 48x72" full size is a bit too small for a truly enveloping effect. They also reported that when two sleeper share one weighted blanket that the effect wasn't as noticeable due to the vacuum space between the sleepers minimizing the enveloping effect.

The lighter team members liked the 15lbs weight because it felt like a warm embrace while the heavier member liked it as well because it wasn't so heavy that they would feel trapped and overwhelmed.

Lastly, since they started using weighted blankets, 79% of the participants reported lower anxiety, 71% reported experiencing positive calming effect, and 81% reported having positive impacts on their sleep. One participant who has suffered from insomnia for months even complained that she missed her alarm clock because she had slept so deep.

So how do I pick a weighted blanket that will last?

The single most important thing when it comes to weighted blanket design & construction is its ability to provide even weight distribution.

The key is how the weight is being applied?

Most generic weighted blankets only focus on the overall weight of the blanket when they should focus on how that weight is being applied to you. Generic blanket constructions consist of big weight pockets with minimal lining, leaving the beads to roll freely inside the pocket. Not only do you hear them, you feel them. The beads will inevitably gather at a corner of the pocket and provide various concentrated pressure on your body. The overall DTP effect will be discounted significantly, and the overall user experience might be more detrimental than beneficial to your sleep.

Look for weighted blankets with pockets that are less than 5 inches in dimension. The blanket should also be lined richly with cotton layers that trap and secure the beads. This will allow for an even & full-bodied weight coverage that maximizes the DTP effect, to instantly calm you into a relaxed state.

Additionally, look for weighted blankets constructed with robust stitching, preferably one featuring double stitching to keep the beads securely locked into each pocket to prevent leakage and to ensure consistent weight distribution.

Our blanket features 4" weighted pocket lined with two layers of thick bead locking cotton quilting sealed in anti-leak double stitching finish.
 
small pocket even weight distribution heavy blanket
 
Lastly, due to the weight of the blanket, weighted blanket typically features 6~8 loops to strap to duvet covers, ours feature 12 loops. This is help lock down the blanket to stay and flat and secure without bunching. Regular comforter duvet covers might fit the size but aren't designed to handle the weight, and will be unable to keep the blanket flat when in use.

How do you clean & care a weighted blanket?

Can you imagine throwing a 15lbs blanket into your washing machine? I can't even imagine the noise that it will make trying to crank the blanket into a washing cycle!

Therefore, we always suggest buying a weighted blanket that comes with a specially designed duvet cover. Clean and care are as simple as removing the duvet cover and throw it into the washer & dryer. If the inner weighted blanket does get dirty, please note to use spot cleaning only for care.

You can, of course, buy a weighted blanket without the bundled duvet cover; however, we believe that the extra cost for the duvet cover sets is well worth the price.

To improve your all-season usage experience, we went a step further when we designed our duvet. Our duvet cover features two sides, each made with different materials; breathable cotton that's perfect for Spring and Summer and ultra soft triple-layered quilted minky fabric that's perfect for Fall & Winter. It also features 12 loop/strap to keep your blanket flat and secure without bunching.
  
weighted blanket with washable 100% cotton duvet cover

In Conclusion

A weighted blanket is a definitely worthwhile investment for your self-care. It works through deep pressure therapy that helps your brain release happy, serotonin & sleep agent, melatonin. It enables you to calm the nerves, relax, and fall asleep faster and deeper.

A quick recap on picking the ideal weighted blanket:


1. Choose a weighted blanket that is 8~12% of your body weight and is large enough to provide full body coverage; from our experience, 60"x80", 15lbs is a great fit for mostly everyone.

2. Select one that is specially designed for even weight distribution as it is the key to the effectiveness of the blanket. Look for one with smaller pockets (4"), lead-free glass microbeads & double stitching construction.

3. Select one that comes with a specially designed duvet cover for easy clean and care, and be mindful that the duvet cover should feature multiple strap & lockdown loops (12) to prevent bunching. Ideally, the duvet cover should feature breathable material like cotton. If it has two sides with different materials for all season usage, then that would be the best choice.

I hope this article helps you understand the science behind the weighted blanket, what it can do for you, and how to choose the best one for you. It's time to make better sleep part of your self-care routine with a weighted blanket!
weighted blanket 15lbs for adults with cotton and duvet cover
 
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