What Is A Weighted Blanket And How To Pick One?

Weighted Blankets are, in simplest terms, blankets filled with weight. They provide sensory feedback to the user. The weight is usually in the form of plastic beads, but can also be sand, steel shot or even corn seed. Weighted Blankets are typically used to reduce the symptoms of conditions such as Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD). They are now widely used for other reasons such as reducing stress and anxiety, PTSD and even panic attacks.

How do Weighted Blankets Work?

Weighted Blankets apply weight across the body - known as Weighted Therapy. This weight stimulates the Proprioceptive System, the awareness of our body's position and movement, through deep touch pressure. Stimulating this system helps the body feel more grounded, calm and relaxed. This is very important for children and adults with Autism or SPD, as they often seek out deep pressure sensations to help them feel more secure and relaxed. 

Who may benefit from a Weighted Blanket?

The benefits gained from the use of a Weighted Blanket have the potential to help anyone. Typically, Weighted Blankets are used to help calm and relax the body, during the day or night.  They can be used to aid sleep, provide security and comfort or to help de-stress.  Once the body is in a more relaxed state, restlessness and agitation is reduced. This sensation brings comfort, relief and calmness to many people, with or without a medical condition.

Children and Adults with Autism or SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) benefit from the ‘deep touch pressure’ provided by a Weighted Blanket, as it helps them feel more secure and relaxed. People living with insomnia, fatigue, depression and anxiety have also reported significant improvements to their conditions following the prolonged use of a Weighted Blanket. Similarly the feeling of security and comfort can be of great benefit to those living with PTSD, stress and even panic attacks. Reducing feelings of restlessness and agitation has also been found to assist those with restless leg syndrome. 

But, it’s not just those with medical conditions who can benefit from a Weighted Blanket. Some people like to use them to help relax after a stressful day at work, or to provide a reassuring hug on a cold winter's day. With so much choice in the style and texture of a Weighted Blanket, and the wide spectrum of benefits it’s easy to see why they have increased in popularity. 

How to choose a Weighted Blanket 

 Choosing the right Weighted Blanket can seem a daunting task. With so many options available it can seem like a minefield. We've put together our top tips to help you choose the right one.

  1. Think about where you will use the Weighted Blanket; is it for night-time only or daytime as well? Would you prefer it to be a small and portable weighted blanket?
  2. Choose a blanket that is the correct weight for your child. For help with this please read our Weighted Blankets size guide
  3. Consider the blankets texture as this can have an effect on the overall success of the Weighted Blanket. “We’ve developed a range of tactile weighted blankets at Sensory Direct to suit a variety of needs”
  4. Familiarity; Weighted Blankets that can be used on top of a duvet keep change to a minimum as you can use existing bedding.
  5. Think about the time of year; poly-cotton blankets for example don't have too much insulation, making them a better choice for the summer.
  6. Pick a blanket that can be easily washed; some blankets are not easy to wash and clean, making it hard to maintain hygiene. Weighted Blankets with plastic beads can usually* be machine washed at temperatures up to 60°C. “We’ve created our handmade weighted blankets at Sensory Direct in a way that ensures they can all be washed at 60°C without altering their effectiveness.“
  7. Think about longevity; some blankets allow you to add weight as your child grows, reducing the overall cost. Look for adjustable weighted blankets that allow you to reduce or increase the weight.
  8. Buy from a reputable supplier; there are lots of cheap alternatives about, be mindful of the quality and read the reviews 
  9. Check for product guarantees; “at Sensory Direct all of our handmade weighted blankets come with a lifetime guarantee, offering you peace of mind”
  10. Speak to your Occupational Therapist  for support and advice on which Weighted Blanket to buy. “We are not medical professionals at Sensory Direct, but we do have lots of personal experience in the use of Weighted Blankets. We are more than happy to answer any of your questions and guide you through your selection. Please call our friendly Customer Services Team on 01905 670 500.”

Key points to remember

  • Weighted Blankets can be very dangerous for young children. The user should always be able to self-remove the blanket.
  • It's important to choose the correct weight for your child; this should not exceed 10% of the user's bodyweight.
  • Textures and fabrics are an important choice; they can make a real difference to the overall success of the Weighted Blanket.
  • Speak to your Occupational Therapist for more support and advice.

Sensory Direct offers a range of Weighted Blankets suitable for children, teens and adults, all with a hassle-free lifetime guarantee! For help with individual products why not give our friendly customer services team a call on 01905 670 500.

*It's important to check the individual supplier's washing recommendations as these can vary.