Weighted blankets are still very popular: comforters stuffed with glass or plastic beads can weigh up to 40 lbs, and supposedly they’re effective in helping people with anxiety and insomnia. —
While lots of people swear by them, the studies corroborating the findings are small at best (here you can find the PDF to one of the most widely cited studies).
The idea is that the extra pressure from a weighted blanket on the body can provide a constant stimulation that some people find calming and reassuring. This is especially true in people with autism, who are often prone to “stimming” - self-stimulatory behavior that usually consists of repetitive movements, sounds or ticks that provide constant stimulation to the brain and that autistic people subconsciously seek for comfort.
All that a user has to make sure of is to select the correct weight, and supervise children (weighted blankets can be a suffocation hazard for children).
How to select the right weighted blanket?
The first thing to choose is the weight of the blanket. According to WishingDwell, ideally the blanket should weigh 10% of the user's body weight, although reviewers online state that some prefer slightly heavier blankets which provide a little extra pressure.
Most weighted blankets are flat, but there are also variants that are more fluffy, like comforters (the SensaCalm is one of them).
Finally there's the choice of the type of beads, which are sewn inside the blanket and are what gives it its added weight: plastic beads mean a cheaper blanket, but for those who run hot, a weighted blanket with glass beads is recommended instead.
While most people use weighted blanket to sleep, the benefits can extend beyond the bedroom: even just having a weighted blanket on the lap while sitting at a desk can provide the calming effects (some people use small ones at work too).
It looks like weighted blankets are once again a best selling item for the holiday season and they're here to stay. What's important is to be safe, supervise children, and select the correct blanket for one's needs. So, do they work? While there is corroborating evidence that these blankets can help some people, for now, the only way to know for sure is to try one out.
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