Weighing anywhere from 4 to 30 pounds, these blankets are made to do more than just keep you warm.
What is a Weighted Blanket? A weighted blanket is equivalent to a hug! (to skip my rambling about hugs, just click here and the magic of anchor texts will automatically scroll you down to the actual subject of weighted blankets) Also, if you don’t really know what a weighted blanket looks like, The CALMFORTER Weighted Blanket is “the original” one and looks as follows.
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
– Virginia Satir
The hug is a universal sign of caring, compassion, and empathy; so many emotions and/or thoughts can be conveyed through just a simple gesture. Take a moment to ponder the above quote; do you receive twelve (or more) hugs on a given day?
What is meant by “growth” in this context? Well, did you know there are actual mental and health benefits of being hugged? Benefits that could lead to a more healthy, happy life – hence, growth.
If you fall shy of twelve a day, never fear – that can be remedied without the need for personal contact, especially if you do not like to touch or be touched.
In the book The Art of Hugging: A Heartwarming Guide to Everyone’s Favorite Gesture of Love by Brainard and Delia Carey, chapter five discusses all of the health benefits of the hug. It describes several studies done that set out to test the effects of high blood pressure, stress, heart-rate, and oxytocin levels to name a few.
A quote from The Art of Hugging is as follows:
“Hugging has been shown to have a beneficial effect on stress levels in the body. Blood pressure, heart rate, and oxytocin levels are all stress related, and if the stress levels remain low, then the other factors improve…”
You find The Art of Hugging on Amazon.com by following the link.
Let’s get more detailed.
Benefits of the Hug Explained (truncated):
This very benefit is exactly why physical contact as a baby is so important.
It establishes trust between the parent and the child, they learn where to go for help and who makes up their support system. As adults, when we hug, it is also a sign of trust, we have so much faith in the other person that we trust them with our affections, our unspoken emotions.
Evolutionarily speaking, when hugging, we open our arms for an embrace making our midsections vulnerable, the ULTIMATE sign of trust – interestingly enough, this is also why cats and dogs don’t generally like to be on their backsides.
We all want to feel safe; we want our children to feel, and KNOW, that they are safe and we, as adults, wish to feel safe as well.
Hugging is a way to show this to all of us, even when we are so young we can not even begin to comprehend words let alone the implications. For children, it is important for the parents to convey that they are the child’s safe space.
As an adult, we can choose where, and from whom, we find safety and comfort – in the form of our significant other’s embrace for example. In any stage of life, the hug relays the message that one is not alone in any situation or in life in general.
Increase Oxytocin and Serotonin Levels
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that regulates social interactions, it allows us to have the capacity for empathy, generosity and encourages understanding. It is known as the “love hormone” because its levels rise when we physically interact with our loved ones.
Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that regulates mood, social behavior, sleep, and memory. Low levels of serotonin can be an underlying factor for those that suffer from depression; elevating these serotonin levels means that hugs actually help in lessening the effects of depression.
Strengthen the Immune System
Stress decreases how well the body can fight off illnesses. If one is very susceptible to colds or the flu it could very well be the amount of stress one is under, or perhaps the amount of physical contact with a trusted person they receive.
There are many other amazing benefits of a hug, which I have listed below, but for our purposes, it is not necessary to expound on them here. The ones highlighted above are sufficient to illustrate the point of this article.
- Lifts self-esteem
- Relaxes muscles
- Balances the nervous system
- Teaches giving and receiving
So, why in the world am I rambling on about hugs? Remember when I said there is a remedy for less than twelve hugs? The important benefits we’ve outlined can be found in a newly mainstreamed product beoadly known as the “weighted blanket”.
What is a Weighted Blanket
Weighing anywhere from 4 to 30 pounds, these blankets are made to do more than just keep you warm.
The concept behind this product is similar to deep-pressure touch (DPT), a form of therapy in which firm, hands-on pressure is used to elicit a state of calm. It is also called grounding, literally speaking the weight of the blanket applies pressure pushing you closer to the ground, it too is used to calm.
According to Chopra.com:
“The Earth is like a gigantic battery that contains a natural, subtle electric charge—a special kind of energy present in the ground. For safety and stability, most everything in the electrical world is connected to it, whether it is an electric power plant or your refrigerator. That’s what the term “grounded” means.
Being grounded also applies to people. When you are electrically grounded, you feel:
- Less tense
- Less stressed
Weighted blankets have been used as therapeutic aids for ailments such as anxiety, depression, insomnia and even autism and ADHD.
For some people certain mental states may leave the person in a constant state of “on”, meaning that even when they sleep, the fight or flight response is still elevated. This is caused by increased levels of cortisol and makes sleep irregular, fitful and not rejuvenating.
Using a weighted blanket can decrease these cortisol levels allowing the person a better nights sleep with more productive rest.
So, how does one know what weight is best for their needs?
According to several websites that sell these blankets, the recommended weight for adults is 5-10% of one’s body weight and for children, the recommended weight is 10% of their body weight plus 1-2 pounds.
These blankets are NOT recommended for children under the age of two years old. The child must be able to move the blanket easily by themselves before using one. The blanket’s weight, though, will be highly personalized for each individual and due to the weight these blankets may also make one more warm than they are used to sleeping – something to consider before purchasing one.
**It is worth saying that one should check with their child’s pediatrician, their own therapist or their own primary care doctor for suggestions or thoughts on the use and/or weight of the blanket as they are not indicated for everyone.
Contraindications of the Weighted Blanket
There are not a lot of studies that revolve around the contraindications of weighted blankets specifically but in searching a multitude of sites, I came across several recurring signs that one should not use them.
- Those with chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes
- Women that are menopausal
- People with circulation issues
- Those suffering from any respiration issues such as asthma or sleep-apnea
- Men and women with temperature regulation issues
- Anyone with compromised skin conditions such as an open wound, rash or fragile skin in general
If you have any of the above conditions or ailments – please contact your primary care physician; as these blankets are easily accessible, they are also unmonitored by health professionals. The misuse of any product, instrument or tool can occur easily and quickly when one does not have the proper knowledge or take the proper precautions.
Where to Find A Weighted Blanket
It only takes a few keystrokes to search Google for these products. From there it is a matter of what one wishes to use the blanket for, anxiety etc, one’s taste and the budget with which they work.
Below is a list of some of the more well-known and trusted sights along with one that seems to be an innovator of the weighted blanket. Since this is not a “sales” article, feel free to search for yourself out there in the wild wild web (www?)
Amazon.com offers weighted blankets though, with prices ranging from $60 to $240 and I couldn’t resist recommending the tree weighted blankets that laid the foundation of this articles research.
The CALMFORTER Premium Weighted Blanket is the ”original” weighted blanket, and it is still the best one up to date in the opinion of maaany people. It also comes in pretty much any colour.
The YnM Weighted Blanket is, just as the Calmforter a full sized one but come with at a bit better prize. They both can be used by both children and adults.
Harklas Weighted Blanket for Autism & Anxiety is for children who weight 30 to 40 lbs (13-18kg) and it also includes a ebook “10 Best Ways to Improve Your Child’s Autistic Symptoms” which can come in handy.
- Weighted blankets could be covered by insurance if one’s primary care physician writes a prescription. Make sure to call and check with your insurance provider before you get too excited – this will also be helpful as I’m not sure many primary care physician would think to PRESCRIBE one so wouldn’t know if insurance benefits for them.
- It is possible that weighted blankets could also be considered a medical expense for taxes in some places.
Now to wrap all of this up into one neat paragraph – you may have noticed (or maybe not) that I left out an entire section dedicated to the benefits of a weighted blanket. I did that specifically because I BEGAN the article discussing all of the wonderful things that they could do, only you read them under the benefits of the hug; they both yield the same positive effects on the mind and body!
It is amazing that just the weight of a blanket can elicit the same results as a hug; it is even more amazing how the human body reacts to such things in such a positive way. All of the things I have learned in researching weighted blankets has this writer wanting to try one first hand!