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If you or your child deals with insomnia (*raises hand*) and/or sleep challenges due to autism, anxiety or depression, you may have considered investing in a “weighted blanket” to encourage better rest.
Whether or not you’ve tried one, you’ve most likely heard about weighted blankets as they are wildly popular right now. Here is an overview: weighted blankets are regular blankets or comforters filled with, well, weights! These can vary from plastic pellets to metal ball-bearings or chains to engineered heavy foam inserts. The general idea is that the firm pressure from the blanket feels heavy, snug and cozy – allowing people to fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
Though the idea is meaningful and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence showing that weighted blankets promote better sleep, has it been scientifically proven? The results vary.
The results of a small 2015 study in Sweden can be found in Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. In this scientific study, people of varying ages with insomnia tried out and reported back on their quality of sleep using one particular weighted blanket.
Overall, the results from the study were positive: “…a chain weighted blanket was found to be effective at improving sleep quality in recognized insomniacs, both in parameters measured objectively and subjectively. The impact was more pronounced objectively when the participants reported having a positive experience of using the weighted blanket and if they used sleep medication. No adverse effects of using the weighted blanket were found.”
This is good news. However, I notice that the weighted blanket used by participants is produced by the same company that sponsored the study. This is both curious and worrying.
In another small 2014 New Zealand study, Effectiveness of Weighted Blankets as an Intervention for Sleep Problems in Children with Autism, the results were not as favorable. Unfortunately, in this study, “…Consistent with previous research, the current study did not find weighted blankets to be an effective aid in promoting sleep for children with autism.”
There are other studies of course. And, regardless of their results, it is not to say that a weighted blanket won’t work for you, your child or loved one. But, again, it appears that it is not a “one size fits all” solution.
Options, Options, Options
When it comes to weighted blankets, there are myriad options for weight, size, colour and style.
- Weight-wise, it seems the most popular categories are: 10 pounds, 15 pounds or 20 pounds. Apparently, one should use a blanket that is 10% of your weight. So, if your child is 100 pounds, buy her a 10 lb. blanket.
- The outer covering can be made from anything from polyester to satin to bamboo to cotton.
- Styles/sizes seem to focus on queen or king-size but I am sure singles and doubles can be found.
- There are myriad colours available but, again, generally I’ve seen mostly grey, brown, white, cream and taupe.
No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn!
I am keen to try one out. Unfortunately, my initial jubilation about purchasing such a blanket has abated.
You see, I had recently spotted an ad for a Canadian-made weighted blanket on a social media site (Instagram I believe) offering a special $15 discount. That was just the push I needed as I was considering buying one anyway. As you may know, they’re not cheap: Including the $15 discount and free shipping, with taxes it was still going to be $241 CAD. I was willing to pay that if the health benefits proved true.
However, sadly, it appears this particular company (I won’t name it at this point) is either unscrupulous, unusually busy or highly disorganized. Their initial estimated shipping time went from “end of January” to middle of February to, now, February 22. I ordered and paid for the blanket on January 15! So, um, no. Suffice it to say that I’ve now called my credit card company and asked them to cancel the payment and the order.
My Kingdom for a Good Night’s Sleep
Have you tried a weighted blanket with positive results or do you have a family member or friend pleased with their results?
If so, please comment or contact me to recommend a company (big or small) from which to buy one. I am still game to try out a weighted blanket. However, as outlined above, I had a negative initial purchasing experience and there are so many options to consider and factors involved.
Should I end up buying one, I promise to provide an update.