Weighted Blanket Benefits – Lifting the Weight of Stress and Exhaustion

Weighted Blanket 1

For four years my son did not sleep through the night. Four years! We tried everything. Establishing routine, vitamins with melatonin, changing bed position, night lights, no night lights, humidifiers, white noise, no noise, essential oils, everything. To add to the non-sleeping cycle, our younger son quit sleeping when we moved into our new home. His non-sleeping added to the exhausting fun for 18 months until my friend Michelle told me about how using a weighted blanket had helped her son to sleep through the night and calmed him when he was in high stress situations.

I thought, “What the heck. I’m gonna give it a try.” I called my seamstress mom and asked her to look into making weighted blankets for my boys.

As a special education aide, my mom had actually already looked into making these magic blankets because she believed they would help some of her students and was eager to create some to witness their effectiveness. We weighed my boys to determine each blanket’s weight. The weight of the blanket should be 10% of the owner’s body weight. To create the comforting but cozy blankets we had to choose a cool but study fabric and ordered the polypropylene pellets.

The boys loved their blankets from the moment they held them. While the sleeping did not improve immediately, once we got the boys used to the routine of being tucked in and reassuring them that their “magic” blankets would keep them safe, sleeping improved. I have to say we sleep almost five nights a week without interruption now. We have had the blankets for a  few years now and still use them almost daily. (They aren’t always needed to sooth now, but they are always comforting.)

The blankets have also helped when my son was experiencing some severe anxiety. Starting school was really tough on my boy and each day we had melt downs. To sooth him I often wrapped the blanket around him and just let him feel loved and safe. The weight clearly eased his tension quicker than my hugging arms could alone.

Weighted Blanket 2The weighted blanket for my younger son has been a blessing when he really needs a nap. He will stop fighting us and rest much faster when the blanket it laid across him. There is something about its weight that eases him to a restful state with less frustration.

The science behind the blankets evolved from Keith Zivalich’s Beanie Baby inspired blanket in the 1990’s. Zivalich’s idea came from the comfort provided by his child’s Beanie Baby lizard. After a name dispute with Ty Corporation, The Original Beanie Baby Blanket became The Magic Blanket in 1998 and the benefits for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Process Disorder (SPD) were quickly discovered.

The comfort provided by these blankets is referred to as Deep Touch Therapy. The weight of the blanket applies pressure to points in the body causing the brain to release the calming chemical serotonin. When released serotonin calms the nervous system and digestive system and starts the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin tells the body when to sleep leading to a more restful state. Similar practices have been used for centuries by indigenous tribes (including Native Americans) and hospitals through the methods of swaddling fussy infants.

The benefits of weighted blankets include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Help in controlling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Reduced sensory overload for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Process Disorder (SPD)
  • Lessen insomnia
  • Calms Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Calms children during meltdowns
  • Makes stressful transitions less traumatic
  • Assists in classroom focus for children with autism and improves fine motor skills in classrooms that utilized blankets for student with ASD and SPD
  • There are no side effects from chemicals or drugs
  • Acts as a hug or a massage

The blankets have made a positive impact in our home and many other homes that I know. If you are considering a weighted blanket for your child or self, check with your doctor first. There are a few individuals with cardiopulmonary conditions for which the blankets are not ideal. If you are looking for a way to reduce anxiety and assist in sleeping, a weighted blanket may be what you need to lift the burdens of stress and exhaustion in your life.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Nightly, I enjoy the way my weighted blanket lifts my daily aches and worries.

Security Brought on by Blankets

Security Brought on by Blankets via Daily Prompt: Blanket

Stolen blanket 1

When you become a parent, you give up the rights to many things. Six years ago I gave up ownership of a blanket.

The blanket was a Christmas gift from my Secret Pal. I liked the blanket. It was festive and cozy. My two year-old liked it more.

As I was 8 months pregnant at the time, I couldn’t chase her very well when she ran away with it. I was too round and too nauseous to run. I really didn’t put up much of a fight.

She sure loved that blanket. Stolen blanket 21It went everywhere with her. It made her feel safe in any situation and comforted her when she was sick or exhausted. That blanket provided a lot of security for my little girl.

Today that blanket continues to be her traveling companion and provides needed comfort often. It also makes a great foot warmer when she is playing on her tablet. 🙂

png 1 What is it about a blanket that provides us with comfort?

Many of us have that one special blanket that softened our childhood. It provided security when we felt scared and soothed us when we needed consolation. Security blankets and leaving them behind are rite of passage.

When I was little I didn’t carry around a blanket. I had a frilly, silk pair of underwear that I loved. Yup, underwear. Today not many little girls have silk underwear with lace sown across the back, but in the early 1980’s a few of us still donned them. I didn’t wear the silky underwear though. I held them between my fingers as I sucked my thumb. Sounds pretty cute right? Well, eventually it wasn’t cool to carry around a pair of underwear or suck my thumb, so I moved on, but we don’t all have the luxury of outgrowing our security blankets.

png 1 Did you have a security blanket?

When my son was born, his godmother gave him a sweet, snuggly blue blanket with his name embroidered on it. The blue blanket wasn’t a big one. It was a small, square fleece with sateen border. It had just the right-sized tag for my little guy to wrap his finger in and he rarely went anywhere without it. One day when he was 2 1/2, we had multiple doctor and pharmacy appointments for his ear infections. It was a rough day. It only got rougher that night when we realized blue blankey was gone!!!! I called and drove back to all of our stops the next day. No blankey was to be found. My mom lovingly made him a new one, but it was just never the same.

png 1 Have you ever lost your security blanket? Continue reading “Security Brought on by Blankets”