Weighted blankets have exploded onto the scene. This has been a boon for autistic people, because it means they can find one with the right weight and in a preferred color at the store instead of custom-ordering it online. But what is a weighted blanket? And what are the benefits of weighted blankets?
A weighted blanket is one that contains small weights to hold it securely against the body.
When it is properly sized, it creates a warm, swaddling that is calming to those under it.
The right weight is determined on your body size and strength. You don't want a weighted blanket so heavy that you have trouble breathing, and one that completely covers and weighs down a child threatens to suffocate them.
A weighted blanket is great for better sleep. It creates the same soothing instinctive reaction as swaddling a baby. However, you have the ability to lift up the blanket and get out of bed as required. The weighted blanket typically stays in place. This prevents people from waking up because they sense a disturbance or have a cold spot because they kicked a blanket
away. A side benefit of the blanket is that it doesn't feel constricting, though you're somewhat being held in place. That's why they're appearing in dental practices to reduce
anxiety and keep people still during procedures.
Weighted blankets can soothe and calm people at other times, too. We mentioned how they can help people with autism find inner peace. It can provide some relief for anxiety and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, as well. Unlike squeeze boxes, you can take the weighted blanket with you wherever you go.
Another point in favor of weighted blankets is their simplicity. Wrap it around the person or lay it on them, and you're done. You don't have to deal with complex devices or equally complex routines. Maintenance is relatively easy, too. Depending on the design, you can either put the weighted blanket in the washing machine or remove the washable cover and machine wash it.
There is tentative evidence that it can provide some pain relief by providing constant stimulation for pressure points. On the other hand, simply improving sleep quality can improve one's mood, and depression compounds perceived pain levels. Weighted blankets are a simple solution for keeping limbs and joints that benefit from heat warm without dealing with hot packs or medicinal creams.
We already mentioned the risks posed by weighing someone down too much. A good rule of thumb is that the blanket should weight five to ten percent of someone's body weight. If it weighs more, it can trigger claustrophobia or cause actual problems breathing. This also means that young children shouldn't be covered in Mom's weighted blanket.
Yet the very sensation of being weighed down can be a problem in its own right. That sensation can trigger claustrophobia in those who have that particular fear. If someone already has trouble breathing, they shouldn't use a weighted blanket. This includes asthma, COPD and sleep apnea.
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