My weighted blanket – what is it and why did I get one for Christmas?

I thought I’d do a bit more of an in-depth post about one of my Christmas presents because some people have no idea what they are, and in any event I’m moving away from monthly favourites posts to articles with more information on one topic.

When I first started to learn about sensory differences, I thought all of my behaviours were sensory avoiding ones. Like avoiding loud noise or certain textures. But now I see that that from a young age, I showed signs of sensory-seeking behaviour too, like the hours I would spend on my swing, or the drama with the duvet and the sheets.

I’ll explain! In those days, we had a normal sheet, and then another sheet on top of that, to go over you, and the duvet or blankets on top. But that upper sheet between me and whatever else was on the bed had to be pulled really tight. I always asked my Nan to make it as tight as she could before she said good night.

When I was old enough to do it myself, I always did. Not just at bedtime. If I got out of bed in the night, the whole procedure had to be done again, even when I was half-asleep. I’d kneel down on the floor next to the bed and push the sheet as far under the mattress as it would go. Then I’d inch my way in from the top, only pulling it as far as necessary for me to get under and feeling that tight cocoon feeling of being wrapped up. Not quite the same as the weight of a blanket, but I knew I liked it and it made me feel safe and cosy so that I could fall asleep again. That was just the way the bed had to be!

Later we did away with these extra sheets and just had duvets, but I always wanted the heaviest one I could find, even in the Summer. As an adult, I left the same Winter duvet on all year round and maybe added something extra in the Winter. Not because I was cold, but because I wanted the extra weight on top of me.

I often used to sit with my dog on my lap – not a little lap dog, but 34 kg of golden retriever. Sitting with her and stroking her had its own beneficial and therapeutic effects, but I never thought anything of all that weight on my lap.

Finding out about weighted blankets

So then I started hearing about weighted blankets. I’d had one on my Amazon list for a while, but I’d never seen one. And that was the problem – firstly the expense, because they aren’t cheap, but secondly although I love online shopping, I really wanted to see one and to touch whatever it was that made it feel heavy. Nobody has them on display though. You have to buy them online. And that worried me because it would be a lot of money to waste if I wasn’t ok with the texture of the material used to give it the weight.

Once you start looking out for something, you se it cropping up everywhere. I noticed posts on blogs about them and how they helped children who wanted the same kind of sensory input. I kept thinking about it, but didn’t get round to buying one. I also kind of hoped it might drop in price a bit as things on Amazon sometimes have a tendency to do, but these are specialised and therefore I didn’t fancy my chances.

So when S asked me to make a Christmas list, I started with the things on my Amazon wish list. I didn’t want a specific one, but I found the link to one and added it to the spreadsheet. He ended up choosing a different one, but I’m not sure I would have indulged in this for myself, so I was very happy about it turning up under the Christmas tree!

The blanket arrives!

On Christmas Day I had a very heavy box to open! A 15kg heavy kind of box! It was my blanket!

It was a bit different to what I’d imagined. It’s not as big as a double duvet, but it can go over 2 people when folded out, so it’s a double one. I thought the weight of it would be concentrated over a smaller area, but then I realised it was supposed to be a double one!

The idea is that the blanket goes over the body, and it’s not supposed to hang over the bed, otherwise it will just pull down towards the floor. You can get different weights depending on a person’s body weight and preferences.

The tiny beads are kept in place in squares, so you don’t have the problem that they all fall down to the bottom or to one side. It can apparently go in the washing machine, but I dread to think how heavy it will get when full of water – it’s heavy enough now. So I’d want to reduce the need for that to happen and put it in a duvet cover or something if you’re not going to have it on top of your duvet as we do.

We put it on the bed on Christmas night and I had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time. I don’t have sleep issues, but I would say I sleep better with it on – it’s a deeper and a better quality of sleep. The weight relaxes me and although hew wasn’t originally the one looking for one, S seems to like it too!

It is fine now, but it will be too hot in the Summer. I hadn’t really planned on having it on the bed, so when the weather gets warmer, I’ll take it off and use it as a blanket on the sofa in my office. For times when I’ve had enough or need some balancing time if I’ve felt overstimulated and want to hide and snuggle under its weight .

How do weighted blankets help?

Weighted blankets look and feel like normal blankets, but they are heavier, because they have been filled with tiny polypropylene pellets that are distributed evenly throughout the blanket in squares that are about the size of a hand when it’s spread out.

The feeling of the weighted blanket is often compared to the sense of being hugged. This can help people who like to feel the pressure of being squeezed in a big hug, or apparently it is also good for some people who don’t like so much physical contact with another person, but who enjoy the pressure sensation.

It’s said that using the blanket is similar to deep pressure therapy and stimulates the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter – a chemical in the brain that can make us feel calm, happy or relaxed. It’s often released when we do things like hugging, and therefore the weight of the blanket is compared to that feeling of being hugged.

I can’t give advice for individuals and wouldn’t want to. Some people will like them, others won’t.

From what I’ve read, some people on the autism spectrum as well as those with anxiety and/or sleep issues have said that weighted blankets have helped them. I’ve read most about them on blogs related to autism, but the blankets are used by neurotypical people as well.

I know that in the past, when I’ve felt sensory overload or just stressed out after a long day, I’ve gone to bed and burrowed right under the duvet, sometimes piling other blankets on top. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but just did it because I thought it would help. My blanket fortress to keep out the things that were stressing me out! For me, the weighted blanket is a cosy, heavy extension of that!

Have you ever heard of or used weighted blankets?

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12 thoughts on “My weighted blanket – what is it and why did I get one for Christmas?”

  1. Hi Kirsty,
    What a coincidence! I also bought a weighted blanket, which arrived just after Christmas. I’m glad you like yours, but I’ll have to send mine back as it doesn’t have any positive effect on me. On the contrary, I feel like imprisoned under that weight. To me, it feels just heavy, disagreeably heavy. Unlike you, when I come across a bed with the sheets pushed under the mattress, first thing I do is pull the sheets completely out of that mattress. Only then do I have that feeling of being able to move freely around in my bed. It doesn’t feel cosy at all with that heavy blanket on me. It gives me a feeling of not being able to move. It’s such a pity. I had read so much positive feedback about those weighted blankets and I had been looking forward to mine so much, but after testing it for almost 4 weeks now I’ve decided to send it back. Enjoy yours, and thank you so much for sharing your experience on your blog.
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Reni,

      I’m sorry that the blanket didn’t work out for you.They aren’t for everyone, and it’s good that you had the opportunity to send it back if it didn’t do what you wanted it to.I can see how what some people find comforting could end up being restrictive and uncomfortable for others.

  2. I have 5 layers of blankets on my bed. 1 is a fleece, 1 is a sheet, 2 are knitted and the top one is like a quilted bedspread. I do get cold, but also love the comfort of them. Even in summer. I’ve never really thought about the weight of them being something I might like. But maybe that’s what it is!
    Does the weighted blanket make you hot?

    1. Ah so someone else who likes the layers! The material isn’t furry like a fleece, although I suppose you could put it in a fleecy cover. I don’t think it would trap the heat in particularly on a cold night, because the heat might get out where the pockets are stitched together and the material feels quite thin there. But having the additional weight would probably make it too hot in the middle of Summer.

  3. That is wonderful! I am so glad you benefited from the weighted blanket! My mom made my sons and filled each pouch with a baggie of weighted rice. I can never wash ours (and my dogs are secretly drawn to it although they do not know why 🙂 ) So glad you got one and it works for you as well as it does my son!

    1. I didn’t know you had dogs! Yes, I read about the blanket you got for your son and that was about the time I was seriously looking to see where I could get one. I’m glad it is helping him too 🙂

  4. I used to like sheets tightly tucked in, that just bought back some childhood memories I’d forgotten! I like the extra weight too; I use the duvet, then a blanket and then a dressing gown for this. It’s odd because I’d never put the two together before I came across weighted blankets maybe last year. I struggle to calm myself or sit and focus on watching something in bed on TV even, unless I have the weight, and just one blanket won’t do.

    I’m so glad S got you one, even if it wasn’t the one you’d linked to, and it sounds amazing. I hadn’t realised quite what these were supposed to be like in terms of size or actual weight either, so this made for interesting reading. I’d love to check one of these out. Do you have a link for this one at all? However, if I had the choice, I’d go for the 34kg golden retriever! 😀

    Caz xxxx

    1. Haha golden retrievers are the best!

      This one was actually nicer than the one I found. I’ll ask S if he still has the link and pass it on to you if he does.

      Yes, to be honest I’d thought about it more as a calming tool, rather than something to sleep with. I think it will end up being both.

      Thanks for your comments XX

  5. My husband has always like being held, hugged, leaned on and having the weight of blankets onnhimmeven if he is hot. So I got him a blanket for Christmas and he loves it. He has had less nightmares and looks forwards to going to sleep now which is a turnaround. He feels much more safe and it means he doesn’t feel so anxious when I’m not there. It’s an extra thing to help calm
    His psychotic symptoms somewhat. Not a cure but something that soothes him a bit. If anyone enjoys extra weight I’d give it a try. They are quite expensive and better to get one with a washable detachable cover or put it in a duvet cover. But a lot of online ones have a test period which is good. The smaller the squares the better. I’m getting him another one with smaller squares. I don’t live it for myself but I have a fear of small spaces and the olde I get the more panicky I get about being trapped and feel I can’t breathe just by lying in normal but suddenly wrong position. I’m practicing with the blanket by putting it over my lower half and when I’m comfortable with that, putting more one. Once I’m used to it, I like it unless I’m having a panic. It’s surprisingly warm
    Considering it’s just two sheets with balls between some of them. As in where the weight is is an extra layer or cover but at the top of the pockets it’s just the two sheets.
    I wish I’d bought him one years ago.

    1. That’s great that the blanket helped your husband so much. How big are the squares on the one with smaller squares? I can imagine it must be a bit hard if one person loves it and the other feels a bit trapped by it, but hopefully you can figure out a way for it to work for both of you.
      Yes, they are expensive, but if it’s an option, I’d recommend it for anyone who likes the weight or deep pressure sensation.
      I guess the smaller squares keep the beans in one place better?
      Thanks for sharing your experiences XX

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