Learn how to use a weighted blanket for therapy or daily use here!
In this article:
- Using Weighted Blankets for a Good Night’s Sleep
- Length of Treatment
- Applications of Weighted Blankets
How to Use a Weighted Blanket to Improve Your Mental Health
Using Weighted Blankets for a Good Night’s Sleep
If you haven’t heard of weighted blankets and their diverse applications, you might be skeptical. Maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, but how can a blanket relieve my symptoms?”
Whether you’re living with insomnia, sensory processing disorder, autism, anxiety, fibromyalgia, or another chronic condition, using a weighted blanket can provide life-changing benefits that allow you to be more functional and less symptomatic.
Whether you’re using a DIY weighted blanket or loving the one you purchased, how do you use it for the best results? The steps below help you maximize the benefits of weighted blankets.
Step 1: Choosing Your Blanket Weight
To get the full benefits of a weighted blanket, you want to make sure you’re getting one with the proper weight for you. While traditional guidelines recommend 10% of your total body weight, if you’re new to weighted therapy, it’s best to start at a lower weight and work your way up.
When looking for a weighted blanket, try to find one that’s between 7-9% of your body weight.
What does this look like in real terms?
|Total Body Weight (pounds)||Blanket Weight (pounds) at 7%|
If you know you’ll feel more comfort from more weight without feeling like you’re being suffocated or constrained, you can add a pound or two to your blanket weight.
Even though the chart starts at 80 pounds and only goes up to 200 pounds, anyone* can use a weighted blanket and reap the benefits of weighted therapy.
*Babies under one year of age and people who cannot move the blanket off their body on their own should not use weighted blankets for safety reasons.
It’s important to note that weighted blankets are designed to fit your body and not the bed. This is why at Sonno Zona we designate blanket size by discrete measurements in inches rather than traditional bed sizes.
Step 2: Choosing Your Weighted Blanket Method
There are infinite ways to use your new weighted blanket. Whether you want to use it regularly or just when you feel like you need it, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Option 1: Therapeutic Usage
Once upon a time, if you wanted to use a weighted blanket to treat a condition or disorder, you had to go to an occupational therapist.
They would combine weighted blanket therapy with another type of therapy (based on your specific needs, such as life skills training or talk therapy). Now you can experience the benefits of weighted blanket therapy in the comfort of your own home.
This is huge because some people have agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces where escape isn’t easily possible) or social anxiety (stress experienced by being around other people). People with these conditions directly benefit from weighted therapy, and now they can take advantage of it without triggering other issues.
On the other hand, a weighted blanket also helps with minor conditions like stress or insomnia.
What types of disorders and conditions can benefit from weighted therapy? Here are just some of them:
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Sensory Processing Disorder
Fibromyalgia Definition: This condition causes chronic pain all over the body. Those who suffer from this illness are also sensitive to pain and muscle stiffness.
Weighted blankets can help with such a wide range of symptoms, but you might be wondering how exactly a heavy blanket does all this.
Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) stimulation is what gives the weighted blanket most of its benefits. When the blanket is being used, it provides the body with the proprioceptive input needed to regulate stimulation overload. It has a calming effect on the body’s senses, addressing sleep problems to give you a therapeutic night’s sleep.
You might be wondering what proprioception is.
Proprioception is one of the eight senses your body can take in and process, along with the following:
- Visual (sight)
- Auditory (hearing)
- Tactile (touch)
- Olfactory (smell)
- Gustatory (taste)
- Interoception (internal physiological sensors)
- Vestibular (movement)
It’s the sense that lets you know where your body is in space at any given time. It plays a role in focus, coordination, posture, and many more things that help you self-regulate.
When your proprioceptive system is off-balance, it’s important to regulate it, and DTP therapy, like using a weighted blanket, can help.
Weighted blankets help regulate your proprioceptive system when you lie under the blanket. The evenly distributed weight of the material allows it to touch your entire body and give it the necessary sensation (pressure) to be able to know where your body is.
Dysregulation of this system occurs when you get too much or too little sensation anywhere in the body. It’s precisely this deep pressure that allows you to feel your body again.
While under the blanket, you can practice self-regulation as well, for those times when you can’t lie under your blanket. While lying down, mentally focus on each part of your body where you can feel the pressure.
For example, your shoulders, your arms, your wrists, your chest, and so on down your body to your feet. As you become aware of your body under the blanket, it will be easier to be aware of your body while you’re not.
Option 2: Everyday Usage
Because a weighted blanket is non-invasive and non-pharmacological, you can use your blanket any time you need it. It can be a short-term solution to an acute problem (such as pain or seasonal depression) or a long-term solution to promote feelings of overall wellness.
Everyone experiences sadness and loneliness at some point in their life. While you might not feel like seeking professional help from a therapist or medication, you know you could benefit from some extra help.
A weighted blanket might be the answer for you, too.
The DTP when you curl up under the blanket, perhaps with a cup of tea and a good book, will still release dopamine (the “pleasure” hormone), serotonin (the “happy” hormone), and oxytocin (the “love” hormone) that give your brain a boost.
It also works to reduce your levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone), letting you relax and feel your anxiety lessen.
As with therapeutic uses, you can stay under the blanket for as long as you’d like, so long as you’re comfortable and can physically move for safety reasons.
Length of Treatment
So, how long should you stay under the blanket? Five minutes is certainly different than five hours, and you might be curious about the “sweet spot” of DTP therapy.
As with the weight, it’s recommended you start with a shorter session of about a half-hour and work up to a longer session of about two hours.
You can certainly stay under the blanket for longer than two hours, such as when you’re sleeping, but it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable with the feel of the blanket and the pressure before you use it while sleeping.
Applications of Weighted Blankets
As you can see, weighted blankets are as versatile as the people who use them. They can be used to lessen the symptoms of many disorders and conditions. If you think a weighted blanket can be included in your current treatment or a way for you to cope with life better, consider purchasing one of our minky weighted blankets.
Not only will the weight help, but the minky fabric has raised fabric bumps on the blanket that provide extra sensory stimulation. Minky fabric stays soft for a long time, even after it’s washed several times.
Invest in one of Sonno Zona’s weighted blankets today and start feeling the relief you deserve to live a life of wellness and calm.
Whether you need weighted blankets for adults or kids, having one is essential for therapy or daily use. If you suffer from certain pains and other mental conditions, then sleeping with one can help you tremendously.
Do you know how to use a weighted blanket? Have you tried to sleep in one? Share your experience in the comments section below!
- Can A Weighted Blanket Help Relieve Your Chronic Symptoms?
- How To Incorporate Weighted Blankets In Occupational Therapy For Autism
- Weighted Blanket Review Video
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 12, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.