Choosing the Best Weight
Asking "What weight should I get?" is one of the most commonly asked questions concerning weighted blankets. As it turns out, the answer may come as a bit of a surprise. As of this writing there have been no scientific studies done to determine either the most effective or the safest weight for a weighted blanket. The best anecdotal evidence currently available suggests that, with a few exceptions, it is simply a matter of personal preference.
The “Ten Percent” Myth
Whether you’ve scoured the internet or discussed the topic with a medical professional, you’ve probably heard the advice of taking 10% of the user’s weight plus or minus a pound in order to get the “correct” blanket weight. The problem is, it’s incorrect! That formula does NOT come from any studies on weighted blankets but seems to have come from one or more research papers studying back injuries in school children.
In those studies, the researchers determined that using backpacks heavier than 10% of the child’s body weight increased the risk of back injury. Somehow this research got inadvertently picked up by weighted blanket advocates and even by some medical professionals as a guide to determining the proper weight in a blanket, however the idea of 10% of body weight was a safety limitation for backpacks, never a weight recommendation and it had nothing to do with weighted blankets.
There are four kinds of users where extra care needs to be taken and personal preference may need to be constrained for safety reasons.
- Children under the age of three or who still sleep in a bed or crib with rails should, in general, not use a weighted blanket without the direct recommendation of their physician. At that age a child may not have the strength or the awareness to be able to list a blanket off of their face when needed and it therefore can become a suffocation risk. For similar safety reasons, a young child should also never be left alone while using a weighted blanket.
- At the other end of the spectrum, the elderly, can sometimes have strength or mental acuity issues and thus you should get a physician’s approval before using a weighted blanket with people in this group.
- The third group needing special consideration can include a person of any age who happens to be taking medication which can dull their senses or make them groggy or sleepy. These are the medications which typically warn about not using heavy machinery while using the medication. If you have any questions about the medication the person is using, please contact a physician before allowing them to use a weighted blanket.
- This group includes anyone who is dealing with a medical condition which might affect their ability to move, their physical strength or which might impair their ability to breath or impact their mental awareness. Some examples would be muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, COPD, pneumonia, emphysema, etc. This is not a comprehensive list of conditions, you should ALWAYS check with a physician if there are any concerns or questions.
- You should ALWAYS check with a medical professional before using a weighted blanket on a child or if there are any questions or safety concerns