Proper Weight in a Weighted Blanket
How Heavy Should my Weighted Blanket be?
What’s the best weight for my weighted blanket? Actually, 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 suggests that, with a few important exceptions, it is simply a matter of personal preference.
The “Ten Percent” Myth
It’s on almost every vendor’s site. Many occupational therapists will tell you the same thing. The ubiquitous formula that says a weighted blanket should be roughly 10% of your body weight. Unfortunately, there is not a single research paper that says your weighted blanket should be 10% of your body weight.
The actual source for the 10% formula seems to have come from one or more research papers studying back injuries in school children caused by backpacks that were too heavy.
In those studies the 10% figure was an upper limit, above which, the risk of back injury increased. It had nothing whatsoever to do with weighted blankets.
Apart from safety concerns that come with using a weighted blanket on young children or the elderly, there are no meaningful guidelines on how heavy your blanket should be. In fact, in one study users were allowed to select from varying weights and many people selected blankets that were 20-25% and even higher for themselves!
The truth is that while some people prefer a blanket that is very heavy, others prefer a blanket that is lighter because, for them, a heavy blanket may induce feelings of claustrophobia and create additional anxiety.
One of the reasons the 10% formula shouldn’t be used is because, without taking into consideration the size of the blanket, it provides insufficient information. For example, a twin-size blanket that is 12 pounds will feel much heavier than a king size blanket of the same weight because in the larger blanket the weight is dispersed over a much wider area. In addition, blankets typically cover both the sleeper and the mattress, you almost never get the entire weight on your body like you would when wearing a weighted jacket or vest.
The easiest way to decide what weight is best for you would be to simulate a weighted blanket by using several regular blankets from your home. We have an online, weighted blanket calculator that you may find useful in determining what weight you prefer. It can be found here: Weighted Blanket Calculator | Red Barn Blankets
Except for the special conditions listed below, a weighted blanket’s size and weight are nothing more than a matter of personal preference. Many people seem to enjoy the heaviest blanket they can find, we even have a few customers who use two weighted blanket together! But, for every customer who likes them “super” heavy, we have customers who would much rather have them be relatively light because too much weight makes them feel a bit claustrophobic which just increases their anxiety. As a point of reference, most of our adult customers seem to end up with a blanket that is roughly 0.6 – 0.7 lbs/square foot which is a little above the midpoint of what’s available.
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 awareness required to remove the blanket when necessary, making it a suffocation risk. For similar safety reasons, a young child should also never be left alone while using a weighted blanket.
- The elderly can also 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.
- Anyone using medication which can make then groggy, sleepy or which affects their alertness, should never use a weighted blanket without a medical professional’s opinion. If you have any questions about the medication the person is using, please contact a physician before allowing them to use a weighted blanket.
- Anyone dealing with a medical condition which affects their ability to move, their physical strength, their ability to breath or which impacts their mental awareness, should consult a physician before using a weighted blanket. 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