Weighted blankets are the latest rage to calm and relax and are being used to treat a number of different sleep-related disorders. The blankets have a similar effect to Deep Pressure Tissue Stimulation (DPTS) which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and encourages the release of serotonin and dopamine for better sleep.
However, there are some risks associated with the use of weighted blankets. Most of the concerns arise from the weight of the blanket.
So how heavy should a weighted blanket be and how what are the risks?
Weight Guidelines For Weighted Blankets
Most commercially available weighted blankets weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. However, it is generally recommended that the blanket weight should be calculated according to the intended user. The recommended guideline has been established as calculating 10% of body weight. If the blanket is too light, a pound or 2 can be added to the equation.
To provide a general idea of Body Weight to Blanket Weight Ratio, check the table below:
Body Weight vs Blanket Weight
|Body Weight||Blanket Weight|
|100-120 pounds||10-12 pounds|
|120-150 pounds||12-15 pounds|
|150-200 pounds||15-20 pounds|
There are however some additional factors that should be taken into account when choosing the ideal weight for a weighted blanket. Most of these factors relate directly to the risks associated with weighted blankets.
Risks Associated With Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets were once restricted for use in hospitals and clinics. As they have become more widely available for use by any person, it is important to understand the risks associated with use.
Who Shouldn’t Use Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are not recommended for use for the following people:
- Infants and toddlers where the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) may result.
- Frail elderly or underweight seniors.
- Patients with respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
- People with sleep apnea.
- Those with poor circulation.
- Patients who are diabetic.
- Persons with open wounds, rashes or other skin conditions.
Using weighted blankets for these individuals may aggravate their existing health condition and can, in some cases, prove fatal. It is always recommended to discuss the use of a weighted blanket with a medical practitioner – especially if the intended user has been diagnosed with a chronic health condition.
RELATED: Best Weighted Blankets for Seniors
Risks Associated With Weighted Blankets And How To Use Them Safely
1. Restrictive And Constraining
Blankets that are weighted should also not be used to restrict movement or to constrain. If the user cannot remove the blanket without assistance, the blanket is too heavy.
There are cases where weighted blankets have been used to restrict movement or constrain people. This is especially true for people on the autism spectrum and elderly patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who can become easily agitated and aggressive.
Using a blanket to restrict movement increases the risks associated with weighted blankets and in some cases has resulted in death.
2. Duration Of Use
There are currently no risks associated with the duration of use of a weighted blanket that is the correct weight and size. The blankets are deemed safe for use during the day and at night and can be used for an entire night’s sleep.
However, common rules for sleeping should be applied especially when it comes to frail, ill or bed-ridden people. If sores, bruising or discomfort occurs as a result of use, the blanket should be removed or used for shorter periods of time. For patients who are at risk, a weighted blanket should only be used until sleep occurs and should then be removed.
If a patient experiences numbing or tingling sensations after using a weighted blanket, it may signify poor circulation or that the blanket is too heavy. It is not recommended to use weighted blankets for people with poor circulation as it can restrict blood flow further.
Diabetics are particularly prone to poor circulation and are therefore not good candidates for therapy with a weighted blanket.
Using a weighted blanket is often described as feeling similar to getting a really big hug. The blanket should inspire feelings of comfort, calm and relaxation. However, some people might find the experience to be restrictive and uncomfortable.
This is especially true when the blanket is to heavy. Persons with claustrophobia may also experience discomfort when using a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets can increase body temperature and are not recommended for use in people who have difficult regulating their own body temperature.
It is recommended that a person who is frail or suffers from a mental or physical health condition should be monitored while using a weighted blanket.
Monitoring should continue until safety is established for the specific individual. Partial monitoring should continue after safety has been established.
Respiration, heart rate and blood pressure should be monitored. (See the best heart rate monitor watches here.)
Choosing A Suitable Weighted Blanket
If you are looking at buying a weighted blanket, it is recommended to choose one where weight can either be added or subtracted. Alternatively, there are many methods for making your own weighted blanket that is ideally suited to an individual following the above-mentioned weight guidelines.
You can see all my weighted blanket buying guides here.
Sources and Additional Resources: