Weighted blankets are an up and coming fad that has been used to treat a variety of ailments, but what do we know about the safety of the heaviest weighted blanket?
Quite simply put, weighted blankets offer relief from symptoms due to the heaviness and gentle pressure embedded in their structure. They implement deep pressure touch to create a sense of grounding in individuals.
Typically, research shows that the blanket weight should be about 10% -12% of an adult’s body weight (Walker & McCormack, 2002). However, we have found this rule to be misguided, and the following article provides evidence that the heaviest weighted blanket is safe and can produce therapeutic benefits.
Before we dive into the science we must caveat that with all the different sizes of weighted blankets available on the market, the research outlined below is relevant to 56-inch x 76-inch weighted blanket. A smaller sized weighted blanket that weighs 30-pounds may have more concentrated pressure that would be uncomfortable to an average adult. Further, a larger size weighted blanket may provide less pressure.
Average Vital Signs Based On Body Position
Each of the 32 participants was split into one of two groups. Group one laid down for 5-minutes in a hospital-like room with no blanket while at the same time, group two laid down for 5-minutes in a hospital-like room with the 30-pound weighted blanket. After the 5-minutes, everyone took a quick break, then returned for another 5-minutes of the opposite condition.
You may be asking, “Why a hospital-like room? I’m going to use this thing at home, not a hospital.” The study was determining if the heaviest weighted blanket would be a safe alternative to restraints during crisis situations, which typically occur in the hospital. Hospital weighted blankets are no different than weighted blankets used at home; hospital settings are typically more stressful than at home, and thus if the blanket alleviates stress in the hospital then it will at home as well.
Are Weighted Blankets Safe: The Verdict
Basically, there wasn’t much change between no blanket and the heaviest weighted blanket, which means, weighted blankets are generally safe to use. You can stay asleep knowing that weighted blankets are typically not causing harm to your health.
How Do These Results Apply To Me?
It’s important to note that the participants in this study had no health issues and had no physical impairments within their life.
This study is basically generalizable for people who are millennials or middle-aged who have no prior health concerns.
Again though, they were using 30-pound blankets, which are the heaviest weighted blanket, so it’s possible that a lighter weighted product could help those who have had medical issues in the past, but more research needs to be done to determine this for sure. If you’re a healthy person between the ages of 18–58 and choose a blanket 30 pounds or below, then the blanket is generally going to be safe.
If you’re a healthy person between the ages of 18–58 and choose a blanket 30 pounds or below, then the blanket is generally going to be safe.
Can We Trust This Study’s Results?
The people who conducted this study came from a University; To administer research in a University setting, you have to jump through tons and tons of hoops, and that’s before you can even recruit people! So yes, this study is credible and backed by IRB (the review process students and professors have to go through before conducting a study).
Consistency is vital when conducting a valid study, meaning blanket size, blanket weight, the room the research was conducted in et cetera all need to be the same. By having more control with variables, it’s easier for other researchers to replicate the study to see if the results are replicable amongst other populations or settings.
This study accounted for room temperature, weighed each blanket to ensure they were exactly the same, and even standardized the environment in which people laid to test the blankets.
I would like to caveat here, that studies that lack control can sometimes be more applicable to everyday life, as there is no control in the real world. (: All studies serve a purpose, and not one is better methodology wise than the other in the sense of control.
The only “flaw” if you want to call it that I see in this study is that there weren’t precise averages for vital signs in the lying down position. After I did some digging, I found averages that were slightly different from what the researchers had noted. The differences were minor and probably did not mean much, but it’s worth mentioning to all the skeptics out there!
You may be thinking in your head, okay well they only tested for five-minutes, who lies down for only 5-minutes? You’re right, no one that I know of at least. However, the researchers defended this by citing Grandin (1992), who said changes from the blanket are observable within minutes and if no significant changes occurred in five minutes, then it’s pretty safe to say a healthy adult can fall asleep with these blankets and be safe.
Again, they were testing to see if this is something that could be used for people in crisis, so for that purpose, the 5-minutes was sufficient. As anecdotal evidence, I sleep with a 23 pound blanket as a 120-pound female and have no problems with the blanket heaviness.
Weighted Blanket Safety Instructions
- Weighted blankets are generally safe for a population that does not have any preexisting health conditions and appropriate vital signs.
- With the appropriate amount of weight used on each of these participants, I believe the researchers would have felt more comfortable extending the experiment past five minutes.
- Other studies have utilized weighted blankets overnight for their studies, thus providing more evidence that weighted blankets are a generally safe device for people.
- This research does not give the okay to use weighted blankets for children, as the participants were adults.
A bunch of researchers tested a 30-pound weighted blanket to see if it was a health risk to the people who used it. They tested this by measuring vital signs and listening to participant feedback. The major drawback is they only tested this for 5 minutes, but the positive is that all participants reported a positive experience and all but one found the weight to be manageable.
Citation to Full Study
Mullen, B., Champagne, T., Krishnamurty, S., Dickson, D., & Gao, R. (2008). Exploring the safety and therapeutic effects of deep pressure stimulation using a weighted blanket. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24(1), 65-89. DOI:10.1300/J004v24n01_05