I have recently bought a weighted blanket, sometimes called a gravity blanket. I understand that they are more popular in USA but in the UK (as far as I understand) they are a specialised item commonly used for people who suffer from anxiety or stress. A weighted blanket, is just that, a blanket (looks rather like a thin duvet) filled with thousands of small glass beads to make it really heavy. The recommendation is that it should weigh about one tenth of your body weight.
Deep Pressure Therapy
I did some research on the subject of weighted blankets and found that they work on the principle of deep pressure therapy (DPT) that has a range of effects including lower blood pressure and a reduction in stress and anxiety. The sensation of being under one of these blankets is described as bringing about feelings of safety and calm and rather like being hugged. As a large proportion of my clients suffer from feelings of stress and overwhelm, I though I would buy one to see if I could use it in a therapeutic setting.
The guidelines suggest that blankets should be equivalent to 10% of one’s body weight and I ordered one that weighs one stone, which represents slightly more than 10% of my own body weight.
The first challenge I faced when it arrived, was getting it out of the box and onto the bed as our bed is a high, old-fashioned brass one. As I successfully pulled up one part of it up the weight of the rest of it kept dragging it down to the ground. It was quite a work-out but eventually I succeeded. The good news is that once a weighted blanket is in place, it will never slip or slide anywhere it is like a lead weight (although we know it’s really glass balls). Iain calls it my chain mail which is a very accurate description.
Feeling pinned down
Luckily, my first night to test it was when I was alone so I didn’t have to consider how to manage it without involving Iain. He, and several other people I’ve spoken to says it sounds like their idea of sleeping Hell. Once I got under the normal covers with this laid on top, I was literally pinned to the mattress! When I am lying on my back, I can barely raise a leg and turning over requires the use of a lot of strength. I’m not joking, a fitful night would probably result in burning a lot of calories and maybe there is the basis of an idea for ‘work-out while you sleep’ application – an idea that would definitely appeal to the very busy and very lazy!
The ultimate hug
I understand the appeal. It is like being hugged and every part of one’s body is enveloped. No draughts, no sticking out feet and when Iain came back and the blanket was just on my side I discovered other advantages. By rolling what would be his half of the blanket if he was interested in being mutually pinned down and laying it along the centre of the bed, I create my own territory. Equitable space that cannot be disputed or disturbed. There is no chance that my bed cover will be disturbed in the night, no fighting for possession of the bed covers and this alone is comforting!
I can’t claim to feel more relaxed and calm because I didn’t have a problem with these things before but I like it – a lot! What I have noticed is that I have had several dreams about loving relationships with family and friends and occasionally old (as in long ago, not age) boyfriends. So, perhaps there is a psychological effect and I am experiencing that feeling of being held safe and comfortable.
Unfortunately, I have decided that it will not be appropriate for clinical use with my clients for practical reasons but I would recommend a weighted blanket to anyone who finds the idea appealing especially if they suffer from stress, anxiety or insomnia. They are not cheap (expect to pay £100 plus) but a good investment. There are versions for children too. I may reconsider the use in the Summer but for now, as Winter approaches, I simply love being pinned down in one of my favourite places – bed.
Please note: I am an early riser and frequently wake up with thoughts and questions on my mind. I write them down and record them in these short unedited, un-researched, unscientific bits of writing. They are written in a half asleep hypnopompic state and should not be regarded as anything more than what they are – random thoughts and musings.