A blue and white weighted blanket on a bed

Are Weighted Blankets Safe? Weighted Blanket Side Effects You Should Know

Chances are you are considering purchasing a weighted blanket. But before dropping a chunk of change on one of these popular blankets, you should know some potential side effects.

Weighted blankets may seem like a miracle solution for insomnia and restlessness, but they’re not for everyone. Some claim washing a weighted blanket is a hassle. While others think the extra weight can be uncomfortable for some and cause injuries if misused.

We’ll discuss all the potential weighted blanket side effects in this article. Let’s dive in.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

With the medical technology industry experiencing impressive growth, it’s not surprising that simple therapeutic innovations like weighted blankets are popular. They apply gentle, evenly distributed pressure to your body. This pressure stimulates your nervous system in a way that can help relax your body and mind.

The weight from the blanket creates what’s known as deep pressure stimulation. This gentle pressure activates your body’s relaxation response, releasing serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones that can help reduce anxiety and stress. The result? A calming, soothing effect that may lull you into sleep.

A lady sleeping with a white weighted blanket

Many people find that sleeping under a weighted blanket helps them fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly through the night. That’s because the deep touch pressure is comforting and relaxes the body. The weight also prevents you from tossing and turning, allowing for a more restful sleep.

However, weighted blankets are not for everyone. The pressure may feel uncomfortable or irritating for some. Hence, it’s best for people who enjoy sleeping under heavy covers or the feeling of a firm hug. You may need to try different weights to find what’s right for you. Start with a lighter option, around 5 to 10% of your body weight.

While weighted blankets are considered safe for most adults, you should talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions like asthma, claustrophobia, or circulation issues. The weight could potentially exacerbate these conditions for some.

But when used correctly and according to guidelines, weighted blankets can be an easy, drug-free way to help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety disorders, etc. It may also alleviate health issues like restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and chronic pain. Frankly, you don’t need the huge phenomenal transformational medical technologies to ease some health conditions. A simple weighted blanket can make a difference.

Who Should Not Use Weighted Blankets?

Undoubtedly, weighted blankets are great for many people, but they’re not for everyone. Some groups should avoid using weighted blankets to ensure they have a good night’s sleep.

Children Under 12 Years Old

Weighted blankets could be unsafe for young kids, especially if the weight is too heavy for their small bodies. It may restrict movement or even cause injury. But a small weighted blanket of 5 to 8 pounds may suit a 30-80 pound child.

Anyone With Respiratory or Circulation Problems

The deep pressure therapy it offers makes it unsuitable as it can make breathing difficult. Or restrict blood flow for those with asthma, sleep apnea, or clotting disorders.

People With Mobility Issues

If you have a condition that makes it hard to move freely, a weighted blanket may be uncomfortable or even dangerous. It’s best to avoid them.

Anyone on Medications That Cause Drowsiness

Weighted blankets are meant to be soothing and help you relax. But combined with sedatives or muscle relaxants, it could be hard to wake up or get out from under the blanket in an emergency.

Restless Sleepers

Do you frequently toss, turn, and change positions at night? This blanket is designed for people who tend to stay still while sleeping. For restless sleepers, the weight may feel constricting and disruptive.

Common Weighted Blanket Side Effects

While it helps some people fall asleep, a weighted blanket isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for everyone. Below, we’ve outlined the main weighted blanket side effects to look out for:

Insomnia and Sleep Disruption

Weighted blankets are designed to provide deep pressure stimulation that relaxes the body and mind. However, some people find that weighted blankets cause or exacerbate insomnia and sleep disruption.

The added weight from the blanket may make it difficult for some people to fall asleep. The unfamiliar sensation of weight can be distracting or anxiety-provoking for certain individuals.

Moreover, some weighted blanket users report that the blanket causes them to wake up more frequently during the night or have trouble getting back to sleep after waking up.

The weight may be disruptive to their sleep cycle. Using a lighter blanket, removing the weighted blanket earlier at night, or choosing a more petite blanket can improve sleep quality.

Breathing Difficulties

Critics argue that the added pressure from weighted blankets impedes proper breathing, particularly for individuals with respiratory or lung-related conditions.

Of course, it won’t affect your lungs like vaping could, but you may have issues if you select a blanket with inappropriate weights. The reality is that weighted blankets are not excessively heavy to the extent that they compromise breathing.

Hence, selecting an appropriate weight, usually around 10% of your body weight, ensures that the pressure is distributed evenly without interfering with your breathing patterns.

Joint and Muscle Pain

Weighted blankets apply deep pressure to your body, which many find soothing. However, some people experience joint or muscle pain from the added weight. If you have mobility issues or chronic pain conditions, weighted blankets may exacerbate your symptoms.

Joint Pain

The extra weight from a weighted blanket can strain your joints, especially your hips, knees, ankles, and shoulders. This leads to discomfort, pain, and inflammation in the joints. If you have arthritis or joint injuries, the pressure may be too much to handle. It’s best to talk to your doctor before using a weighted blanket. They can determine if it’s appropriate for your condition and recommend lighter-weight options.

Muscle Pain

Lying under a heavy weighted blanket for an extended period can cause muscle pain, tension, and spasms. The weight may trigger painful muscle knots and pressure points. This is more likely if you’re not used to the feeling of a weighted blanket. It can take time for your body to adjust to the sensation. Using a lighter blanket, limiting use to 30 minutes, and doing gentle stretches reduce discomfort.

It may not be the right product for you if you experience significant or persistent joint or muscle pain from using a weighted blanket. The risks to your mobility and health outweigh the benefits of deep-pressure stimulation. Talk to your doctor about safe alternative options for anxiety, insomnia, or sensory issues. They can recommend treatments tailored to your unique needs and condition.

Allergic Reactions

Some users may experience allergic reactions to weighted blankets. The materials used, mainly the fillers, can trigger symptoms in sensitive individuals.

Common Allergens

  • Polypropylene plastic pellets: The most popular weighted blanket filler can cause skin irritation and rashes in some. While polypropylene is non-toxic, it may feel scratchy.
  • Glass beads: For a smoother feel, some blankets use glass beads. However, the beads can leak, or the casing can tear, causing the beads to spill out. Inhaling or coming into direct contact with the beads may lead to allergic reactions.
  • Cotton, Minky, or fleece covers: The outer cover material may provoke a reaction, especially in those with sensitive skin or fabric allergies. Sometimes, cheaper cotton and wool can feel rough and irritating.

Symptoms to Watch For

Pay attention to any adverse reactions when first using a weighted blanket. Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Skin rash, hives, or irritation
  • Itching or swelling
  • Respiratory issues like wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness
  • Nausea or dizziness

If symptoms appear severe or persist over a few days, consult your doctor. They may recommend antihistamines or steroids to reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort. In rare cases, the blanket may need to be returned or replaced if allergies cannot be managed.

Temperature Regulation Issues

Weighted blankets provide comfort through deep pressure stimulation but can cause unwanted side effects like issues with temperature regulation.

The weight and thickness of a weighted blanket can make you feel too warm, especially in hot weather. The glass or plastic beads inside the blanket, combined with your body heat, can raise the temperature under the blanket quickly. To avoid this, do the following:

  • Use a lighter blanket in warmer months, or lower your thermostat at night.
  • Choose a breathable, natural fiber blanket like cotton or bamboo that won’t retain as much heat as synthetic fabrics.
  • Keep a fan on for air circulation and cooling.

Night Sweats

Weighted blanket users have reported excessive sweating during sleep. The weight and insulation of the blanket activate your body’s temperature regulation system, causing you to sweat even in normal room temperatures. Note the following if you experience night sweats:

  • Use a cooling mattress pad or pillows that draw heat away from your body.
  • Keep a spare set of pajamas and sheets nearby if you need to change during the night due to sweating.
  • Talk to your doctor if night sweats are frequent or bothersome. An underlying condition like menopause or hyperthyroidism could be a factor.

Bottom Line

While weighted blankets can relieve anxiety and insomnia for many, they negatively affect others. As with any product, it’s essential to consider common weighted blanket side effects and risks before diving in.

If you have any underlying health conditions or mobility issues, check with your doctor first. For most people, though, weighted blankets are safe, and the benefits can be well worth it.

But if you must use one, opt for top quality like Gravity or Mosaic Weighted Blankets. Start slowly to allow your body to adjust, keep the weight guidelines in mind, and listen to your body. Sweet dreams, and stay cozy!

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