Frequently Asked Questions
Will a weighted blanket help me?
We all have different sensory preferences so there is no absolutely definite way of knowing unless you try out a weighted blanket. But there are some clues. You are more likely to like a weighted blanket and benefit from it if:
¬ you like the feeling of being wrapped up, tucked in, squished in a small space, 'buried', 'in a burrow'
¬ you sleep with lots of bedding on even in warm weather
¬ you like feeling your body moving, jumping, running, dancing, 'rough play'
¬ you fidget and fiddle to concentrate
Weighted blankets may help some people to calm themselves, relax and regulate their emotions, including those on the autism spectrum or who have ADHD or sensory seeking or avoidance issues. They may also help some people to manage anxiety and sleeplessness. However, the severity of your symptoms is not a good indicator of whether you will benefit from a weighted blanket. (E.g. more anxious people don't necessarily benefit more) It depends on whether you enjoy the weighted experience in the first place.
If you would like to try out a weighted blanket, LaughLand has a trial service. Details here.
Where are your weighted blankets made?
LaughLand weighted blankets are made in Queensland, Australia. Anne sews each weighted blanket individually to your requirements. They are not mass produced in factories overseas.
What do you put in your weighted blankets? What makes them heavy?
I use glass microbeads and plastic poly pellets. Both are good fillings for weighted blankets. Here's a rundown of the similarities and differences and the results of some testing. My default option is glass microbeads. Please ask for poly pellets if this is your preference.
What are they? - The glass microbeads I use are approx. 1 mm - 1.7 mm in diameter. They are round, like tiny marbles, and don't have any sharp edges. They are small, but not so small that they are powdery. The plastic pellets I use are low density polyethylene (LDPE) approx. 3 mm in diameter. Both are solid, round and hard. Glass beads are denser i.e. heavier for their size, more compact
Appearance - Glass bead weighted blankets lie flatter because the beads are finer. Plastic pellet blankets are bulkier and the sections look more obvious.
Feeling on body - The weight distribution for both glass and plastic feels continuous when the blanket is on you (you can't feel the separate sections). One tester noted that glass beads felt more evenly distributed. 3 out of 3 testers thought that glass beads did not feel as heavy as plastic pellets of the same weight. This must be psychological (since the blankets actually weigh the same). Perhaps the glass bead blanket feels lighter because it is less bulky. Glass beads feel less restrictive so it feels easier to move around. Plastic pellets feel more enclosing so you feel less like moving. Which feeling is better is a matter of personal preference.
Handling - When felt with your hand through the fabric, glass beads feel like coarse sand. Plastic pellets feel lumpier, more separate, like little beads. Glass bead blankets fold up smaller.
Noise - Glass beads are less noisy and less noticeable when the blanket is moved. They do have a sound but are not as 'rattly' as plastic pellets.
Hot/cold - Both glass and plastic are thermally stable i.e. they don't heat up or cool down. Both types of weighted blankets retain body heat because they fall closely around your body. One tester thought that a glass bead blanket would be cooler but we haven't tested this in different weather conditions yet.
OVERALL RATING - Overall, a glass microbead weighted blanket is less noticeable than a plastic pellet weighted blanket. Depending on your needs, this might be an advantage or a disadvantage. My testers preferred glass microbeads overall. (Note that they are young women who regularly use a weighted blanket and find it beneficial but who do not have a diagnosed disability, mental health or sensory issue).
Glass microbeads are my default option. Poly pellets are not inferior, just different. They feel more substantial, more like there really is something on top of you. This may make them better for people who know they want pressure or who use the weighted blanket for sensory regulation or retreat from sensory overload rather than for sleeping. In certain circumstances and for certain uses, one filling may be preferred over the other (e.g. hospital wards that do not allow any kind of glass whatsoever).
Washing - Both glass beads and plastic pellets can be washed in a washing machine and dried in a dryer. I have washed and weighed a sample glass microbead blanket several times and am satisfied that the microbeads will not come out of the blanket through the seams. Microbead weighted blankets have a 1 cm edge that is double stitched for extra security. I cannot absolutely guarantee that over time glass beads will not migrate from one section to another inside the blanket through the stitching. As far as I can tell, other sellers who use glass microbeads only stitch these internal seams once. I will monitor my trial blankets that are washed frequently between borrowings and report on any changes.
Chemical properties - Neither glass beads nor plastic pellets are manufactured especially for use in weighted blankets. They are mainly used in other industrial processes. According to the product safety data sheets, both are non-hazardous materials that do not present a health hazard to people that handle them. Plastic will burn at very high temperatures but neither is flammable under normal household conditions. Both have no smell, are chemically stable and don't degrade or emit fumes.
Health effects - Glass beads and plastic pellets will escape if a weighted blanket is cut open. LDPE plastic and glass are both used in food packaging so if swallowed accidentally, they are both not poisonous and will go straight through you. The safety data sheet says that glass beads can cause nausea (but it doesn't say how much has to be swallowed.) Because they are larger, plastic pellets are more likely to be a choking hazard. Because they are smaller, glass beads are more likely to be inhaled or cause irritation if rubbed in the eye or on the skin. If a weighted blanket is damaged only the beads or pellets in the damaged section will escape and should be cleaned up as soon as possible.
Environmental impact - Glass is probably better than plastic if it ends up in landfill or at the bottom of the ocean. Both are completely recyclable but in practice i can't see this happening to either because the small size of the particles makes them too hard to recover. Glass is made of minerals especially silicon. Plastic is a product of oil. I don't know if one production process is more energy intensive than the other.
How do I clean and care for my weighted blanket?
All LaughLand weighted blankets are machine washable. Washing won't damage the fabric or the glass microbeads or plastic pellets. However, if the weight is heavier than your washing machine can handle, it may unbalance or damage your washing machine. For heavier blankets, I suggest using a commercial washer at a laundromat. I wash 6 kg blankets in my home washing machine which is a 7 kg model, and I wash blankets heavier than this at the laundromat.
Hanging over two lines of a clothesline is an easy way to dry. It is also perfectly safe to dry LaughLand weighted blankets in a clothes dryer. Again, I recommend a large commercial dryer if you think the weight could unbalance your home dryer.
I have read that weighted blankets should weigh 10% of body weight. Is this correct?
Recommendations about the best weight for a weighted blanket vary from 10% of body weight to 20% of body weight. Unfortunately, these recommendations rarely specify the size or area of the blanket, and are therefore not very helpful. It is the pressure (weight per area) that is important, and that determines how heavy the blanket feels when it is on you. If a blanket is bigger but the overall weight is the same, it will feel lighter on your body. If a blanket is smaller but the same overall weight, it will feel heavier on your body. The amount of blanket that is touching your body doesn't increase or decrease with the size of the blanket.
Many of my customers ask for a certain weight based on the recommendation of an occupational therapist. From this experience, I think that the best size and weight for a child under 10 is a 100 x 150 cm blanket that weighs between 3 kg and 4.5 kg. A blanket this size that weighs less than 3 kg will be quite light. Depending on the fabric, sometimes the fabric alone weighs about 800g. Even if the blanket feels very heavy overall, remember that not much of the surface area and therefore the weight will be lying on a small child. Most weight will be lying on the bed.
Can you make a weighted blanket wider than 110 cm?
My standard weighted blankets are 110 cm wide because 112-114 cm is the standard width of most cotton fabrics. Most wider blankets require extra fabric sewn along the sides to create the additional width. The blanket in the first photo below is an example of this. Blankets wider than 110 cm are comparatively more expensive than 110 cm wide blankets because of the additional fabric and more difficult handling and sewing.
Minky fabrics and a very small number of cotton fabrics are manufactured in a wider width. The blanket in the second photo is an example of this.
A wider blanket may be the best size for a bigger person, but it's not necessarily a good choice for everyone. The overall weight of the blanket must increase for it to feel as heavy on the user as a narrower blanket. Wider blankets are considerably heavier and more expensive, and a lot of the weight may end up on the bed rather than on the person.
Can you make a weighted blanket in a single bed size?
Unfortunately there is no standard way to describe the size of weighted blankets and different makers and sellers use different terminology. I have chosen to name my standard sizes according to the size of the person they are intended to cover, rather than the size of what they are lying or sitting on. Some sellers use the terms 'single', 'king single' etc, but these are not standard sizes. The actual measurements of a 'single' weighted blanket vary between sellers and are not the same size as a single bed doona or quilt cover or to the top of a single bed.
My kid's weighted blankets (150 x 100 cm), teen weighted blankets (160 x 110 cm), adult weighted blankets (170 x 110 cm) and long adult weighted blankets (190 x 110 cm) are all single bed width and roughly equivalent to other sellers' 'single' bed size. They vary in length so that small children don't have to handle a weighted blanket that is a lot longer, heavier and more expensive than they need. Children are not as long as their beds, and when they are, they will most likely require a weighted blanket with more pressure. The photo below shows the length of my 'kid's size'. The girl in the photo is 15 years old, so this size will easily cover a 3 - 10 year old.
I receive NDIS funding. Are you a provider? I receive other funding. Can you give me with a receipt?
Yes, LaughLand Weighted Blankets is a registered provider of supports under the NDIS. I can give quotes, enter into service agreements and be paid via the NDIS. I can make weighted blankets to suit your individual needs by varying their size, weight and fabric. There is more information about the NDIS here.
I provide detailed quotes and receipts if you need them a access other types of funding.
What does science say about weighted blankets?
There is a growing body of evidence from occupational therapy that weighted blankets are effective for 'self-comfort, rest and to reduce anxiety or stress'. Weighted blankets are commonly recommended by occupational therapists and psychologists and are used by hospitals, schools and disability services. Although there is still a lot to learn about exactly how and why they work, weighted blankets are considered safe, and effective for some people.
A quick internet search reveals a lot of claims about the benefits and use of weighted blankets, many appealing to science. I encourage you to read the information, articles and research published by occupational therapists and academic researchers, rather than the promotional material from makers and sellers of weighted blankets which often over-simplifies and misinterprets the actual science. Here is a selection of further reading:
"Weighted Blankets and ADHD: What You Need to Know" by Tara Drinks
An easy-to-read article from a US-based not-for-profit website devoted to learning and attention issues that discusses the use and selection of weighted blankets generally. The points about how weighted blankets work and what to know before buying a weighted blanket are relevant for all potential users, not just those with a diagnosis or suspected diagnosis of ADHD. Recommended! Link to web page here.
"Weighted Items: Tools for Helping Children Learn to Regulate". Information paper published by the Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development.
This article contains references to academic research but the early paragraphs are a good summary in fairly plain English of scientific knowledge about the calming effect of weighted items, including weighted blankets, lap pads and weighted toys. The later paragraphs about sensory rooms and sensory processing are more specialised. Link to PDF here.
"How Much Weight Should Your Weighted Blanket Have?" by Kristi Langslet.
An article by an American occupational therapist which explains the differences between weighted blankets and weighted vests/backpacks. The US website that hosts this blog post does have an online shop, but I have included it because the writer is an OT. Other articles on sensory topics in the blog. Link to web page here.
Slide presentation from 2007 American Occupational Therapy Association's Annual Conference. Summary of research by Champagne, Mullen and Dickson. Emphasises that body weight is generally not a factor influencing the amount of weight preferred, and that weight guidelines for backpacks and vests should not be applied to weighted blankets since they are used very differently. Simple language but a few slides to look through. Link to PDF here.
"A Sensory Life!", the website of American occupational therapist Angie Voss. About sensory topics generally, rather than just weighted blankets. Easy to read. Promotes understanding of sensory differences, particularly in children. Link to website here.
"Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia" by Ackerley, Badre and Olausson.
This study found that weighted blankets had an overall positive effect on the quality of sleep in a group of adults who complained of insomnia. The most popular weight chosen by the participants was 8 kg (from choice of 6 kg, 8 kg and 10 kg). Details of how sleep quality was measured is technical, but introduction, discussion and conclusion are written in plain language. Link to PDF here.
"Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket" by Mullen, Champagne et al.
This academic research finds that weighted blankets are safe for adults and are effective for reducing anxiety for some adults. The weighted blankets used in the study measured 193 x 142 cm (76" x 56") and weighed 13.6 kg (30 lb). Academic language but introduction, background info and results not too technical. Link to PDF here.
"Evaluating the Safety and Effectiveness of the Weighted Blanket With Adults During an Inpatient Mental Health Hospitalization" by Champagne, Mullen et al.
A follow-up study, again using 13.6 kg weighted blankets, that found they were 100% safe and effective for 60% of adult patients in a hospital setting.
The introduction discusses how weighted blankets are thought to influence the body's sensory processing, and more specifically sensory modulation. Sensory processing is the way the nervous system manages information the body receives through all the senses. Sensory modulation (one component of sensory processing) is the way the brain sorts out the information from all the senses so that we respond with our body and our behaviour in the way that is best for functioning in daily life. Weighted blankets provide deep pressure touch stimulation and are a 'non-invasive and self-directed' way to influence sensory modulation. The authors note that a lack of evidence for deep touch pressure does not mean that weighted blankets are not an effective therapy; it means that more research is needed to develop the evidence base. Link to PDF here.
"Physiological Effects of Deep Pressure Touch on Anxiety Alleviation: The Weighted Blanket Approach" by Chen, Yang, Chi and Chen.
These Taiwanese researchers found that 150 x 70 cm weighted blankets were effective in reducing the anxiety associated with dental treatment. The details of how they measured anxiety are very technical, but an interesting use of weighted blankets in a specific anxiety-producing setting. Link to PDF here.