For Sensitive Bodies and Sensory Overload: A Weighted Blanket

When I first spent time at Natchaug Hospital, at the time when Sharon Hinton, APRN, was still the director of nursing and it was a decent non-abusive hospital (in 2011 and 2012), I learned about weighted blankets and the amazing benefits to be gained from their use when stressed, upset, and in need of self-soothing or calming. Not everyone benefits, I gather, but if you suffer from PTSD or any of these other disorders. you might find a weighted blanket useful.

  • ADHD/ADD
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Aspergers Syndrome
  • Autism or ASD
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Brain Trauma Injuries
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Dementia
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Insomnia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Pervasive Development Disorder
  • PTSD
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Sensory Integration
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

One problem with buying  a weighted blanket for most of us however is the cost. If you don’t have $400.00 dollars on hand, it can be prohibitive to get the best or even a full-size heavy blanket. I don’t know about you, but a mere lap-size thing doesn’t do it for me, even though they tout the uses. I tried one at Yale for lack of anything better, and it did nothing at all but feel like a pillow on my lap. This was ridiculous. They would have done much, much better if they had handed me a real live cat and not pretended to be doing something useful with that silly piece of fabric.

The heavy full-size blanket, on the other hand, was great. It felt like a cocoon or a huge hug that held my entire body without restraining me. I could move around in it, and yet it held me warmly and gently. Nothing kept me in against my will and I could get out from under whenever I wanted to. In fact, the nurses made me leave before I was ready. They actually took it away after twenty minutes which was silly. This was way too short and arbitrary a time in which to keep the blanket on me. I was NOT used to it by then or calmer. Not at all. I wanted to stay inside it  and needed it on me longer. But they said the protocol was for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off so the person didn’t accommodate to the weight. Silly reasoning. Why didn’t they ask if I felt better or was calmer? Or ask me some other question.

Anyhow, here are the directions and photos for making your own homemade weighted blanket. It is quite easy and inexpensive, and you only need to do a little hand-sewing, or if you prefer, just use some heavy-duty glue (E6000 is the best), and velcro. Both ways are fully washable.

Directions for Making A 15 pound Weighted Blanket:

The first two photos show half of the “inside, or under side, of a kingsized coverlet that I sewed Dollar Store (2 for $1) microfiber washcloths onto, making pockets. (BTW pay no attention to the the shoelace ties and buttons, which never worked but were part of a first experiment…) I placed the fuzzy side of the washcloths facedown. This is important because when I glued velcro’s stiff bristled half, face up, to the blanket at the pocket tops, the microfiber washcloth gripped it perfectly, so there was no need  for the softer side of velcro on the inside of the pocket itself.

Handmade weighted blanket with microfiber pockets for rice bags
Handmade weighted blanket

Next, (see the close-up photo) I filled quart size freezer bags (a box for  $1 at The Dollar Store) with 1/2 to 1 pound of raw rice, depending on the weight wanted, and then double-bagged these. Note: my blanket has 15 pockets but I’ve found that 15 pounds of rice is actually heavier than I personally want, despite what I thought…).Depending on your own body weight, you could prefer between 10-25 pounds of rice. The chart I found said that a person weighing 112 pounds might need 10-15 pounds and a person weighing 185 pounds would need approximately 25 pounds of weight. On the other hand, the hospital never allowed anything more than a mere 10 pounds, erring on what i consider an absurd side of caution for all…So you can gauge your needs from that.

Be aware however, that despite what a 15 pound bag of raw rice might saw on its side, it usually contains much more than 15 pounds so weigh each bag you fill carefully, don’t just divvy up a bag of rice into equal parts.

Rice Bag for weighted blanket
Rice Bag for weighted blanket

Fill the pockets with the rice bags and press-seal the washcloths against the velcro. Flap the other half of the blanket (final photo) over the pocketed half and use as a twin size weighted blanket. It works fine like this, but you could add velcro to the blanket sides themselves if you  wanted to seal it up completely.

Weighted Blanket Open
Weighted Blanket Open

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted Blanket, Closed
Weighted Blanket, Folded Closed

By the way, for gluing the velcro I used the E6000 glue, outside on the driveway on a plastic sheet, on a sunny day…I would not use anything else, but don’t do it inside without plenty of good ventilation as it is poisonous and you use a lot.

Good luck and feel free to email me or comment if you need help or have any questions. Sorry if I didn’t provide enough details but I didn’t want to overwhelm you here. I would be happy to provide more privately or in the comment section if anyone is interested.

M sleeping under my homemade weighted blanket
M sleeping under my homemade weighted blanket

 

6 thoughts on “For Sensitive Bodies and Sensory Overload: A Weighted Blanket”

  1. If you would ever like to share your own design here, I would publish it. It would be an interesting compare. 40 lbs — wow! you don’t find that oppressively heavy? I can barely lift the bag that contains my 15-20lb blanket…and I find that distributed over my body, the weight that I have in mine seems to be all I can take. How did you make yours and what did you use for weights? I am interested in anything you can or would share with us!

    Thanks,

    Pam

  2. dear Marie, Yes! I did eventually get that website reference, it went into my junk mail box but I found it no worries. I love the site Beyond Meds and get an email every time she updates the site. Thank you very much! Pam

  3. This is really interesting. I’d never heard of weighted blankets but when you think about it, it does sound comforting. They look really pretty too.

  4. Now Pam, ain’t I jealous? I will come back to this post later and work myself some one day. As an aside, I sent u an email on a site I recommended ( beyond meds) , hope you got that mail. Cozy off my friends 🙂

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