A few years ago, I read about the value of weighted blankets for people who live with anxiety. You might be more familiar with them being used for children with autism and incrasingly for adults with dementia or forms of Alzheimer’s.The concept is pretty simple. From the Magic Weighted Blanket website
Weighted blankets, like The Magic Blanket™ , have shown to generate proprioceptive input on our bodies. For many people, this input causes the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, among others. These neurotransmitters released by the brain have naturally calming effects, which have proven to be beneficial for people experiencing sensory integration disorder, anxiety, stress, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and Rett Syndrome. According to scientific studies this kind of pressure increases serotonin and melatonin levels while decreasing cortisol levels. This helps you feel relaxed, sleepier, and an overall better mood – to help you get the best sleep ever!
I tried to access one as durable medical equipment through my insurance. The problem is that not a single durable medical equipment company in Pittsburgh has the blankets in the stock. Insurance will sometimes cover it, but not enough to make it viable for these companies.For Christmas, my partner bought me a fleece blanket. It was an enormous gift! This blanket came in a blue fleece pattern with paw prints all over it, a pattern I loved. She did her research, talking with friends who have them and decided Magic Weighted Blanket was the best option.I tried it immediately and the effect was pretty immediate – the blanket settled around my body, giving me an intense sense of comfort and ease. It is filled with polypropolene balls that conform to your body instantly. Like a beanbag or a ball pit, but much cosier.It is very heavy so not a great sleeping aid at night. Inevitably, I get too warm and kick it off either on top of my partner or onto a cat. So I tend to use it mostly for naps and sometimes to help me relax at night if I feel very anxious. Or I’ll go upstairs when I feel overwhelmed and put it on the bed, sometimes just for ten minutes and sometimes for longer. Just being underneath it helps me feel more grounded. Sometimes, I’ve read a little or listened to a podcast while it is across my legs. And sometimes if I have restless legs, I’ll get it out and just drape it across the lower half of my body. I don’t know why it works for that issue, but it really does.This summer has been pretty anxiety causing so I began looking at the lighter weight weighted blankets. I found they had a very nice cotton sheet fabric. I chose a pink material. A friend asked to buy it for me as a gift because it was something that could actually help me with my noticeable struggle.Lightweight is still pretty heavy. It works the same way as the fleece blanket without the summer suffocation factor. It is a lovely way to cope with anxiety on a hot steamy summer day. It is also light enough to drag onto the bed at night when I wake up and feel that anxiety adrenaline racing through my body. The summer material replicates that nice feeling you get when you have a fresh cotton sheet underneath a blanket with a bit of heft or a heavy-duty comforter.One problem was how to store the blanket so I could access them if I was struggling without having these very heavy items constantly in our way. My solution was a giant oversized LL Bean mariner tote bag – I keep it in the corner of our bedroom with both blankets folded inside and a lightweight pet blanket on top to minimize wear and tear from our cats sleeping on it. This allows me to grab it quickly if I wake up and need it.Overall, I’m very pleased with the blankets. They are very effective at helping me manage multiple symptoms AND getting some decent rest. They can be washed on cold with a dryer which is good because in a household with cats, the hairball grossness is inevitable. And since the cats really like the blankets … this is a good tip. I cannot imagine drying time in the winter for the fleece blanket so I intend to keep it lightly covered as much as possible. Using a duvet cover would interfere with the magic so that’s not an option.You can select your preferred type of fabric and color/print from the store. You also select the size of the blanket, based on the person using it not the size of the bed. This company has tons of great fabrics. They will even make you a two-sided blanket using different fabrics if you request.They offer chenille, soft minky, cotton, fleece, and a waterproof option. Sizes range from 36 b 48 (6 lbs) to a 48 x 79 (20 lbs) version.The biggest concern is the cost. They start at $120 and go up to more than $250 depending on your body needs. That’s a bit of money. It is worth it if you can find it. It is a great group gift to support someone you love who could benefit from this support. You can find homemade alternative versions on Etsy as well and you might know a seamstress who will make one for you.I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone. So that’s a risk. For someone with limited mobility, it may not be easy to maneuver the blanket. I almost wish there was a strap at the top and bottom to make it more maneuverable. The tote bag storage – a storage bag sold with the blanket would be fantastic.The price is the price. The barrier is that insurance doesn’t cover these often enough. Spending even $250 one time versus paying for sleeping meds, restless legs meds, anxiety meds, and other attempts to get some rest seems like a no-brainer, but insurance is not really designed for us to be our healthiest selves is it?I also wish in a market the size of Pittsburgh at least ONE durable medical equipment company would carry these or have an arrangements with a company like Magic Blanket.I also noticed that the company has a Pride rainbow fabric. Pink washing or the message of support all queer folx look for? I’m going with the latter.I’d love to get a chenille blanket in travel size for time on the couch and to drag along when we travel or even just taking a short trip that’s stressful. But three is probably too extravagant.I do want to stress that if you are gifting someone, be very sure you know what material they prefer. This is a very sensory purchase. I’m lucky that Laura knows exactly what I like and my friend asked me to pick one out myself.I’m grateful people care enough about my health to invest in these blankets. They really do help me both manage symptoms and get some sleep when desperately needed. And after all this reviewing, I’m going to go take a nap with the cotton version.