For a weighted blanket to provide the necessary pressure to be effective, there needs to be some form of weighted filling added to the blanket.
What Does the Weight in a Weighted Blanket Do?
The reason weight is added to a weighted blanket is to provide a principle called deep touch pressure (DTP). This added pressure is what creates the benefits of using a weighted blanket.
Deep touch pressure, or deep pressure stimulation, calms the nervous system like a gentle but firm hug or squeeze.
You may have experienced this already from receiving a comforting hug or resting under heavy quilts on a bed. Some people liken it to the weight of a protective x-ray covering.
The pressure on the body from the extra weight switches the nervous system over from the “fight or flight” mode to the “rest and digest” mode.
It’s why so many people report getting better quality sleep using a weighted blanket at night on their bed. It allows them to become calm and sleep more deeply.
How Is the Weight Added to a Weighted Blanket?
Generally, the weight is created in a weighted blanket by sewing small pockets into the material and dividing the added weight evenly among the pockets.
Dividing the weighted material equally among the pockets is vital to providing an even weight distribution over the person’s body for optimum benefits.
There are often differences between weighted blanket brands that depend on the size of the pockets and the material used for the added weight.
Durability is also a factor and depends on the type of sewing used to create the pockets. In the early days, there were a lot of reports of pocket seams bursting open and beads leaking into the bed like sand.
Now, quality manufacturers make use of newer sewing technologies to create stronger stitching that doesn’t tear under the heavy weight of the blanket.
Plastic Beads for the Weight in a Weighted Blanket
Plastic poly pellets were one of the original choices for the weight in weighted blankets, mainly because they are cheaper than most other fillers.
These plastic pellets are made from polypropylene and are generally considered safe and non-toxic, plus they can be washed. They are like the texture of very small pebbles.
However, as a cheaper filler, they can cause a reaction in sensitive people, and they have been known to cause lumps and a rustling noise that some individuals don’t like.
In recent years, they’ve fallen out of favor with manufacturers who produce quality products because many people prefer hypoallergenic materials like glass beads.
Glass Beads for the Weight in a Weighted Blanket
Currently, the most popular choice for adding weight to a weighted blanket is glass beads, which are quieter than the plastic pellets, and they’re safe for the washer and dryer. (Check the label for care instructions.)
Glass beads are hypoallergenic, odorless, and non-toxic, making them a good choice for people who suffer from sensitivities and allergies.
When it comes to heat buildup under a weighted blanket, glass beads are also a good choice because they don’t retain heat, keeping the sleeper cooler.
One other nice feature of glass beads is that, unlike poly pellets that have the texture of small pebbles, they have a texture similar to fine sand.
The finer texture means using fewer glass beads to get the same weight as plastic pellets. It makes for a smoother blanket with a less bulky appearance.
NOTE: Some manufacturers use high quality plastic pellets over concerns about reports of lead and arsenic in some imported glass beads. You can contact the manufacturer of the weighted blanket and ask about their specific product and where they source their supplies.
Nano-ceramic Beads in a Weighted Blanket
We know of at least one manufacturer that uses nano-ceramic beads in their weighted blanket, which is the one we chose for our son to use.
These tiny beads are reputed to be more durable and require less filling than plastic or glass beads. The claim is that they are also quieter and create an even smoother blanket for more comfort.
Our son has used his blanket for quite some time and hasn’t had any issue with these ceramic beads. They haven’t caused excess noise or lumps, or any other discomfort up to this time.
Their durability can make them a good choice for weighted blankets used in busy homes that get a lot of wear and tear.
Organic Material to Create Weight in a Weighted Blanket
In the early days of weighted blankets, some people made them at home and used organic materials such as beans or rice to add the weight.
This practice is not common anymore with the more popular use of poly pellets and glass beads.
There are several reasons why it was never a good idea. Food can spoil over time and it’s difficult to wash these blankets because you can’t submerge the food in water without damage.
Also, if the cost is an issue, you can probably buy enough plastic pellets as easily as buying enough beans. And, you’ll get a better quality weighted blanket.
Weighted Blankets without Added Weight
With new designs coming to the market all the time, the options available in weighted blankets are constantly changing.
These days, you can even find weighted blankets that don’t use an added weight at all. These “weighted throws” are produced with a heavily weighted fiber and look like a regular throw on the living room couch.
These options are very attractive and designed to suit a variety of decors, acting as a great conversation piece. However, they don’t usually have a removable cover, so they can be more difficult to wash.
On a positive note, Bearaby produces these products using sustainable materials and methods for the environmentally-conscious shopper.
As you can see, there are several ways that weight can be added to a weighted blanket. Pick the choice that works best for you and your circumstances to get the best sleep and rest.