a family of pigs under a weighted blanket

Weighted Blankets as RLS Treatment

My kids have sensory issues, specifically that they need a lot of sensory stimulation in order to feel calm and to control their bodies in space. I take them to various therapies for these issues and their occupational therapist recommended weighted blankets, vest, lap pads, and to incorporate “heavy work” into their lives to help them get enough sensory input to stay regulated.

Weighted blankets have come a long way

This was right when the “weighted therapy blanket” thing was starting to make roundup lists and news articles. When I first heard of weighted blankets, they were quite boutique: you had to have a person hand make them for you and they were quite expensive. Now, though, all I had to do was pop onto the internet and pick out the sensory tools I needed for my kids.

Choosing my kids' blankets

The occupational therapist recommended getting blankets no more than 10 percent of my kids’ body weight, but my kids were little and I wanted the blankets to last more than a couple years. So, for both kids, I got 7-pound blankets, rationalizing that they wouldn’t have the whole twin-sized blanket on their bodies all the time, minimizing the pounds spread across their tiny torsos.

I got plain, gray blankets so they wouldn’t possibly offend my picky kids with a design whim that will only change as time goes by.

Adding one more blanket to the cart

Then, before I hit “checkout,” I toggled the little “size” button on the product and saw that there was a 20-pound twin-sized weighted blanket, aka the size I’d want for myself.

It was more expensive than the 7-pounder but I let my finger linger over the button, deciding if the experiment was worth the money, before adding one more gray blanket to the cart. I could return it if I hated it.

An instant sense of relief

The blankets arrived and my kids took to them nicely. When it came time for me to hit the sack, I slid under my heavy blanket and enjoyed the cool, smooth texture. I wasn’t sure if it was too heavy, though.

As I snuggled up under my 20-pound blanket, I felt an instant sense of relief. My joints all over my body felt nicely compressed, like I was getting a hug from a big, strong, loving force.

Finding stillness and sleep

That night, my usual restless legs were quiet. My chest felt calmer and I could find stillness under my blanket as I drifted off to sleep. My husband and I already used separate blankets because of my sleep issues, so he didn’t object to my trying out the new blanket and was happy under his regular quilt.

A welcome surprise for my restless legs

I hypothesized I might feel calmer under my weighted blanket, but the effect on my restless legs was a wonderful surprise.

Now I know weighted blankets are a well-documented alternative treatment for restless legs and, for me at least, it worked. I swear by my weighted blanket and will tell anyone who will listen about the therapeutic effects of weighted blankets, even if you’re not a kid with sensory issues.

Interested in reading more about alternative treatments for symptom relief? Explore our featured collection on lifestyle changes and alternative treatments for RLS.

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