“It’s basically a heavy blanket," I said to my mam, trying to explain the life-changing purchase I’d just made.
The “proper” name for it is a weighted blanket – it’s a blanket with weights stitched into it, originally designed to help those with autism, or other sensory or anxiety conditions. The weights are often tiny beads of glass or stones. They’re stitched into the layers of the blanket to make it heavy – anywhere between 12 and 25lb.
And I bloody love the thing. Never did I expect the joy that could be found lying under something heavy. It brings a sense of calm that I didn’t even know I needed. It’s what I imagine it would feel like to be back in the womb. Safe. Secure.
I’d go as far as saying that every teacher needs one. Why, you ask? Let me explain.
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Get yourself under this heavenly blanket and all of your stress suddenly disappears. I can’t explain it, but it does. The physical manifestation of this is muscle tension leaving your body. Studies seem to suggest that this is because lying under something heavy (though not too heavy) reduces cortisol.
So, if you’ve had a rough day with Year 9, or some difficult conversations, pop yourself under this bad boy when you get home and feel all of your stress flutter away.
It helps you sleep
I’m normally a good sleeper. Anyone who knows me knows that this is probably my greatest skill in life – I’ve even missed entire days when having a Really Big Sleep.
It didn’t even cross my mind that I wasn’t getting good sleep until I slept under my new blanket. The first time I slept under it, I didn’t move once. Much to my surprise, I woke up feeling like I’d been asleep for weeks. A miracle had occurred; I felt genuinely well-rested on a weeknight! If you struggle with sleep or restlessness, this is for you.
Wrapping yourself up in a weighted blanket is a bit like getting a hug. Yes, I’m aware that sounds bonkers. But the feeling of pressure and weight that it brings is really similar.
According to my internet searching, the blanket causes an increase in oxytocin, a hormone that is also triggered by hugs. I don’t even particularly like hugs, but I’d go as far suggesting I’d rather have hugs with this blanket than I would human hugs, especially given that the blanket won’t give me Covid-19 or annoy me.
I am a firm believer that everyone needs one of these life-changing blankets. Suffice to say, my mam is now also the proud owner of her own heavy blanket and she loves it.
Amy Forrester is an English teacher and director of pastoral care (key stage 4) at Cockermouth School in Cumbria. Views expressed are her own, and not necessarily that of her employer
This piece was originally published on 31 October 2020