Tag Archives: insomnia

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

 

SING IT OUT LOUD AND BE HAPPY!

YAAY, Jason Mraz!!!!!

I fell in love with this next song, maybe it was the beat, the lyrics, or just the fact that I think Ingrid Michaelson is the cat’s meow, right up there with Mraz and, yes, Bruno Mars (!). Yes, I know, the lyrics can seem depressing, but if you are the “You” in this song, you will never fall and never be alone…Anyhow, I love this next song, depressing or not…

I’ll bet if you felt down before Mraz’s “I’M YOURS,” you felt or will feel better for hearing it. It is surely better than any benzo and if ADs work for you, well, all I can say is a jolt of Jason Mraz and Michaelson’s “EVERYBODY” (see at bottom) would be a quicker and whole lot safer than messing with your serotonin and norepinephrine levels just because Big Pharma wants your money and claims the AD’s work as they say they do. Trust me. (No, why would you trust me???? You shouldn’t trust me, I know nothing except what I read, and I don’t read all that much, due to my vision problems…)

Still, I can’t help but wonder if music played a bigger role in treatment of depression and even of schizophrenia, whether people wouldn’t get better a lot faster, or at least learn to calm themselves reliably and find a way to talk about what is going on rather than taking pills to render them oblivious. Music alone might be enough to put things back together again…Music and sleep, which knits up the raveled sleeve of many a care in this world, “balm of hurt minds” and as Shakespeare knew well, the lack of which can spell danger even for the hardiest soul.

But if we get our sleep via benzos or some other drug that knocks us out, are we really getting brain rest, or just body rest? Moreover, will we regret listening to the docs who prescribed nightly benzodiazapines after we find out we have developed either acute amnesia or its much more tragic cousin, Alzheimer’s Disease? I wonder. I wonder…How much will we choose to blame ourselves for not knowing better, and how much will we dare blame any doctor, who after all and after “primum non nocere” (First do no harm…) right? just how much will we dare to blame the doctors who told us the stuff was okay, not dangerous, and certainly better than suffering from insomnia.

Listen, insomnia is  a drag, and I have suffered enough of it for, well, I won’t say “for a lifetime” because that would mean I’d had enough, and I haven’t. But I don’t like not sleeping, not one bit. Sometimes I take Benadryl to sleep at night because i’ve been sold that same bill of goods that says, “Okay, it is OTC and therefore  must be essentially harmless.” It helps me to get to sleep yes, and sometimes even to stay asleep, though with narcolepsy it is hard to know whether or not any sleep will be properly restorative, natural or “unnatural”.

That said, Benadryl, as I am reminded every time I feel like pigging out after a night when I took 50mg…is an antihistamine, and anti-histaminic drugs (like Zyprexa) have this unfortunate side effect of inducing weight gain. So I won’t take Benadryl very often. Otherwise my appetite goes way overboard and I feel that same “eat! eat! eat!” anxiety that has nothing to do with food per se, and everything to do with yet another drug’s untoward side effects.

So what do I do in order to sleep? Well, first, I try not to worry about it…because that way disaster lies. If I can’t fall asleep easily, and with narcolepsy I should be out like a light within 4 minutes, but if that 4 minutes drags on into 7 or 10 minutes or more, I have learned to get up and do something else. I try mightily not to worry about not sleeping because it won’t do me any good. It will only make me more anxious.

So sometimes I get up and do art for a couple of hours. Or write, which in my case is far from a soporific activity. If I really am desperate to sleep, as I sometimes feel (though in my life, on disability, really everything can wait, and be postponed, if I can’t drive the next day due to lack of sleep. No one is going to need me for anything that can’t bide its time. ) Really are any of us indispensible? Maybe as a mother or parent you feel you are. But if you get snappy and  do things you wouldn’t ordinarily because you force yourself to perform on too little sleep, who are you serving — say it honestly? Wouldn’t your family be better served by your deciding to take care of yourself and sleep in, or take a nap instead of doing whatever it was you promised them you would do?

Well, enough for the evening. I am sick of lecturing and indeed I should be, because NO ONE listens to lectures, and diatribes. No one. So instead, I’ll shut up. Why not listen to “Everybody” by Ingrid Michaelson instead!

LOVE to EVERYONE,

pam