I’m not a doctor so this is just my own personal opinion. I have also never been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome (RLS).
What I can tell you is that for the majority of my adult life I have had very active legs during sleep. At times during the day my legs hurt for no apparent reason. Long flights and car rides are basically a form of torture. I’m not sure the reason but I suspect that it has something to do with my time in the military. I don’t think a person can do three tours overseas and not be changed by it. That being said, I have always been a very active sleeper, tossing and turning all thorough the night. My relief has come in an unlikely place… a spontaneous Christmas gift from my wife.
Let’s Back Up
A couple years ago I got a Christmas gift from my wife. It was a medium size box that was comically heavy. I had no idea what it was. Certainly it was nothing close to the things I had asked for, if I had asked for anything. I open the box and its a piece of flannel looking material at the top. I’m thinking at that moment that she bought my some flannel shirts and weighed them down with rocks to completely throw me off the actual present. Turns out it wasn’t a prank as I had imagined but an incredible weighted blanket. To top it off I learned she had actually made it herself.
Jennifer: “I was actually on Facebook following a friend who did a post about helping traumatized children and kids with Autism sleep better. It peaked my interest because someone in our life has Autism. What I didn’t expect was to read about how weighted blankets can help people with PTSD sleep better at night. As soon as I read that I knew it’s what I needed to do for Darren.”
The blanket itself is long enough for a 6 foot tall person. It is probably throw blanket dimensions but I’ll measure it or ask Jennifer the true dimension when I get a chance. The unique feature of the blanket is that in between the fabric layers are weighted beads that she had to sew in. It has a quilted look because the beads are a certain size. She made mine out of shirt flannel but I’m sure if you have a blanket material of choice it is interchangeable.
The benefits of using the blanket have been night and day. I try and use the blanket most nights but it does not always stay on the bed. Because of its weight it is hard for Jennifer to move around and she likes to make the bed in the mornings. So normally when I get out of bed I put the blanket in a metal bin that I keep on my side of the bedroom. Some nights when I’m having a hard time sleeping and Jennifer recognizes that I don’t have the blanket on the bed she’ll put it over me. I sleep so much better with it that it is sometimes difficult for me to get to sleep without it.
Jennifer says: “He definitely sleeps better. I notice he doesn’t toss and turn or talk out in his sleep as much. But I won’t lie, it can be a pain to sleep in a bed with what feels like a rock barrier between me and my guy. It’s worth it though to know he’s getting better sleep at night and I really believe it makes his life better as a whole.”
The blanket is not without a few drawbacks. For one, because of the design it is extremely heavy. I personally like to sleep that way but some people might find it constricting. My blanket is sized for me so if you are married it might be a good idea to make a full bed sized one with only half the blanket weighted. It would be even heavier but would make the blankets uniform rather than one person being under different blankets than the other. Another drawback is, as I understand it, it was difficult to make. From what I was able to glean from Jennifer’s explanation you have to place the beads, sew around them, and then place more beads to sew around. This means that you are constantly moving the entire (heavy) blanket around as you are sewing and having to move it in all different directions. Also our sewing machine was not up to the task so Jennifer had to borrow her mom’s sewing machine.
Jennifer: “It is really heavy but it only has to be 18-20% of the users body weight. It was really hard to make. I actually broke my machine and tried my moms, but ultimately I used my aunts Husqvarna machine that is so tough it can sew through brick walls. It also took me and my mom to man-handle the blanket for each pass.”
If you are like me and have trouble sleeping due to hurting body parts, or you have been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome then this project might be for you. I’m not 100% sure but it seems to me that this would also be something that you could find to purchase although I have no idea. If I can get her to do it, or if there is a bunch of interest in the comments maybe I can get Jennifer to make a how to tutorial of this project, stay tuned.
Jennifer: “Um, no, I won’t be making another one of these any time soon. Just watch the video below. I will say that I used these plastic pellets from this company. They were absolutely great and had the best prices I could find. They are just a wonderful Christian mom and pop company and I hope you give them a try.”
Want to Just Buy One?
Here are some resources for you to purchase a blanket if you don’t have the time or would rather just get one a bit quicker.
Mosaic Weighted Blankets – Mosaic has resources for purchasing blankets, Do It Yourself (DIY) blankets, and a bunch of resource for other uses of the weighted blanket. I had no idea that it is also a good idea for certain types of autism and sensory disorders. I recommend checking them out if you are wanting some more information on the health benefits.
SensoryGoods.com – A website built around meeting the needs of people with developmental disorders. Products designed for autism, sensory integration, and other needs.
For Further Reading
There are a bunch of articles on Weighted Blankets but I’ve complied a few here for your convince.
dyingandgrief.com – A website that supports family and caregivers
MedicineNet.com – A question/answer forum answering the question “What method did you find most effective in treating your restless leg syndrome?
Here is a nice well made tutorial for how to make your own weighted blanket.