An Interview with the Inventor of the Weighted Blanket
It’s a really nice meditation enhancement, great for anxiety…it grounds you in a way that is almost “indescribable.”Beth Shaw.
Keith Zivalich, the inventor of the weighted blanket was interviewed by Beth Shaw, the founder of Yogafit. Yogafit is the world’s largest yoga training school, established in 1994. That wasn’t the only thing that was established in the 90’s, the new cult trend on everyone’s wishlist, the weighted blanket, was also a 90’s baby. The weighted blanket, originally known as a “beanie blanket” was first developed in 1997 by father of three, Keith Zivalich. You can find the full interview by searching “Yogafit” on Spotify and other podcast platforms.
The interview begins with Beth Shaw introducing her podcast series, in which she speaks with leading experts in health, wellness, biohacking and more. This episode, which aired on January 27, 2020, she speaks to Keith about what inspired him to invent the weighted blanket. She opens by proclaiming her love for her Magic Weighted Blanket, which she says that she uses all of the time. When asked about how he came up with the weighted blanket, Zivalich tells us about how he was inspired to create this heavy blanket that molds to the body after his daughter put a beanie baby on his shoulder as they were driving.
I noticed how the little beanie baby was hugging my shoulder and was staying put right there as I drove. The first thing that came to my mind was, what if you had a blanket that was full with these little beads? And the whole blanket would feel like it was hugging you.Keith Zivalich
Intrigued by this idea, he and his wife Lynda, who is an avid sewer, created a few prototypes. They decided to bring it over to some neighbors with children to get their honest feedback. They were disheartened when the neighbors came back and said, “Its interesting but why would we put a heavy blanket on somebody”. It was a bit of a setback, Zivalich said, but he and his wife weren’t ready to give up so quickly. However, they didn’t realize just how revolutionary their product was until a friend of the family, who happened to be a Special Needs teacher, took one of the prototypes to her class, hoping that it would help the children calm down. And boy did it work. Amazed by the weighted blanket, she went back to the Zivalich’s home that very night and said, “Keith we need more of these..we need lots more.”
When the weight was on a child who had ASD or sensory processing disorder it immediately calmed them down, made them feel less need to be mobile, they felt their body in space while they were under the blanket and it had a natural calming affect.Keith Zivalich
Zivalich slowly introduced his new product to the special needs community and was both surprised and delighted by the positive reception it received. Then he started to hear from parents who had gotten one for their kids, only to find that they wanted one for themselves. Turns out, a weighted blanket doesn’t just help those with sensory processing disorders, but also people just feeling stressed and anxious from their everyday lives. It was at this point that the formerly niche product really started to go mainstream. In 2014, Forbes was the first major publication to write an article about Zivalich’s Magic Blanket, but other major publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Oz Magazine, and many others were quick to write their own pieces on the new trend.
Shaw goes on to say she started to blog about weighted blankets in 2016 after purchasing both the standard 16 pound blanket as well as the lighter summer weight. Shaw then tells a story about her childhood anxiety and how she used to cover herself with tarps, canvases and other blanket-like objects to create a heavy weight while she slept. As it turns out, “hugging” yourself with a heavy blanket helps you to feel secure, allowing the body to calm down.
The need to feel the pressure of a hug is instinctual for humans. Weighted blankets are a simple and easy way to get that hugging sensation that we crave so much whenever we need it. Unfortunately, even after 21 years and millions of weighted blankets sold across the globe, there still hasn’t been much scientific research done into weighted blankets, so most of what we know about how and why they work is anecdotal. However, there have been studies done on Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT), a concept similar to that used by weighted blankets.
As his blankets first began to grow in popularity, Zivalich kept hearing that using his weighted blankets made people feel like they were getting a hug or even a massage, both of which are both forms of DPT. The reason that DPT works is because our bodies have two “modes”, a calm, relaxed mode and the famous “fight or flight” mode. Also known as Parasympathetic nervous system (PSN) and the sympathetic nervous.
Deep pressure therapy is a proven scientific technique to get your body into the PSN system mode that helps you rest and find instant calm. Since weighted blankets operate on the same concept, it’s no wonder that they’ve proven to be the ideal tool for relaxation, even for people with sensory processing disorders. To try it for yourself, you can purchase your Magic Weighted Blanket at www.magicweightedblanket.com.