Our lives are full of pressures that can place us in physical and mental states of fight or flight. Sometimes this state of alarm or anxiety can feel chronic and lead to losing life’s pleasures, making us feel exhausted. The antidote to this state of course is a moment of calm. Just a moment – we don’t need to be calm all the time, sometimes we really do need to fight or flee. But we need to know when those times are real and not imaginary, and for that we need to have an anchor in an interior state of calm.
In our introduction to life, when we were infants, our mother used three powerful sources to calm us when we were lying in a cot alone, not knowing where we were, and screaming with fear or discomfort.
She held us closely, would rock gently, and feed us. We have used these three powerhouses of calming in different ways throughout our lives, usually without any thought. Now we have technical names for these powerhouses derived from decades of research into physiology and anatomy.
- We use our oral motor – our chewing muscles – to calm us. For example, even when we have to have a very difficult conversation with someone we instinctively will share something to eat or drink to help maintain trust throughout the encounter.
- We use our vestibular sense – our ability to balance, to know which direction we are facing – to calm us. We remember the pure joy we experienced as children when we were playing on swings, rolling down hills, and spinning around. As adults we Zumba, rumba and tango to let release the stress of daily pressures.
- And finally we use our proprioceptive sense – the feeling of pressure on our skin or resistance against our joints and muscles – to calm us.
- This can come from a hug around the shoulders from someone we trust, a much-needed massage, a great workout at the gym. We use all of these powerhouses of calming throughout our lives in ways appropriate to our personal situation. I mean, you’d never catch me in Zumba mode – but chewing on chocolate, sure, why not? But I’d like to focus on the most powerful and most adaptable of these powerhouses of calming – proprioception, and how this relates to a ‘science of Ibu‘.
One aspect of proprioception, pressure against the skin, sends powerful neurological signals to the entire body that tells us where we are in space¹. Imagine for a moment going into a totally dark room not knowing where the light switch was, whether or not there was a step up or down or if there was any furniture. That is an anxious moment where the only thing telling you where you are is the pressure of your feet on the floor, but what you need is a little more information than that. But the minute you extend your arm and your fingers touch a wall you start to feel a little safer and you can now move to greater safety. That’s the power of pressure, gentle pressure, on our skin.
As infants our mother swaddled us in cloth so that we’d have that feeling of safety that comes from knowing where we are.
People in Indonesia use the word ‘Ibu’ to refer to mother, and Ibu is a beautiful name to describe the calming power of this patented weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets have been used for decades by occupational therapists to help youngsters achieve a neurologically optimal state for learning new tasks. They found that helping children experience a state of calm appropriate to the learning situation evoked new and adaptive behaviours. As a powerhouse of calming, applying the right amount of pressure against the skin can promote healthier responses², and with the Ibu weighted blanket we can evoke those responses in sensible, appropriate ways that can be tailored to our unique needs.
One example that is most frequently used by adults is using a heavy blanket to help induce sleep at night, or a calm moment at the end of a stressful day. We’ll see how to use it for this purpose shortly.
Not everyone likes the sensation of pressure on the skin, however; our sensory preferences are as different as we are to the person next to us, and our preferences can change across the life span.
For those who do respond well to pressure against the skin, our tolerance for how much weight we like to feel is also variable. The ideal weighted blanket, for those who do like the sensation, has to be adaptable to our preferences and situations.
So what does empirical research tell us about how heavy a weighted blanket needs to be to induce this state of calm? Tina Champagne, an occupational therapist in Massachusetts and leader in the study of weighted modalities to enhance performance, advises that a weighted blanket of 10 ‐ 12% of total body weight should be the optimal starting point³. So a person weighing 73 kgs (160 lbs) might start with a blanket weighing about 8 kgs, draped across the chest or over the shoulders if sitting, or over the length of the body if lying, and decreasing or increasing the weight to individual preferences and responses. There are two critical responses to be aware of in using a weighted blanket, though: if the weight makes breathing difficult or if it is not readily or easily removable by the user, it weighs too much.
The Ibu weighted blanket meets these basic safety requirements in that it has a patented construction to keep weight evenly distributed across its surface while still being modifiable for different weight requirements and tactile preferences.
But apart from these technical considerations there is a final very important quality to point out about using this weighted blanket, that is different from so many of the activities we do to help us calm down. That is, we can pay attention to how it feels – too light? too heavy? How it makes us feel – really good? a little better? Just putting the blanket on our body helps us put our attention on how we are feeling.
That simple act of being mindful of ourselves, for just that moment, is another powerhouse of calming. But I’m starting to get off topic…
1 Blakeslee, S., Blakeslee, M. (2007), The Body has a Mind of Its Own, Random House New York. 219 pages
2 Grandin, T. (1992). Calming effects of deep pressure in patients with autistic disorder, college students, and animals. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 2, 63-‐72.
3 Champagne, T, Mullen, B, Dickson, D (2007). Exploring the safety & effectiveness of the use of weighted blankets with adult populations. Presentation at the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Annual Conference (2007) (Modified version) accessed at: http://www.ot-‐ innovations.com/images/stories/PDF_Files/aota2007weighted_blanket_web_final_607.pdf
Whatever your requirements, weighted blankets are known to stimulate pressure receptors deep in the skin. They are a safe, effective way to induce a calming, relaxed response.
New Zealand-based research findings are consistent with those in other countries that people who use weighted blankets and weighted pads find that they feel safer, more comfortable and secure, and sleep better. Weighted blankets are used by people of all ages.
If you suffer from any respiratory problems – please consult your health professional before using a weighted blanket.
THE IBU SAKU WEIGHTED BLANKET
The Ibu Saku weighted blankets are blankets that are made to fit any size bed. Single, King Single, Queen, King and Super King.
Constructed in one piece with pockets that allow you the ability to place the weight exactly where you want it. They dome up to keep the weight in place and gives you the ability to provide comfort for your family’s needs from adolescence to adulthood. You can choose which cover you would like from our range of fabric.
Using an ibu Blanket
Most of the time people wish to know if a Weighted Blanket will work for them.
What weight is required and how to use it.
What we have found to be very helpful and has worked for many people is the following rule of thumb
STEP 1. How to choose the right weight for you.
- Weigh yourself first – this is so we can identify the correct starting weight for you.
- Calculate 10% of your body weight as this seems to be where most people start.
- iBu is made in one section with empty pockets to allow you to add the weighted sacks designed specifically for the iBu Saku.
- Each weighted sack weighs 125gm.
- The iBu Saku can then be customised to suit your personal needs by placing the weight where you feel you need it to make you feel comfortable, safe and secure.
STEP 2. Customise your iBu
- Decide what you want to use your blanket for e.g. in the car; on the couch; in your bed
- Choose the ‘feel’ of the fabric that you want
- – Faux Fur Finish (Triple FX) for Luxury
- – 100% Crisp Cool Cotton
- – Velvet Finish
- – Themed 100% cotton, perfect for kids e.g. Roald Dahl – Fantastic Mr Fox etc
STEP 3. How to use your iBu Saku either on the couch or in the bedroom…
- Sit/lie down
- Place the iBu Saku over you
- Deep breathe and relax
- That’s it
We do not tell people how they are going to feel when they use their iBu, everyone has a different experience. Whatever your experience – good or indifferent – we would like to hear from you.
If you find that after a while the iBu Saku is not heavy enough – you can always order more weight sacks
OR If you find that the iBu Saku is too heavy – remove some weight sacks.
The iBu Saku is versatile enough to be used in different ways.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know whether the Ibu is right for me
A: If you have a respiratory condition – it is advisable to consult your Health Practitioner before you use any weighted product. However the Ibu Saku allows you to place the weight where you want it and can be customised away from your respiratory system.
Q: What weight would I require
A: 10% of your body weight is the rule of thumb.
Q: Can I add more weight or do I have to buy another blanket?
A: The Ibu allows you freedom of choice because its constructed in one section filled with pockets. It allows you to custom make your own blanket by adding the weighted sacks to give you the required weight needed. You wont have to buy another blanket – you can add or subtract weight as is needed.
Q: Can I wash my Ibu Saku if it becomes soiled? A: Yes. Download your Washing Instructions by clicking on this link: Washing and Care Instructions – Ibu Saku
NB: Manufacturers note on natural fibres:
Cotton, while not an animal fabric, is a natural one and can therefore present certain challenges when trying to prevent shrinkage. Cotton shrinks because of the tension that is applied to its yarn and fabrics during the construction of the clothing. The tension is released by heat from the washer, dryer, steam and even sunlight, which causes the fabric to be reduced to its natural size. This is why most cotton clothing will shrink during its first washing. The best way to avoid shrinkage is to wash them by hand or to use cold water and the delicate cycle of your washing machine. Ideally, products that are made of natural fibres should never see the inside of your dryer. If you must use the dryer for your cottons, use the lowest heat setting possible.
We have designed the iBu Saku for your comfort. We also offer iBu Weighted lap and shoulder pads. Visit the BUY page to see the range of products available.
We offer a wide range of material from 100% white cotton to faux fur covers for luxurious use.
We are so comfortable with our product that we offer a 60 day money back guarantee and 12 month manufacturing guarantee.
Contact us for your own personalised Ibu Comfort Blanket. They are entirely washable and are weight stable, providing gentle, even pressure that wont shift around or slip off whilst you sleep.
If you have any other questions on this unique product please contact us
What clients say
This is what some of our clients have told us how and why they use their Weighted Blanket.
Sigrid Mann, Manager, Facilities, Fujitsu Australia Limited – 2nd October 2012
I just wanted to let you know how incredibly successful the Ibu Comfort Pad has been – I am completely astounded!
My 16-year-old daughter tends to set herself extremely high academic targets to achieve and puts an incredible amount of pressure on herself to achieve those targets. This is most apparent around exam time. For those few months she is in a constant state of anxiety, unable to sleep at night and working herself up in a panic until she is physically sick. I have tried various techniques at night with her to try to get her to a calm state for sleep… herbal teas, yoga exercises, meditation, and finally wine for me once I’ve given up!
The idea of the pad appealed – to be honest I was ready to give anything a try. I gave it to her about a month before her exams were to start. She was fairly sceptical however she lay down on my bed in the afternoon and I tucked it around her shoulders. I sat next to her chatting away until I realised I was getting no response… within 5 minutes she was sound asleep. She has not slept without it since.
She has just completed her most successful exam period ever. Staying asleep has never been an issue for her (she’s a teenager – need I say more!) however in the past she would lie tossing and turning for hours, ultimately ending up in tears. She is now sound asleep within 15 minutes – the Ibu Comfort Pad has just had the most incredibly calming effect on her at night.
If I had known how successful it was going to be I would have trialled one earlier… it has been worth every cent of postage to Australia.
Thank you so much – a great success.
Brad Morris, Vodafone Warriors Strength Coach and Sport Scientist, offered the weighted blanket to player, Suaia Matagi. Here is his testimonial:
My name is Suaia Matagi – and I play Rugby League professionally for the New Zealand Warriors. Several months ago I was invited to try the new Ibu weighted blanket. I had been having difficulty relaxing and sleeping soundly. Getting good sleep, so you can give the game your all on game day, is a big deal when you play competition Rugby League.
The Ibu enabled me to relax straight away. Once the blanket was in place I found I could get to sleep more easily and slept for much longer than I used to. I also felt more refreshed when I woke up in the morning.
I had never heard of weighted blankets until then. Now I use the Ibu every night, and would not sleep without it. One night I tried sleeping without it to see if it really did make a difference. I couldn’t sleep at all.
The weight is just right though I haven’t tried it in summer yet.
The only downside to the Ibu I used was that was not long enough, so my feet poked out the bottom, and it’ was not wide enough to cover me and my wife together, but I still sleep under it every night. However with the Ibu I am told that you can increase its length and width and it can be custom made to suit my requirements.
After using the Ibu for just a few days it had an impact on my performance. Before, I was struggling to get to sleep because of the stress, and I was waking up not refreshed and still tired. The lbu changed everything. Now I’m able sleep better, relax more deeply and my performance has benefited greatly.
Caroline Bell-Booth, Director
Cliff Harvey ND, Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, Mind-Body Therapist
My patients have experienced greater feelings of safety and security during their mind-body therapy sessions along with reduced anxiety as a result of using the Ibu Comfort Blanket. I have found the blanket to be a valuable tool for encouraging an improved state of calm and relaxation during clinical sessions. Cliff Harvey
Mental Health patient, [name withheld], Queensland
I was starting to crash. I was afraid this episode was going to cost me my job or even put me in hospital. A co-worker introduced me to one of these weighted blankets, so I took it home and crawled under it that night ready for another night of being wide awake. But I slept the night through. And every next night for the next few weeks. What this gave me was enough sleep to handle my situation without meds, without any drama. I’m only beginning to understand how helpful this approach is to managing anxiety. What a surprise. What a blanket!
Nikki’s review May 9th 2016 (A 15 year old school boy who is in the Rowing 8 for his school)
Nikki ordered the Ibu Saku and we made it in Queen size – he chose his colours and design.
Here is Nikki’s thoughts ” I enjoy my blanket it’s soft and breathable. The design is what I asked for, I slept deeper and for longer (mum has trouble waking me up) Thanks Felise”
Later in the year Nikki would like a smaller one for when he is traveling.
Shena Christian (Mum)”
Félise du Chateau never expected to make therapeutic weighted blankets. She was a very cool, creative designer, intent on creating a range of exclusive throws and bed-linen. But when her range of felted throws proved too expensive and heavy for the New Zealand market, a whole new world opened up.
“I met an Italian man who was a discerning gift buyer,” she says. “His parents loved my throws. They recognised the textures of the material used, the classiness of the workmanship. And he told me not to give up.” But she was certainly disheartened. “I decided to give away the 10 throws I’d made as Christmas presents to my family, and took the last one to Australia as a gift for my sister. She put it in the guest bedroom.”
A few weeks later her sister’s first guest, Mike Wilson, (a registered nurse and member of the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing) came out of the bed room. “Where oh where,” he said. “Where did you get this throw from?”
It turned out that Wilson had a damaged back that gave him problems both sleeping and walking. Snuggling under the heavy throw had given him the best night’s sleep he’d had in months, and when he woke up pain-free and rested he was excited. “I know your sister wants to be in the luxury market,” he said. “But I suggest she goes into weighted blankets for the therapeutic and mental health markets.”
This was an entirely different concept for Félise, but she could see what Wilson was getting at. “The heaviness of my throws does make people feel calm and cocooned,” she says. “Everybody suffers distress or restlessness at some time. I’m a nurturer, I like people to feel good when they wrap themselves up in my throws.”
What Felise didn’t realise at first, was why her heavy throws worked on the people who slept under them and how they had such a transformative effect. “And then I did a bit of reading and looked at the literature that Mike suggested.”
Felise discovered that the concept of weighted blankets had been used for decades to soothe and “bring down and relax” distressed and over-aroused people as well as help those with muscular and skeletal problems. She also loved the fact that the technique was drug-free, worked for sports people and was useful for ordinary people too.
There was definitely a place for blankets that doubled as beautiful throws rather than the hospital issue version that was available. “I worked out all the negatives, such as calling the blankets ‘a sensory modality’ and the fact that the original blankets that were used in New Zealand hospitals were filled with sand which felt like kitty litter,” she says.
“ My thought was, why not make these blankets from fabrics that compliment your décor and take the whole idea of weighted blankets out of the mental illness area? Soothing, refreshing sleep, which the Ibu provides, is now regarded by health experts as one of the cornerstones necessary, along with diet and exercise, that help us all achieve optimal health – both physical and mental. And let’s face it there are plenty of people who aren’t mentally ill but can do with the comfort and support of a weighted blanket.
Within weeks Félise had designed her own, Félise du Chateau Ibu blankets. Made in 3kg oblong strips that clip together to form 3kg, 6, 9, 12 and 15kg blankets, they come apart to suit everyone from children to professional rugby league players, (see Suaia Matagi’s testimonial).
If you’re 60 kgs you use two, if you’re 140kgs you need four or five strips clipped together. Ibu blankets come in softest, finest cotton sewn into small squares, very like a down blanket, except the squares are filled with anti-bacterial polypropylene pellets so they stay evenly weighted and in place, all night long. Since then the iBu Saku has been developed and is the more widely used Weighted Blanket because it can be made to fit different sizes of beds.
But it’s their covers that make these weighted blankets a joy to own. Exquisitely crafted, and covered with the most soothing, soft material Félise can find, they are already doing their job in the elegant bedrooms of Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney. “The first step to recovery is touch, that’s what works for me,” says Felise. “Every one of my kids (including international cricketer André Adams) loves these blankets because they’re so soft, yet so firm.
“I can see this product helping, it almost spoons you,” she says. “Ibu blankets give you that “feel-good” feeling – have a proven therapeutic effect as well, and the Malay word Ibu means “Mother”. What more can I say?
About the Designer
Félise’s nurturing instincts go back to when she was a child of 10 in Guyana, South America and was sent with her sister to live in the country with her mother’s friend to escape the city. Tension was rising. The city was under curfew. Children, especially, were at risk.
“My mother worked and came when she could, but I had to look after my sister and the other kids. Our environment was filled with things that could endanger your life if you weren’t careful. My instinct to look after them and save them from danger was developed early and has never left me.”
Even in secure New Zealand, where I have lived for 40 years, these nurturing tendencies still bubble to the surface.”
My whole life has been spent learning about the best ways to look after my own body through those natural means that were all that was available when I was a child. It just made sense to me to ‘live healthily’ through food, exercise and above all touch – which is where the Ibu fits in.”