DIY Lycra Compression Bed Sheets for Deep Pressure Input

A few weeks ago, someone commented asking if I could do a blog post on our bedtime routine. I kind of half laughed about it because that is a non-existent thing in our house. What works for a week or a month, won't work the next, and it's a constant changing battle in our home. 

compression bed sheets

Em has always been an awful sleeper, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that she has middle interhemispheric variant holoprosencephaly. Which is the long way of saying that she has several brain malformations and while she is certainly a lot more high functioning than we ever thought she would be, she does have several "problems" one of them being sleep related. She has a lot of sensory issues when she is in bed. Mostly that right when she falls asleep, because she has low muscle tone, she constantly feels like she is falling, and so she needs some extra weight or pressure to help her feel grounded and safe. 

Last year for her birthday I sewed her a weighted blanket to help solve the problem, and it worked really well for a long time, but she's grown quite a bit over the last year, and the old blanket is now too small. She would kick the blanket off of her several times a night, and Derek and I were literally having to go in there every 30 minutes through the night to get the blanket back on her. If you can imagine, this was the worst thing ever. 

I was planning on sewing her a new blanket for her birthday, but then my friends mom told me she was already in the works of making it, so I needed to find a solution to get us through until August. My friend Nikki has a son with autism, and he and Em  have a lot of similar sensory problems, and so she shares brilliant ideas with me every now and then that I really appreciate. Before we'd made Em's first sensory blanket, she told me about Lycra sensory sheets that basically fit over the bed like a spandex sheet, and the child sleeps between the spandex and the mattress, and it kind of straps them in and has the same pressure effect as the blanket. I didn't love the idea last year just because Em was so immobile, and I worried about her feeling stuck, or trapped, and since she wasn't independently moving a lot, I just didn't love the idea. 

But now Em is so much more mobile, and so much stronger, that I thought it could be a good time to try it out.  I was looking into buying them, but they were all about $30-$40 from what I could find, and I didn't want to shell out that much money for something that has the potential to not work, so I went to Hobby Lobby, spent $5 on some stretchy fabric, and then took it home to make the sheet. Good news: Em is fully capable of getting out of it on her own, and she loved it and has slept through the night the last four nights! 

If you have a child, or know of someone who could benefit from this, here is a super easy (really, so easy) tutorial on how to make a compression bed sheet for your child. 

Fabric (enough to fit the bed)
Sewing Machine

Measure the top of your mattress. You'll need just the length and the width. You'll then want to multiply that by two (a piece for the top, and a piece for the bottom). By not measuring the thickness of the mattress, you're ensuring the fabric will be tight enough when stretched over the mattress. 

Head to the fabric store and get your fabric. Lycra is ideal, but Hobby Lobby didn't have any when I went, and so I just went with a thick stretchy blend that they had that felt durable. I did mine on a crib size mattress and 1 1/2 yards was the perfect amount. 

I then laid the fabric out on my table and folded it in half (right sides together). I pinned the long open seam shut, and then pinned the bottom edge shut as well. 

Using a zig-zag stich, I sewed together the two pinned sides, and then I turned the sheet right side out. 

At this point it just looks like a big stretchy sleeping bag. Congratulations, you've succeeded.

Then I simply headed up stairs, placed the new sheet on top of the mattress, and put it back in the bed. 

Have your child try it out to make sure it's not too tight and is comfortable, and then get yourself a full night sleep!


  1. (Also I really appreciate that you prioritized your child's ability to be able to get out independently if needed.)

  2. really awesome cuteness on her face !!

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