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'Coronasomnia' Irish entrepreneur's innovative weighted blanket helping stressed out people get shut-eye

Emer was inspired after making a weighted lap pad for a young autistic child she worked with to help them sit still in school.

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Emer Flannery with one of her weighted blankets

Emer Flannery with one of her weighted blankets

Emer Flannery with one of her weighted blankets

A young Irish entrepreneur revealed she's been inundated with "heart-wrenching" calls for help from stress-ridden people unable to sleep amid the ongoing pandemic.

Emer Flannery (31), from Belmullet in Mayo, runs her own business Kocoono selling weighted blankets to help alleviate stress, anxiety, insomnia and other sleep-related disorders.

With a background in psychology and working with children with special needs, Emer has always had a creative flair, having learned sewing and dressmaking from her talented mum Maureen.

She was inspired after making a weighted lap pad for a young autistic child she worked with to help them sit still in school.

Emer made her own weighted blanket and found it a huge help for relaxation and sleep.

She then took the brave step of launching Kocoono via the crowdfunding site Kickstarter in October 2019.

And the business has gone from strength to strength despite the current challenging climate.

A recent report from the National Institutes of Health highlighted how insomnia had increased 37% since the Covid-19 pandemic peak, leading some to dub the phenomenon "coronasomnia".

Emer told the Sunday World how her customers are struggling to get quality shut-eye or are wracked by anxiety due to Covid.

Many feel lonely due to the social restrictions while others are going through bereavements.

Emer revealed: "We have had the most heart-wrenching phone calls from people dealing with all sorts of emotional, mental and physical trauma over the past year."

Others told how they wanted to buy a blanket for a family member as they were unable to give their relatives the usual physical support of a hug or comforting presence.

Emer stated: "At Christmas time I would say 70% of our customers were buying a Kocoono as a gift for a loved one who they felt would benefit from an embrace, now we have many people reaching us to buy a Kocoono as a gift to themselves."

She is also keen to give back, with Kocoono holding a fundraiser for Pieta House whereby customers can make a donation at the checkout and the company will match it.

A total of €1,200 has been raised to date. "It's lovely to be able to do something like that," Emer added.

More information can be found at kocoono.com.

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