Have you heard about weighted blankets? In some circles, they are all the rage right now. People claim that they calm anxiety, help people with ADHD, autism, or sensory processing disorders, calm tantrums in children, and more. But is this true, or is it another old wives’ tale? If you’re wondering if a weighted blanket might help you sleep better, here’s everything you need to know about them to make an informed decision about whether they might work for you.
What are Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets are blankets that are filled with sand or some other heavy substance. Handmade versions usually have the weighting substance sewn into little pockets or pouches, while mass-produced weighted blankets have other methods for keeping the weighted substance evenly distributed throughout the blanket.
These blankets are made to be heavier than regular blankets. It is this weight that people claim makes them feel better, feels like a hug, calms them, and more! They usually weigh somewhere between 4 and 30 pounds, and the weight of blanket you buy depends on the size and weight of the person using it.
Do Weighted Blankets Really Help You Sleep Better?
The short answer is that yes, they do. People who use weighted blankets have more serotonin in their bodies when they sleep under the blanket than they do when they don’t. Serotonin helps facilitate rest and sleepiness in several ways, not least of which is that it helps produce melatonin. This chemical is directly connected to helping you fall asleep.
Weighted blankets also calm the central nervous system (CNS). They do this by simulating deep pressure touch (DPT). This therapy uses firm pressure from the hands to help people with serious anxiety and stress to relax, and the blanket produces the same effects. Basically, the pressure calms the physical body so that it is not having hyped-up responses to stress anymore. When people can let this kind of stress go, they sleep better.
Even spending a very short time with a weighted blanket can significantly reduce anxiety. This means that you don’t necessarily have to sleep under the blanket all night long to reap its benefits. Instead, you can curl up with it on the couch before you go to sleep or push it off you before you fall all the way asleep.
Another study used weighted blankets on dental patients with anxiety about their treatment. Using the blankets actually caused physical changes in the patients’ CNS, which helped them to feel calmer during their dental work. If it can work at the dentist, it can certainly work in your house!
All of this culminates in a study showing that weighted blankets reduce insomnia. People who slept under a weighted blanket slept more, and they also moved around less. This means that their sleep was less disrupted and that they found it easier to settle into sleep. The subjects agreed with the findings of the study, reporting that they fell asleep easier and faster when they used the blanket and that they felt better in the morning after having used it.
If you struggle with insomnia, especially but not necessarily insomnia that stems from anxiety, then you might be the perfect candidate for a weighted blanket! You’ll never know, though, until you try one.
Who Benefits From a Weighted Blanket?
Anyone who suffers from anxiety or insomnia should benefit from using a weighted blanket. In addition, children and adults who have ADHD, autism or a related disorder, or sensory processing problems often find the blankets especially useful, though not always for sleep.
As long as the blanket doesn’t make you feel claustrophobic, you should be able to benefit from one. Even if you already sleep well, if you’re interested in using a weighted blanket, there’s no reason not to try one. After all, you may find that you sleep even better or that you feel calmer when you are upset, even if you aren’t trying to sleep.
It’s a great idea to just keep a weighted blanket around. We all have those nights when we just can’t sleep, when some crazy thought or situation is causing enough anxiety and rumination that we can’t close our eyes. On nights like that, a weighted blanket could help even the best sleeper. And we all get emotionally upset, sometimes, too. Weighted blankets could help all of us calm down and feel safe and secure, even when the outside world is upsetting.
So anyone could benefit from the use of a weighted blanket. While insomniacs or those who suffer from anxiety will find them the most useful for sleeping, I don’t think there’s a person out there who wouldn’t find some benefit from one of these blankets.
How Heavy Should a Weighted Blanket Be?
The weight of your weighted blanket will be largely determined by your body weight. Most manufacturers and makers of these blankets say that adults should use a blanket that is 5-10% of their body weight. You may want to try several blankets to find one that feels like a hug and not like it is suffocating you.
For children, it’s very important to get a blanket that is not too heavy. While it might feel fine, or even good, on the child while he or she is awake and falling to sleep, it may impair breathing overnight. The rule of thumb is that a child should use a blanket that is 10% of their body weight, plus 1-2 pounds. It can also help to have an adult remove the blanket from the child once the child falls asleep. That way, the child can reap the blanket’s benefits without suffering any negative consequences from using it.
If you have any doubts about the proper weight of a blanket for you or a child, contact a doctor or an occupational therapist. They should know what weights are safe and will still offer all of the therapeutic benefits that you’re looking for.
Which Weighted Blankets are the Best?
We recommend several weighted blankets.
This weighted blanket comes in many sizes, from 5 pounds to 25 pounds. Each size is a different price. The one linked to here is 20 pounds and is designed for adults between 180 and 200 pounds. The blanket comes without a removable cover, which you can buy separately, and is a great size for using on king and queen beds. Customers love this blanket, saying that it has helped them treat everything from Restless Legs Syndrome to Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy. On the emotional side, they have successfully used it to help treat sleep disorders in people with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and more.
This 12 pound weighted blanket is great for larger children and adults. It offers technology designed not only to weight the blanket but to keep the weight evenly distributed all night long, no matter how much the sleeper moves. While the blanket only comes in one size, the manufacturer suggests using part of it or even doubling it if you don’t want as much weight. Customers love the minky feel to the blanket and have successfully used it to treat similar ailments to the ones listed above. The only downside to this blanket is that it sometimes gets separated from the cover which can make it harder to use.
This is another blanket that comes in multiple sizes and price points, from 12 pounds and $119 to the one listed here, at 20 pounds. You have your choices of colors, too, so you can make it match any bedroom. This blanket is sewn into small squares, with non-toxic pellets in each square, and you can buy a duvet cover for the blanket if you so desire. Customers love this blanket for treating all of their needs, and many claim significantly better sleep when they use it. The only downside is that the blanket can begin to leak pellets after sustained use.
YnM Weighted Blanket – $139.90
This blanket also comes in many sizes and weights, from 5 pounds to 25 pounds, with each size a different price. You can choose from several different patterns and colors, for both the blanket and a duvet cover for it. The blanket linked to here is 15 pounds and is the right size for use on a queen bed. Customers adore the way this blanket helps them sleep better, though some say that it holds a lot of heat. It does not seem to leak pellets, though. Some customers say they have never slept better than they do with this blanket.
If you’d like to try a weighted blanket, these are all great choices. Choose the one that fits your bed and your budget, and that is the right weight for you. If you’re sharing a bed with a partner, find one that will work for them, too. Hopefully, you’ll soon be having some of the best sleep of your life.