The Best Weighted Blankets and How They Help You Sleep

Find out how weighted blankets soothe anxiety, help you sleep, and which brands to buy from.

By Andrea Babich

You’ve read the research about the correlation between sleep quality and mattress comfort, you’ve purchased the perfect mattress for your needs, and improved your sleep hygiene. But you still can’t sleep. Anxiety, stress, or inexplicable insomnia continue to make counting sheep your only reliable nighttime activity.

While you might be tempted to turn to pharmaceutical solutions, there is an alternative. For people like you, the solution to your sleep woes may not be what you’re lying on, but what you’re lying under. Enter weighted blankets.

Now before you conjure an image of a medieval restraint, let’s look at just what a weighted blanket is.

What is a weighted blanket?

Imagine the satisfying heft and contouring of a bean bag. Now imagine that bean bag big enough to wrap around your shoulders spread across your lap, or cover your entire body. Much like a bean bag, weighted blankets are filled with plastic or glass pellets surrounded by lightly padded outer layers. Separate internal compartments keep the pellets evenly distributed. Weighted blankets can weigh anywhere from 2 to 30 pounds and conform to the shape of your body for a hugging sensation that is at least relaxing if not downright therapeutic.

Source: SensaCalm

Sound like some New Age-y gadget designed by marketers looking to cash in on your desperation for a good night’s sleep? Hold on! There’s actually a long history of therapeutic use of weighted blankets and a body of research that suggests they can improve sleep quality and overall well-being. 

Occupational therapists have long used weighted blankets and vests to relieve anxiety, stress, and hyperactivity as well as to provide sensory integration therapy for people with sensory processing disorder (SPD). According to Theresa May-Benson, occupational therapist with the Spiral Foundation in Newton, MA, people with sensory processing disorders are often hypersensitive to touch or textures to the extent that even clothing becomes an unbearable irritation. Deep pressure touch like that provided by a weighted blanket can help desensitize them to normal tactile experiences.

Deep pressure touch also triggers the production of the “feel-good hormone” serotonin, which calms anxiety, relieves stress, and can even lull them into a sound sleep.

Why now?

Twenty years ago, you might have never heard about weighted blankets, but today a quick Google search of “weighted blankets” yields a plethora of results. Why the uptick in interest? The dramatic increase in the rate of autism is one answer.

Weighted Blankets for Autism

The CDC estimates that 1 in 68 school-aged children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which represents a 30% increase since just 2012. According to the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder, at least 75% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder also have sensory processing disorder and respond well to weighted blankets and vests.

It’s no secret that stress and associated sleep disorders are on the rise. In fact, more than a third of adults in America get less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. As these sleep-deprived people become more aware of the dangers of running a sleep deficit, they are searching for ways to improve their sleep performance. Maybe you’re one of them.

But high rates of autism, sensory processing disorder, and sleep deprivation are not the only reasons why weighted blankets are attracting national attention. People with a host of conditions can benefit from weighted blankets. These conditions include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Menopausal symptoms

How does a weighted blanket work?

The deep pressure touch a weighted blanket provides is called “grounding” and has been shown to reduce nighttime levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol is your “fight or flight” hormone that is produced when you feel threatened or in danger. Even stress can trigger excess cortisol production that can weaken your immune system, leading to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and weight gain. Deep pressure touch also triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin, which help fight stress, anxiety, and depression. The production of serotonin also leads to increased levels of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep and helps regulate the sleep cycle.

Which weighted blanket is right for you?

Occupational therapist, May-Benson cautions that weighted blankets are not for everyone. She recommends people try snuggling under a pile of their own blankets and quilts to see if they like the feeling of extra weight before purchasing a weighted blanket. She also warns against using weighted blankets in children younger than seven unless they are supervised. Also, you should not use a weighted blanket if you suffer from a respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problem or are recovering from surgery. If you’re unsure, consult with your doctor before trying.

Occupational therapists recommend a blanket that is 5-10% of your body weight. Your doctor or occupational therapist can also help you determine the right weight for you or your child. If you tend to sleep hot, choosing a breathable 100% cotton blanket will help keep you comfortable.

Some insurance plans will even cover the cost of a weighted blanket as long as you have a doctor’s prescription.

The Best Weight Blanket Brands

  • Price: from $249
  • Weight: 15 – 25 lbs.
  • Size: 72″ x 48″

The Gravity weighted blanket, offered in space grey and galaxy blue, is definitely a fan favorite and more luxurious than other offerings on the market. This premium-grade, therapeutic weighted blanket is about the size of the typical throw blanket. Filled with fine-grade glass beads that total roughly 10 percent of your body weight and wrapped in a removable micro-fiber plush cover, the Gravity weighted blanket is both comfy and calming. Using a grid design for the stitching, Gravity ensures the weight will be distributed evenly throughout the blanket.

Gravity Blankets is holding a Memorial Day sale for 30% off all products! No code needed. Shop now.

Weighting Comforts Flannel Blanket
  • Price: from $195
  • Weight: 10-25 lbs
  • Size: 42” x 74”

Weighting Comforts offers a variety of fabrics to suit your temperature and sensory preferences. They provide you with a helpful chart that explains what weight is right for your body. What makes Weighting Comforts stand out is their commitment to their customers and their community. The blankets are sewn by international refugees who were resettled in the US. Not to mention Weighting Comforts customers rave over their unparalleled customer service. They will go out of their way to ensure your blanket is the right fit for you. If you don’t love your Weighting Comforts blanket, you can return it within 30 days of receiving it for a full refund.

Mosaic: Lunar Grey Blanket
  • Price: from $125
  • Weight: 2 to 30 lbs
  • Size: various

Mosaic offers so many fabric colors and patterns, you’ll have no problem finding the one for you. Styles for adults, young adults, and children are available and blankets are fully customizable for pattern, weight, and size. Their website includes a handy weight chart that uses your body weight to determine the recommended weight of your blanket. Custom blankets usually ship within 1-2 business days. If you don’t love your Mosaic blanket, you can return it within 5 days of receiving it in its original packaging. You’ll get a refund of the purchase price, minus a 10% restocking fee.

  • Price: from $99
  • Weight: Custom weight based on user’s weight
  • Size: Custom sizes based on the user’s body type (anywhere from small to queen size)

The SensaCalm weighted blanket is the best customizable option on the market. Customization is extremely important in a weighted blanket, as people come in all shapes and sizes. Not to mention, everyone uses weighted blankets for different reasons.

SensaCalm weighted blankets come in dozens of solid colors, as well as patterns. They also offer waterproof and dual-sided cuddle options, depending on your needs and preferences. Once you pick your fabric, you can customize your weighted blanket to your weight and height. You can also opt for no polyfill, also known as the stuffing in the blanket. Once your blanket arrives, you’ll have 30 days to return.

  • Price: $129
  • Weight: 15 – 25 lbs.
  • Size: 48” x 78”

Made of breathable cotton, extra-plush minky, and filled with glass beads, the My Calm weighted blanket is a great option for comfort and health benefits. One huge differentiator of the Calm Blanket is its thickness—it is much thinner than most weighted blankets sold online. Thickness is important when it comes to storing the blanket as most a bulky and hard to store away. The My Calm Blanket is machine washable, making care and maintenance a breeze.

 

  • Price: from $70
  • Weight: 4 – 24 lbs.
  • Size: various

Twenty years ago, Magic Blanket founder Keith Zivalich got the idea for weighted blankets from the relaxing hug of his daughter’s Beanie Baby lizard. He’s been making custom-made Magic Blankets ever since. Choose whatever size, fabric, color, and the weight you want. You can use this chart to help you pick the right blanket for your size. Your blanket will be available for free shipping in five days. And if you don’t love it, you can send any non-custom blanket back for a refund (minus return shipping fees) within 10 days of receiving the blanket.

  • Price: from $57
  • Weight: 3 to 25 lbs.
  • Size: various

Sensory Goods is a family-owned company started by parents of two children with autism. All blankets are custom-made in the USA with over 1600 color and patterns to choose from. You can also choose between two fillings: glass beads or plastic beads. All orders are shipped the next business day after ordering. If you don’t love your blanket, you can return it for a full refund within 30 days of receiving it.


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