7 Benefits of Weighted Blankets, Explained by Sleep Specialists
Between insomnia, nightmares and waking up with anxiety, we haven’t exactly been getting quality sleep over the past few weeks. So, at this point, we’re willing to try anything to get some improved shut eye. Sure, there are herbal teas, eye masks and white noise machines, but a weighted blanket seems to be the most promising addition to any effective bedtime routine. Before we invest in one, we decided to turn to a couple of sleep specialists (and a handful of studies) to see if the hype is real.
But first, what is a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets are just like your favorite cozy throw, but with heavy pockets that create a soothing amount of pressure. Most get their heft (which can range from five to 30 pounds) from tiny pellets that are sewn into each pocket, ensuring that the weight is evenly distributed. Others, like sustainable brand Bearaby’s get their weight from layer upon layer of organic cotton. The idea is that the blanket’s pressure will create a soothing (but not suffocating!) effect, which some users liken to being hugged all night.
What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
Your mom says her weighted blanket has totally eradicated her insomnia, your best friend swears hers is the reason she actually wakes up feeling rested these days and Carol down the street says her son is finally sleeping through the night. But could this really all be because of a heavy blanket? We were skeptical, so we turned to the experts. Here are seven benefits of weighted blankets, according to sleep specialists.
1. Decreased anxietyAnyone who experiences anxiety knows it can be both physical and psychological. And calming the body makes it easier to calm the mind, explains Dr. Whitney Roban, Ph.D., family, educational and corporate sleep specialist at Solve Our Sleep. “Weighted blankets provide deep-touch pressure to the body, which slows down the nervous system and makes a person feel more grounded and secure,” she says. Considering that anxiety and stress are often the root of sleep problems, snoozing under a weighted blanket every night may promote better sleep.
2. Helps insomnia
In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders, participants with insomnia slept more calmly and spent less time awake in the middle of the night than when they used their regular bedding. They also subjectively believed that the blankets provided them with a better quality sleep. But it’s important to remember that this won’t necessarily be the outcome for everyone who suffers from insomnia, especially since this sleep disorder has a number of different classifications. “Given the mixed evidence, I encourage patients to try [a weighted blanket], but with the realization that it may not work,” says Dr. Alex Dimitriu M.D., double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and the founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine.
3. Feelings of comfort and calm
There’s a reason we like cuddling and spooning so much. Who among us wouldn’t want to be held all night? According to Dr. Roban, the benefit of a weighted blanket is similar to snuggling up with a loved one. “Weighted blankets offer a soothing feeling of calmness and security. People often report that using a weighted blanket feels like receiving a big hug.” And it turns out, this effect may actually go one step further. “Just like swaddling babies, there is belief that the weight of a weighted blanket reproduces the [snug] feeling we were used to in the womb,” says Dr. Dimitriu.
4. Less tossing and turning
There’s nothing more frustrating than waking up throughout the night. But good news: getting a weighted blanket might help with that too. As Dr. Roban mentioned, weighted blankets calm the nervous system, which in turn encourages less movement and disruption throughout the night. Eight hours of deep sleep? Sign us up.
5. Easier time falling asleep
Another benefit of a calm nervous system? It’s easier to fall asleep at night, says Dr. Roban. If you’re looking to be transported to dreamland ASAP, try lying in bed with your weighted blanket for 10 to 15 minutes before you want to fall asleep. This pre-sleep period will let your nervous system totally calm down by the time you’re ready for your head to hit the pillow. The National Sleep Foundation claims that weighted blankets may also increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in sleep regulation.
6. A deeper, more restful snooze
In 2019, the brand Gravity Blanket conducted a sleep study and found that 72 percent of participants reported a deeper, more restful sleep when using a weighted blanket. “Many people endorse improved sleep quality [after using a weighted blanket],” confirms Dr. Dimitriu. We can’t remember the last time we actually woke up feeling fully rested, so this benefit alone is enough for us to be convinced.
7. Improved sleep quality for kids
Already tried everything from no screen time after dinner to fancy pillow sprays for your little restless sleeper? It may be time to invest in a weighted blanket for your kiddo. “I’ve known both clients and acquaintances who suffer from anxiety or sleep issues, or identify on the autism spectrum, to have benefited from these weighted blankets,” child psychologist Bethany Cook, Psy.D., author of For What It’s Worth—A Perspective on How to Thrive and Survive Parenting: Ages 0-2, told us. Just be sure to check in with your pediatrician first, she says.
Thinking it’s time to try a weighted blanket? Here’s what you need to know.
First, it’s important to understand that despite their many potential benefits, weighted blankets aren’t a magic cure, says Dr. Roban. Make sure you’re also practicing good sleep hygiene practices like putting down your phone at least 30 minutes before bed, avoiding caffeine close to bedtime and getting adequate exercise throughout the day.
When it comes to choosing a weighted blanket, opt for one that’s approximately 10 percent of your total bodyweight, says Dr. Roban. Make sure your pick is also somewhat breathable so you can stay cool throughout the night, adds Dr. Dimitriu. “People sleep more deeply and soundly when their bodies can cool during the night,” he explains.
With that criteria in mind, here are seven of the best weighted blankets on the market.
1. Best Budget Pick: Sleep Philosophy 12lb Plush Weighted Blanket
Considering most weighted blankets retail for well over $100, this blanket’s $80 price point can’t be beat. And based on its reviews, affordable doesn’t equal cheap in this case. “I’m so glad that I shopped around and found the perfect weighted blanket. It has a cover that easily zips off to wash. It’s very good quality and super soft,” writes one customer. A few reviewers mention that the weighted beads do move around and make a bit of noise, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a totally silent option.
2. Best For Couples: Therapedic Reversible 25lb Extra Large Weighted Blanket
Sleeping with a weighted blanket that covers only half the bed can feel a little isolating. Plus, after your partner sees how much you love yours, they’ll probably want a weighted blanket too. Kill two birds with one stone by opting for this extra-large style that will stretch across the entire bed and envelope you two in a cocoon of comfort. Just keep in mind that the 25-pound weight is on the heavy end of the spectrum, as far as weighted blankets go.
3. Best Eco-Friendly Option: WellBe Embrace Organic Cotton Weighted Blanket
Don’t want to invest in a blanket that uses glass or plastic pellets for its weight? We don’t blame you. It’s not exactly the most sustainable concept. This blanket, however, is weighted with natural flax seed fill that’s meant to provide soft, even pressure while you catch zzz’s. The exterior is woven from 100 percent organic cotton, for a comfortable feel.
4. Best for Hot Sleepers: Therapedic 16lb Medium Weighted Cooling Blanket
If you regularly wake up sweating, the last thing you want to do is add another hot, heavy layer to your bed. That’s why this blanket combines the standard benefits of a weighted blanket with a bamboo cover that won’t trap excess heat. “The cooling feature is perfect for those who want the extra weight without the extra heat,” confirms one buyer.
5. Best Design: The Yaasa Weighted Blanket
If you’re going to invest in a weighted blanket, it might as well be a chic one that you can proudly display draped over your couch or folded up on the end of your bed. Yaasa’s chunky knit design is made up of hand-knitted cotton fabric and synthetic fibers to give it the heft you want—without the boring baffle box design we’re used to seeing.
6. Best For Kids: Franco Bedding Super Soft Plush Kids Frozen 2 Weighted Blanket
They might not be so crazy about the idea of a weighted blanket at first, but as soon as they see Elsa and Anna, they’ll be all over it. It’s weighted at just 4.5lbs, making it ideal for children in the 35 to 55lb weight range. “My daughter had the hardest time falling asleep, but those days are over! She snuggled right up and felt totally secure. She can’t sleep without it anymore and takes it on sleepovers,” writes one happy mom.
7. Best on Amazon: Quility Premium Adult Weighted Blanket and Removable Cover
Like to scour customer reviews before you make a purchase? Look no further. This weighted blanket has racked up over 11,000 five-star reviews on Amazon which praise both its quality and its comfort. Multiple buyers state that they were weighted blanket skeptics until they gave this one a try. This blanket’s premium seven-layer construction makes it extra cozy to snuggle up with—and ensures that the glass beads stay put.