Chances are, you’ve heard an awful lot about weighted blankets — but what do they do, exactly, and what do people use them for? Can cozying up to one really help you relax and get a better night’s sleep? The short answer is yes!
Here, we’ll answer the question, “What are weighted blankets used for?” We’ll also discuss how weighted blankets work and the research behind them.
Weighted Blankets 101: What Are They and How Do They Work?
To state the obvious, weighted blankets are heavy — significantly heavier than most comforters and duvets on the market. Weighing anywhere from five to 35 pounds, they usually owe their mass to plastic pellets, glass beads, ball bearings or other materials in their design.
Many people find that the deep, sustained pressure provided by the weighted blanket — known as deep touch pressure — instills them with a sense of calm and contentment. And research backs this up. Indeed, scientists say that deep touch pressure helps counteract the physiological indicators of stress (increased breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) by signaling your nervous system to slow down, promoting a state of relaxation.
Weighted blankets aren’t the only way to experience the benefits of deep touch pressure, by the way. Gravity Blankets offers an array of high-quality weighted products to help you relax, including our luxurious weighted robe and soothing weighted eye mask.
What Are Weighted Blankets Used for?
So, what are weighted blankets good for? As it turns out, their benefits are vast! From anxiety relief to pain management, here are a few of the many uses of weighted blankets.
Because of their deeply calming effects, weighted blankets are a commonly suggested tool for people suffering from burnout, stress and anxiety disorders. Their gentle pressure makes you feel like you're being hugged, providing a sense of comfort while also triggering the release of "happy hormones," such as serotonin and dopamine.
Tip: Laughter is an amazingly effective stress reliever. When you feel stress creeping up on you, try watching a comedy while snuggling up to your weighted blanket.
Do you suffer from bouts of insomnia? A weighted blanket may be the secret to getting better slumber. In a randomized controlled study, researchers concluded that weighted blankets were a safe and effective treatment for insomnia. The pressure of a weighted blanket is thought to stimulate the production of the sleep hormone (melatonin) while also decreasing the primary stress hormone (cortisol), helping you fall into a deeper sleep.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Before they became a mainstream tool for combating stress and sleep issues, weighted blankets were originally marketed toward children and adults living with autism. People with autism often experience sensory overload, causing them extreme discomfort, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Occupational therapists often recommend weighted blankets for autistic children, citing their ability to de-escalate meltdowns and promote better sleep through deep pressure stimulation.
Anyone who lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) knows that it’s no walk in the park. People with ADHD often find the world overwhelming and may have difficulty concentrating, staying on task and keeping still. Unsurprisingly, it's not uncommon for people with ADHD to also struggle with sleep and anxiety issues.
Weighted blankets are believed to be beneficial for ADHD because they can help calm the nervous system and focus the mind, improving concentration while also decreasing anxiety and insomnia. While research on the subject is currently limited, one study has shown that weighted blankets can improve the sleep quality and overall well-being of children with ADHD.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often deal with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and images, nightmares and other unsettling symptoms that can be traced back to some traumatic incident. Weighted blankets, while not a first-line treatment for PTSD, can be extremely beneficial for adults living with PTSD. The blanket can provide a source of comfort on demand and help them through intense episodes.
Do you live with fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis or another condition that causes chronic pain? If so, you might want to try a weighted blanket. In a double-blind, randomized controlled study, researchers noted that weighted blankets produced greater reductions in the perception of chronic pain, particularly in highly anxious individuals.
Choosing the Right Weighted Blanket Is Key
Weighted blankets can be a useful tool for easing you and your loved ones into a calmer night’s sleep. Just be sure your weighted blanket isn’t too heavy or too hot. Aim for a blanket that weighs around 10 percent of the user’s body weight — and if you’re a hot sleeper, check out our cooling weighted blanket! It features revolutionary moisture-wicking materials that feel cool to the touch and quickly move sweat away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable while you sleep.