If you’ve ever felt anxious or had trouble sleeping, you’ve probably had someone recommend that you try a weighted blanket. These have grown immensely in popularity over the past couple of years, touted for benefits such as reduced stress, better sleep, treatment for autism and PTSD, and even chronic pain relief. But do they really work, and what are the best weighted blankets to buy? Check out the Q&A below to learn more.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is filled with plastic pellets, glass beads, or simply thick fabric to create a heavy bed cover weighing anywhere from five to 30 pounds. Many people find the extra weight comforting, drawing comparisons to a hug or the swaddling of a newborn. Weighted blankets have been touted for benefits such as reduced stress and better sleep.
Do Weighted Blankets Help with Anxiety?
According to SELF, weighted blankets are thought to reduce anxiety through deep pressure touch stimulation, which helps calm the autonomic nervous system that controls your fight-or-flight response.
The scientific data supporting the use of weighted blankets for anxiety is currently limited. One small study found that 63 percent of participants reported less anxiety after using a 30-pound weighted blanket, but the study only involved 32 people. Another study involved psychiatric patients, who reported less distress and anxiety after using weighted blankets.
The SELF story above notes that the placebo effect is common with anxiety, making it even more difficult to determine how effective weighted blankets are.
Do Weighted Blankets Work for Insomnia?
Because insomnia is often linked to stress and anxiety, the calming effect of deep pressure touch stimulation is thought to help the body relax for sleep. However, there is similarly limited evidence to support the use of weighted blankets for sleep problems—and there are more proven options available.
“If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, or CBT-I, a specific treatment for insomnia with strong research support, is the recommended first-line treatment,” says Dr. Jana Scrivani, a clinical psychologist. “The National Institutes of Health lists it as a safe and effective treatment for insomnia. Additionally, a qualified therapist can help you to determine if anxiety is at the root of your sleeping difficulty, and work with you to treat that as well.”
Who Shouldn’t Use a Weighted Blanket?
“There are people with certain medical conditions who should not use weighted blankets while they sleep, and your medical doctor will be able to advise you as to whether its use may be contraindicated for you,” Dr. Scrivani cautions. A story from Harvard Health Publishing suggests that you should consult a doctor before using a weighted blanket if you have sleep apnea, other sleep disorders, respiratory problems, or chronic medical conditions.
Will a Weighted Blanket Make Me Hot?
If you tend to run hot while you sleep, the mere thought of lying under a heavy blanket might make you sweat. (Personally, I find my own weighted blanket ultra-cozy during the cooler months but store it in a closet over the summer.) That said, many “cooling” weighted blankets incorporate moisture-wicking fabrics and are designed to increase airflow and keep you from overheating.
How to Choose a Weighted Blanket
Most weighted blanket manufacturers suggest purchasing a blanket that’s about 10 percent of your body weight, so a 15-pound blanket would be appropriate for a 150-pound person, a 20-pound blanket would be best for someone weighing 200 pounds, and so on. If you’re between sizes, CNET recommends choosing the heavier option for more calming pressure—unless you have mobility issues that might make it difficult for you to push the blanket off.
The Best Weighted Blankets
Want to try a weighted blanket for yourself? Consider one of these highly rated options.
Tempur-Pedic Weighted Blanket
The Tempur-Pedic Weighted Blanket comes in 15- or 20-pound options, each with a removable, machine-washable cover. The exterior is a plush polyester material, while the weight comes from glass beads.
Yaasa Weighted Blanket
This unique hand-knitted blanket is made of cotton and polypropylene, making for a beautiful and breathable design. Choose between 15- and 20-pound weights, and between cream and gray colors. Note that this blanket is dry clean only.
Amy Garden Weighted Blanket
This affordable weighted blanket from Amazon comes in a variety of colors and sizes. It has numerous layers of cushioning polyester surrounding a central layer of glass beads. Consider purchasing a removable duvet cover for easy machine washing.
The manufacturer claims that the Gravity Blanket is “the world’s most popular weighted blanket,” and it’s certainly proven popular with reviewers, most of whom have rated it with five stars. The blanket has a comfy, machine-washable microfleece cover and comes in 15-, 20-, and 25-pound weight options. Choose from gray, blue, or white.
Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo’s weighted blankets are made with breathable cotton and glass micro-beads that don’t trap heat, so you can use them in any season. The blankets are machine-washable and come in weights of 12, 15, 20, and 25 pounds.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Traveling with Anxiety: 13 Ways to Relax and Enjoy Your Trip
- Natural Sleep Aids to Try When You Want to Avoid Medications
- 6 Ways to Feel Like You’re on Vacation at Home
Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration. Codey Albers contributed to this story.