The Science of Weighted Blankets: Do They Really Work?

Key Points

  • Weighted blankets, filled with materials like plastic pellets or tiny glass beads, apply a comforting pressure across your body that can induce relaxation.

  • Weighted blankets soothe conditions such as anxiety or ADHD and improve your sleep.

  • These products utilize pressure stimulation, which leverages our body's physiological responses to firm, hands-on pressure, regulating your mood and promoting well-being.

  • Consider factors such as the blanket's weight — generally 10 percent of your body weight — fabric, and fill material.

If lousy sleep is weighing you down, a weighted blanket might be your solution. Rising in popularity, these blankets are more than just a cozy companion for cold nights. They offer therapeutic benefits that can transform the quality of your sleep and overall well-being. From easing anxiety and stress to managing sensory issues, weighted blankets could be the missing ingredient in your perfect night's sleep.

What Are Weighted Blankets?

Weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like — blankets with extra weight. This added weight usually comes from materials like plastic pellets or tiny glass beads sewn into pockets throughout the blanket, giving it a distinct, heavy feel.

Unlike regular blankets or comforters, weighted blankets apply gentle, even pressure across your body, simulating a hugging sensation. This sensation is calming and comforting, and research suggests it might even have some therapeutic benefits.

Like regular blankets, weighted blankets come in various sizes to fit different beds or bodies. But it's their weight that sets them apart. Most range from 5 to 30 Ibs, with the right weight for you generally being about 10 percent of your body weight.

The Science of Weighted Blankets

What makes these heavier-than-normal blankets so beneficial for sleep and relaxation? It's all thanks to a concept called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), which describes the feeling of firm, hands-on pressure — the kind you experience with a firm hug, a massage, or under a weighted blanket. This pressure aids in reducing stress and anxiety by activating certain physiological responses.

Your body's "feel good" hormones, serotonin and dopamine, increase under DTP stimulation. These hormones help to regulate mood, promoting feelings of happiness and relaxation.

Therapeutic Benefits of Weighted Blankets

The benefits of weighted blankets extend beyond better sleep — they can also offer some pretty significant therapeutic effects. Studies have found that weighted blankets can help manage anxiety. The gentle, constant pressure they provide can soothe the nervous system, reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and creating a calming effect. If anxiety affects the quality of your rest, a weighted blanket could help you sleep better.

Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs) are conditions where the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Weighted blankets can provide comfort and security for individuals with SPDs, reducing symptoms and improving overall function. Weighted blankets can ease the uncomfortable sensations of Restless Legs Syndrome and fibromyalgia, enhancing sleep and improving overall comfort for those affected.

Who Benefits from Weighted Blankets?

While everyone can enjoy the comforting embrace of a weighted blanket, certain groups of people might find them especially beneficial. Weighted blankets are a boon for adults who struggle with anxiety or have trouble sleeping well. They provide a non-medical method to manage these issues, promoting relaxation and improved sleep patterns.

Children who have SPDs can also significantly benefit from weighted blankets. These blankets provide the constant sensory input that these children often seek, helping them feel more calm and secure.

The calming effects of weighted blankets can benefit individuals with ADHD or autism. A study conducted by Baric et al. suggests that "[w]eighted blankets showed positive impact on falling asleep, sleeping the whole night, and relaxing during the day, and they were used frequently by children and adults with ADHD and/or ASD."

Weighted blankets can provide security, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep quality, but you can still benefit from the deep, comforting pressure that a weighted blanket provides even if you don't have a specific condition. Whether winding down after a long day or seeking a relaxing evening, a weighted blanket could help you sleep better.

Choose the Right Weighted Blanket

Now that you understand the benefits, you're probably wondering how to choose the right weighted blanket. There are a few factors to consider to ensure you get the most out of this purchase.

Iced 2.0 Cooling Weighted Blanket

by Hush 

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/07/2024 01:04 am GMT


The general rule of thumb is that your weighted blanket should be about 10 percent of your body weight. However, personal comfort is important, too. It must be heavy enough to provide the benefits of DTP but not so heavy that it becomes uncomfortable or restrictive.

Napper Organic Hand-Knit Weighted Blanket

by Bearaby 

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Fabric and Fill

The fill often consists of materials like plastic poly pellets, micro glass beads, or steel shot beads. Each type of fill brings a unique texture and weight distribution. On the other hand, some weighted blankets, such as woven weighted blankets, have no fill at all. These blankets are naturally weighty, offering a different tactile experience. They're also more breathable, making them a popular choice for those living in hotter climates or who tend to overheat at night.

There's a wide array of fabric types, from breathable cotton for warmer sleepers to flannel for those who chill quickly and even cooling bamboo fabrics for ultimate breathability. Consider your local climate, personal temperature preference, and sensitivity to textures when choosing your blanket's fabric. If you went to see the Barbie movie like everyone else, consider picking up the bright pink Oodie x Barbie weighted blanket, which dropped on July 7, 2023.


Also, consider the care requirements. Machine-washable options are more convenient, but not all weighted blankets can handle a washing machine's agitation. Look for options with removable covers for easier cleaning. And remember, regular care can extend the lifespan of your blanket, so make sure you know how to wash your weighted blanket.

Some of the best weighted blankets include the Silk & Snow Hand Knitted Weighted Blanket, the Hush Iced 2.0 Weighted Blanket, and the Bearaby Cotton Napper Weighted Blanket.

How To Safely Use Your Weighted Blanket

As with any wellness tool, there are a few precautions to remember when using weighted blankets to ensure their safe usage. Weighted blankets aren't suitable for everyone. They're not recommended for children under two due to the risk of suffocation. For older children and adults, ensure the blanket isn't too heavy for older children and adults to move comfortably.

Handling your weighted blanket properly is crucial to ensure its longevity. Never use it as a regular blanket to wrap around the body or carry it around by the corners, as this can damage the internal stitching and distribution of weights.

Consult a healthcare professional before using a weighted blanket for specific medical conditions. The heavy pressure might worsen conditions like sleep apnea, asthma, and claustrophobia.

Other Uses for Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets can also be a part of your relaxation and stress-relief routines. Try using your blanket during meditation, reading, or other quiet, calming activities. You can also explore using your weighted blanket in various settings. Whether it's keeping one at work for stressful days, taking it on a trip for a sense of homey comfort, or using it during therapy sessions, the possibilities are numerous.

Is a Weighted Blanket Right for You?

Weighted blankets offer an array of therapeutic benefits. They can help manage anxiety, improve sleep quality, and comfort those with sensory issues. As you explore the benefits, always remember to choose a weighted blanket that suits your individual needs and seek professional advice for specific medical conditions.

If sleep problems are weighing you down, subscribe to Snooze. And, as always, sleep well.

Was this article helpful?