Weighted blankets were originally used therapeutically, and you could encounter them in psychiatric wards and hospitals. That changed a few years ago with the launch of a few successful crowdfunding campaigns, spearheaded by the Gravity Blanket.
These days, weighted blankets are all the range, and you can find a lot of different brands of them aimed at regular consumers. They are touting that they can do almost anything for you and fix all your sleep-related problems - better than a pillow or mattress can.
But can they? What benefits do they really offer? What’s the best-weighted blanket?
Today, I’ll tell you all about it and help you understand why weighted blankets are as popular as they are.
Do weighted blankets work?
Gimmicky products claiming to be a magic cure for all your ailments are nothing new – they have been around since ancient times, and they’re not going away any time soon. Weighted blankets certainly have all the hallmarks of one.
However, there are also products that seem like pure, useless gimmicks on first glance but do the job they’re supposed to do and do it well. They might simply be overhyped or a bit misleading but still genuinely useful.
So, which one of the two are they?
Well, in this case, it’s a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.
You see, weighted blankets, in general, are useful, and they work to a certain degree. They can help you relax and reduce the stress you’re feeling allowing you to fall asleep a bit easier and stay asleep.
However, these heavy blankets have been overhyped in recent years, and they don’t do everything that people claim they do. For example, they can’t cure insomnia, relieve you from sleep apnea or help with your back pain.
In addition to that, there are weighted blankets out there that offer no benefits or next to no benefits. They are, indeed, just gimmicky products made to cash in on the hype.
But what about the benefits that good weighted blankets offer? Well, stick with me, and I’ll tell you all about it.
What are the benefits?
While certain companies might tout a lot of different benefits that weighted blankets offer, most of those are bogus or much smaller than they claim.
However, weighted blankets do offer some significant benefits, and I’ll list them out for you as best as I can.
This is the main reason that weighted blankets were used in psychiatric clinics and hospital for so long.
The reason they work is related to a process called deep touch pressure or DTP. Gently applying the pressure to the body leads to the release of serotonin, a chemical which reduces stress and induces a feeling of happiness. Weighted blankets are quite useful for this type of therapy.
It’s the same reason why a light massage or a tight hug can relax you and why service dogs are trained to lie down on their owners. All of it triggers the same type of serotonin release.
In turn, this also triggers a reduced production of cortisol, a steroid that we secrete in stressful situations, further reducing the levels of stress we’re feeling.
Because of this, weighted blankets have been used for sensory integration therapy which is intended to help children with difficulty in processing sensations to cope with them. This can include children with autism, learning disabilities or other conditions that might cause them to be unsettled and anxious.
However, it also helps reduce the stress of your day-to-day life even if you don’t have any underlying condition that’s causing it.
While claims of weighted blankets ‘curing’ insomnia and similar conditions are false, it’s true that they have a beneficial effect on your sleep and a positive effect on insomnia.
A big factor is the two-fold effect that helps you sleep better. The first is what I already described – deep touch pressure. By making your body release serotonin and reduce stress, you have an easier time falling asleep.
The reduced production of cortisol also helps, since it usually counteracts the effects of melanin and stops you from falling asleep.
However, there’s more to it than just that. Optimal levels of serotonin also lead to the increased secretion of melatonin – the chemical that manages our sleep patterns. With the levels of melatonin increased our body feels sleepier and going to dreamland becomes much easier.
The other effect has to with restricting your movement. It’s quite difficult to move under weighted blankets, even when you’re awake. If you’re restless while trying to fall asleep, a weighted blanket will help to keep you in one place, thus allowing you to fall asleep faster.
Moving while sleeping can also lead to a feeling of tiredness even after a full night of sleep – weighted blankets also help reduce that type of restlessness, thus improving the quality of your sleep.
Help With Various Conditions
Due to their other effects, weighted blankets are quite useful for dealing with a wide variety of conditions which children or adults may be experiencing.
Weighted blankets are known for their use among children with autism spectrum disorders. As you might know, hugs and physical intimacy – a form of deep touch pressure – has been known to calm down such children.
These blankets offer a similar type of relief by restricting their movement, ‘grounding’ them and increasing their below-average serotonin and melanin levels.
ADHD is another condition that weighted blankets can be helpful with. Children with ADHD usually have trouble falling asleep due to restlessness, and weighted blankets can alleviate that issue by restricting their movement in bed.
Among adults, PTSD is an issue that weighted blankets can help a lot with. Since PTSD is characterized by high stress levels, the blankets can help by reducing those and allowing a person with PTSD to have a helpful tool to help them stop an incoming episode or just fall asleep easier.
OCD is another condition that’s made better by the use of a weighted blanket as is Alzheimer’s disease and many more.Just make sure to use your weighted blanket responsibly if you’re buying it for your children – there have been accidents and even deaths linked to improper use of weighted blankets with children or babies. Keep in mind that the blankets mentioned here are intended for adults only.
Do weighted blankets help for anxiety?
One major benefit that’s often mentioned when talking about weighted blankets is that they can help with anxiety disorders due to their calming effects.
Is this true or is this just another marketing tactic?
Well, here’s the deal: they can do some good, but they’re not a silver bullet.
The overall effects of a weighted blanket, like the increased secretion of serotonin and reduced secretion of cortisol, certainly help with anxiety. The feeling of deep pressure stimulation can also help you feel subjectively better and more relaxed about your anxiety.
It works both on people who have an anxiety-related disorder and those who just experience the feeling of general anxiety.
It’s also helpful with children, especially small children that need constant physical contact which parents in today’s modern world just can’t provide. These blankets can give them that feeling akin to a huge that can help calm them down and reduce their anxiety.
Again, just be sure to use the blanket responsibly if you’re giving it to children and try to keep the weight of the blanket at no more than 5 to 10 percent of their body weight.
Also, don’t wrap them in it completely – always leave room for them to get out on their own if they need to. Never use them with children who are less than 8 years old without a prescription.
But, if they need it, a weighted blanket can be a great calming tool for kids, even better than a stuffed animal.
So yes, weighted blankets to help reduce anxiety in both children and adults but don’t expect it to make your anxiety go away or to produce noticeable effects overnight. It might take awhile for you to see the benefits but stick with it.
Of course, there are cases where a weighted blanket might have the opposite effect – if you suffer from claustrophobia, for example, a weighted blanket might make you feel trapped in a small space. If you think you have a condition that a weighted blanket might worsen, avoid it.
The Gravity Blanket and why we don't recommend it
One of the major products that helped make weighted blankets as popular as they are right now was the Gravity Blanket. It had a massively successful Kickstarter campaign that earned millions of dollars and spurred on other, similar campaigns.
However, being among the first usually isn’t the same as being the best – and in this case, that’s certainly true. What that multimillion campaign delivered was not worth two cents.
There are many problems with the Gravity Blanket, and you can find most in the abysmal Amazon reviews that it has received in recent times. I can only give you a few of them here, but this isn’t everything, not by a long shot.
For starters, the workmanship is just shoddy here. The stitching is not good, and it’s easy for the filling to move around or even fall out. The fabric isn't good either, and it can rip easily – and I’m not talking after 20 washes or so, more like after 20 days.
The bad doesn’t stop there. The zipper gets stuck and falls apart rather quickly or comes off completely. The materials it’s made out of stink to high heavens, and it’s difficult – or almost impossible – to wash it and get it out.
And on top of all that, 250 dollars is what you pay for this travesty that you can’t even return since the customer service that Gravity offers is completely non-existent. They’ll tell you that you can’t get a refund and that’s it!
Luckily, there are some much better alternatives out there, and I’ll talk about three of them in the next section.
Best weighted blankets for Adults
I’ve selected only the best of the best here, and I’ll give you my honest opinion on them – warts and all!
ZonLi Weighted Blanket
The Best Weighted Blanket Overall
Platinum Health Premium
The Best Premium Weighted Blanket
Degrees of Comfort
The Best for Hot Sleepers
1. ZonLi Weighted Blanket
This blanket offers a lot of good stuff at a fraction of the price of its competitors, and it does it all in style.
It’s certainly a warm blanket that won’t leave you feeling naked during the winter months, but it can be a tough one to use when the weather’s a bit hotter. You’ll definitely sweat under it during the spring and summer, especially if you sleep hot.
The stitching is top-notch, and you can be a little rough with it without any worries. That’s especially good when rowdy children are concerned. The materials are also not prone to ripping.
You also don’t need to worry about any allergies – it’s made mostly out of cotton, and the beads are glass, so it’s completely hypoallergenic. Even people with sensitive skin can use it.
The beads themselves are a bit unevenly distributed, and some of them can move around, which might cause a few problems, though. I didn’t find it to be too problematic and they don’t shift all that much.
Overall, this is a well-made weighted blanket, and you won’t go wrong if you get it since it’s the best one out there. Just make sure you can deal with those few downsides I mentioned.
Lots of weighted blankets have issues with the weighted beads inside them moving around. Here, that’s not the case – each bead is in a tight pocket that doesn’t allow them to move around at all, so the weight stays consistent.
Despite that, this blanket won’t feel ‘bumpy’ or uncomfortable since the premium cover is quite soft and comfortable. All of the materials are soft and sturdy with the stitching being quite good.
Now, the issue with the cover is that the blanket might move around inside it since the ties are not well-made and often come loose.
It’s a great blanket... until you look at the price. It’s much higher than most of its competitors, and you probably should wait for a deep discount before you buy it. It’s good, but it might not be worth that price. It is a premium product after all.
3. Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket
If you want a weighted blanket and you sleep hot, this is a great option. It’s also the best pick for people on a budget.
For starters, it’s a well-made blanket overall. The fabric is durable, the beads don’t shift around too much, and the weight is consistent.
It comes with two different duvet covers – one is designed for the chilly, winter months while the other one is made for people who are hot sleepers. They both feel quite soft and comfortable. The cooler cover is especially great and works well during the summer.
Some people have received blankets that had beads falling out of them, but it doesn’t seem to happen all the time. The good thing is, the company is willing to send you a replacement if you experience this problem.
The zippers, on the other hand, are consistently bad and you can’t replace them. They get stuck too often and might just break if you force them too much – not a good look.
It’s a great budget pick, and the alternate duvet covers are awesome, especially the cooler one, but you do need to watch out for a few things when you buy it.
The Final Word
That’s all folks! I’ve talked a lot about weighted blankets today, and I want to take a bit of a rest.
Just remember to use your weighted blanket the right way, don’t force your children under it just because they can’t stop jumping on the bed and use a comforter with your blanket to make it feel more comfortable.
If you can’t find the right comforter – well, I can help you with that! Just take a look at what I think are the best down comforters available and choose one that fits you.
In case you got anything to ask or just have a few opinions you need to let loose, do it in the comments below and I’ll take a look at them as soon as possible.
Until next time!