If you suffer from occasional sleep restlessness or insomnia due to stress, anxiety, or any other reason, you might need some assistance to help you achieve the deep sleep you desire. And no, we’re not talking about sleeping pills, white noise machines, or sleeping apps, rather something that will give you a full-body cuddle and help release those calming hormones, like a weighted blanket. So what is this, exactly?
Weighted blankets, also known as gravity blankets or heavy blankets, are blankets that have extra heft than the ordinary blankets due to being made of heavier materials or layers of fabric staffed with glass microbeads or plastic pallets. You can purchase them in store departments, online, or in drugstores, and even make them on your own. Granted, a weighted blanket is more expensive than your regular blanket or duvet, but if it gives you the sleep you’re longing for, we say it’s totally worth it.
So, before you invest in one, let’s go over everything you need to know about weighted blankets, from how they actually work to some recommendations of the best weighted blankets on the market.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Imagine the feeling of relaxation and sleepiness after a good massage therapy. The gently applied pressure during the massage has powerful effects on our physical and mental health. Hugs work in a similar manner, and mimicking this deep-induced touch is exactly what a weighted blanket does.
The weight that’s added to the blanket is equally distributed on our body and pushes it downward, which exerts a deep pressure stimulation. Just like a firm, gentle pressure from a massage, or other physical touch. These deep pressure simulations have a big impact in releasing hormones that calm the body down, more specifically oxytocin and serotonin.
Oxytocin is a hormone that stimulates the feeling of closeness and attachment, and creates a calming effect. It’s one of the few hormones which regulate the human sleep-wake cycle, which is why a high amount of oxytocin in our body while we’re asleep prolongs our sleep time and improves our sleep quality.
Serotonin, also known as the happy hormone, keeps us relaxed during the day, and converts to melatonin during the night, which is why keeping optimal serotonin levels is important for a good night’s sleep.
There’s another hormone that a weighted blanket regulates, only this time keeping it on the low, and that’s cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone” which plays a main role in stress response of the human body. High cortisol levels result in trouble falling (and staying) asleep, so keeping them low is essential, and that’s exactly what a weighted blanket does.
The deep pressure simulations also reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system of the human body; the system that is responsible for vigilance and alertness. Moreover, deep pressure stimulations boost the activity of the so-called parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the blood pressure and heart rate, so the person feels calm and relaxed.
Who Can Benefit From a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets can be beneficial for many health conditions due to the deep pressure stimulations. Here are some health conditions for which the use of a weighted blanket can be helpful in achieving a good night’s sleep:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A common symptom of ASD, especially in children, is sleep problems. Weighted blankets help calm stressed individuals, helping them get a better sleep;
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Weighted blankets might help individuals with ADHD who are overstimulated by the noise in their environment. At bedtime, the deep pressure stimulation can make them feel safe and secure, which will calm them down and with that help them fall asleep faster.
- Anxiety. One of the basic uses of a weighted blanket is anxiety relief. The deep pressure stimulations of the weighted blanket can help decrease autonomic arousal, which is the main reason for anxiety symptoms, like increased heart rate.
- Sleep Disorders. Weighted blankets are shown to help treat some sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
- Osteoarthritis. Massage therapies apply deep pressure to osteoarthritic joints, and this is very helpful in releasing pain in people with osteoarthritis. Due to the fact that the weighted blankets simulate deep pressure, they can be very beneficial for people with osteoarthritis to relieve their pain and help them get a good night’s rest.
- Medical procedures. Medical procedures can cause some symptoms of anxiety, such as increased blood pressure, and as we already explained, gravity blankets are shown to relieve anxiety symptoms.
- Chronic pain. Massage therapy is a recommended home treatment for chronic pain, so the use of a weighted blanket can be applied as an additional pressurized therapy during sleeping.
Who Shouldn’t Use Weighted Blankets?
When a weighted blanket is used properly, it’s safe for most children and adults. However, there are a few cases in which the usage of a gravity blanket might be a little bit risky.
- Children. Weighted blankets aren’t suitable for small kids that are under three years of age or if their body weight is under 50 pounds. In this case, you need to consult a pediatrician before your child starts using a weighted blanket.
- Pregnant woman. Weighted blankets can be quite useful while you’re pregnant, particularly if you have trouble falling asleep. However, it’s recommended to first consult your OB-GYN to make sure it’s safe for you.
- Elderly people. Elderly people have certain health conditions that don’t go along with the use of a weighted blanket, so if you fall into this category, you should consult your doctor prior to using a gravity blanket.
- Individuals with certain health conditions. Regardless of a person’s age, weighted blankets aren’t beneficial for some health conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, or respiratory disorders – so, again, consult your doctor before using a weighted blanket.
Best Weighted Blankets for a Good Night’s Rest
Weighted blankets can be filled with glass beads, plastic pellets, ball bearings, or other materials which make the blankets considerably heavier in comparison to the standard blanket or duvet cover. There are also new models of weighted blankets that have open-knit designs which are more breathable.
Another thing to consider is their weight. Weighted blankets usually weigh from 5 to 30 pounds, and it’s recommended to use one which is equal to 10% of your body weight.
If you’re trying to find the most suitable weighted blanket in terms of longevity, softness, heaviness, and breathability, here are some recommendations:
- Helix is the best weighted blanket for all seasons;
- Sweet Zzz Organic has the best price;
- Gravity is the best weighted blanket for those warm, summer days;
- Bearaby Nappling is the best weighted blanket for children;
- Layla is the softest gravity blanket;
- Baloo is an eco-friendly option;
- Silk & Snow is the most cozy one;
- DreamCloud is the best weighted blanket for partners;
- Bearaby Cotton is overall the best weighted blanket.
As you can see, the benefits of a weighted blanket are numerous. However, if you have a health condition, it’s better to first consult with your doctor in order to be safe and secure while using it. If the doctor recommends you to sleep with a weighted blanket, don’t hesitate to try it as you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. We’ve made some suggestions, so go over all the options and find the best one for your needs. We wish you a good night’s rest.