How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

Written by David Rubin

Expert tested
Updated Regularly

Nighttime is often prime time for worries and stress. A busy mind can make it difficult to relax, fall asleep, and maintain restful slumber. Weighted blankets have a reputation for promoting calm, which makes them popular with anxiety sufferers. Understanding how weighted blankets work can help you determine whether they’re likely to improve your sleep experience.

We’ll explain what a weighted blanket is and how it’s intended to promote quality sleep. We’ll also highlight the purported benefits and address safety considerations. Finally, we’ll assess the potential pros and cons to help you decide if a weighted blanket is right for you.

What Is a Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets are heavy blankets intended to apply gentle pressure. Although scientific data is still emerging on their effectiveness, some sleepers report that the extra weight alleviates stress, promotes feelings of security, and makes falling and staying asleep easier.

Most weighted blankets weigh between 5 and 30 pounds. Sleepers generally prefer options that are about 10% of their body weight. However, you should also take your personal preferences into account. Some people prefer lighter weighted blankets to make it easier to change positions during the night. Others prefer heavier options to share with a sleep partner.

What Are Weighted Blankets Made Of?

Weighted blankets typically consist of heavy fill encased in a fabric shell. Depending on the brand and model, the shell may be cotton, linen, rayon from bamboo, fleece, or microfiber. Many weighted blankets also include or are compatible with a removable duvet made from similar materials. Glass or plastic beads are popular fill materials, though some blankets use ball bearings, sand, or other objects.

Woven weighted blankets are another option. Typically crafted from heavy, layered yarns, these blankets rely on the weight of the yarn to create pressure.

How Does a Weighted Blanket Work?

Weighted blankets are designed to calm the nervous system and ease stress via a therapeutic method called deep pressure stimulation.

In response to stress, the body’s sympathetic nervous system triggers an alert known as the fight-or-flight response. Autism and chronic stress can make this response even more common, frequently leading to anxiety, irritability, and exhaustion.

Studies indicate that deep pressure stimulation may reduce sympathetic arousal and increase parasympathetic arousal, which is associated with rest and relaxation. In turn, this may promote feelings of comfort and security, ease stress, and improve sleep quality.

Weighted blankets are intended to provide this deep pressure stimulation. However, further research is necessary to determine their effectiveness.

Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

Experts consider weighted blankets safe for most healthy adults and older children. However, anyone using a weighted blanket should have the strength and coordination to remove the blanket themselves if necessary. This means that those who are frail or have limited mobility should not use weighted blankets.

Weighted blankets aren’t appropriate for infants and toddlers since they could put the child at risk of suffocating or becoming trapped. During the first year of a child’s life, bedding can also increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, some weighted blankets are designed for older children.

Individuals with chronic respiratory or circulatory conditions, asthma, low blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, claustrophobia, and other medical conditions should also consult their doctors before using weighted blankets.

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Should You Buy a Weighted Blanket?

Whether you should buy a weighted blanket depends on your goals and personal preferences. Even if you decide a weighted blanket is right for you, it’s important to select the right weight and model for maximum comfort. Understanding the potential pros and cons can help you assess your options.

  • May calm overactive nervous systems and promote more restful sleep
  • Could increase a sense of security and overall well-being through a gentle hugging sensation
  • May lower perceived anxiety for some individuals
  • Typically sleep hotter than regular blankets
  • Often more expensive, ranging from $100 to $300
  • May not be a good fit for those with certain health conditions or physical limitations

About The Author

David Rubin

Certified Sleep Science Coach, Director of Product Testing

David is a Certified Sleep Science Coach with a lifelong passion for well-being and health optimization. His interest in sleep developed with the arrival of his son, when sleep suddenly became a precious commodity.

  • Position: Side sleeper
  • Temperature: Hot Sleeper
  • Chronotype: Lion