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Weighted Blankets: From Theory to Therapy

Using a weighted blanket for sleeping is trending, and for good reason. It helps people fall asleep.

That’s not all. There’s evidence that it may benefit those with mental health issues. What are they? How do therapeutic weighted blankets work?

Explore the non-pharmacological therapy and discover more weighted blanket benefits. Use our guide to choosing a weighted blanket to find the best one.


What are weighted blankets?

Choosing the right pillow is vital for quality sleep. Using a therapeutic weighted blanket is also beneficial.

Here’s how weighted blankets work. The heavier blanket may offer medical benefits as it mimics pressure therapy. It calms and gives you the same feeling when someone hugs or holds you.

These blankets vary in size, shape, color, and material. It’s a matter of preference. Weighted blanket materials may include the following:

  • cotton
  • flannel
  • bamboo
  • linen
  • rayon


These fabrics make the blanket soft and comfy. It’s the filling that makes it heavy. Some filling includes microfiber beads, sand, steel beads, pebbles, or grains. This blanket falls into the duvet-style category. Knitted weighted blankets are those woven with thick yarn.

There are myths surrounding the use of weighted blankets, including:


Weighted blankets are too heavy

The blankets can weigh between five and 30 lb. The rule of thumb is to choose one that is about 10% of your body weight.


Weighted blankets are for people with special needs

One misconception is that weighted blankets are only for people with special needs. They may be therapeutic for autism, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). You don’t need a medical condition to gain from sleeping with a weighted blanket.


Weighted blankets aren’t effective

Weighted blanket studies suggest several potential benefits. These include:

  • easing insomnia in adults living with depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorders
  • lowering anxiety in some children with mental health disorders
  • improving sleep in older adults living in a nursing home.


Weighted blankets are too expensive

Some people believe that weighted blankets are costly, which isn’t always the case. There’s something for everyone.

High-end weighted blankets can be expensive, but you have affordable options. The latter also provides excellent quality and comfort.

Weighted blankets are unsafe

Weighted blankets are generally safe as long as they’re not too heavy for the user. The person using the blanket should be able to lift it off themselves when necessary. This precaution is vital when getting a weighted blanket for children.


Consult your doctor before using a weighted blanket. It may be unsuitable for people with these medical conditions:


  • chronic respiratory issues
  • asthma
  • low blood pressure
  • type 2 diabetes
  • claustrophobia


The science behind weighted blankets

Although weighted blanket research is scarce, there’s evidence of its potential.

The basis of therapy using weighted blankets is Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS). It refers to firm but gentle squeezing, hugs, or holding that relaxes the nervous system. Research suggests that DPS alters physiological arousal.

The weighted blankets simulate a comforting hug. It’s like holding newborns tight, making them feel snug and secure, and helping them fall asleep.

The science of weighted blankets involves how deep pressure affects the nervous system. The body switches from its sympathetic nervous system to its parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) takes control during “fight-or-flight” reactions and during exercise. It prepares the body for physical activity by increasing blood flow to the tissues.

The SNS takes over when you face stressful situations. You feel anxious, irritable, on edge, and tired. It can affect your sleep and digestive system.

The SNS remains dominant in children with autism spectrum and sensory processing disorders. Even when they are calm, it’s easy to retrigger the system.

The parasympathetic system brings a sense of calm and peace to the mind and body. It slows the heart rate, relaxes muscles, and improves circulation. Your body produces endorphins, the “happy” hormones.

Weighted blanket therapy involves applying deep pressure to the body, triggering the parasympathetic nervous system. It calms, brings a sense of well-being, and releases dopamine and serotonin, which help with:

  • motivation
  • impulse control
  • memory
  • positive social behavior
  • sleep
  • digestion

Here’s an excellent reason why a weighted blanket should be on your list of bedroom essentials. It can ease the following medical conditions:


Anxiety and depression

Anxiety is that feeling of uneasiness and worry, usually about a future event. Everyone experiences it at times. Your heart rate may increase, and you breathe faster as your body prepares to “fight.”

You may have an anxiety disorder if the symptoms are constant, disrupting your life. You might begin to worry excessively about everyday stuff, causing your body to be stressed most of the time.

Anxiety and depression can interfere with sleep. People with the condition get into a vicious cycle, as lack of rest worsens their symptoms.

Using a weighted blanket for sleeping may provide anxiety relief. The pressure it exerts activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

The activation switches your body into “rest” mode. It slows your heart rate and breathing. You feel calm as anxiety symptoms dissipate.

A study introduced weighted blankets as a treatment option for psychiatric facility patients. Its purpose was to assess patients’ anxiety symptoms before and after the test.

The findings showed a significant drop in their anxiety levels. The results suggest a possible alternative to medications.

Cancer patients can experience anxiety when dealing with chemotherapy treatments. A study revealed a therapeutic weighted blanket helped reduce anxiety in these patients.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that affects brain development. People with ASD may face challenges with:

  • Social interactions
  • Communication
  • Learning
  • Certain behaviors
  • Interests

Its effects can range from mild to severe across the autism spectrum.

ASD can affect people of all genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. Treatments and services can improve a person’s symptoms and daily functioning.

Children and adolescents with ASD suffer from sleep problems more than other kids. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • Biological or physical elements
  • Psychological or mental health components
  • Social surroundings
  • Family situations and parenting

Research shows that sleep disruption worsens autism symptoms, resulting in challenging behaviors. Improving sleep can be therapeutic.

A weighted blanket may help as the pressure it provides can relieve stress. The relief allows people with ASD in over-stimulating situations to focus. The comfort also relaxes them. Some research shows children with autism prefer to use a weighted blanket. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

People with ADHD often find it difficult to fall or stay asleep. They’re easily distracted and have trouble keeping a sleep schedule. When they get to bed, they can’t quiet their mind and relax.

The stimulating ADHD medications they consume can also keep them awake. Anxiety, depression, and mood disorders also contribute to the problem.  

Research shows weighted blankets help kids with ADHD. They improve their sleep and sleeping patterns. Children also gain emotional control and better daily functioning.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic or scary experience. It may affect your mental, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Almost everyone with PTSD has nightmares and flashbacks that cause sleep difficulties. 

People with PTSD may experience over-tiredness, hypervigilance, and raised cortisol levels at bedtime.

A weighted blanket may help, as it provides comfort and a sense of security. It encourages serotonin production, which boosts mood. Melatonin levels increase, helping you sleep. Stress levels go down with a reduction in cortisol.

Therapeutic benefits for sleep

Getting good sleep is vital for your health and happiness at any age. Your energy levels, mood, and ability to function depend on how well you slept the night before.

While you slumber, your body recharges your brain and maintains physical health. It’s like getting an overnight tune-up for your mind and body. 

Quality sleep is also critical for kids and teenagers. It boosts the growth and development of their still-maturing bodies and brains.

If you don’t get enough rejuvenating sleep, it can affect your health. There’s an increased risk of chronic issues, including weight gain and heart problems.

Your brain function also takes a hit. You may have difficulty concentrating, learning new things, and getting along with people.

Sleep influences the following body functions:

Heart and circulatory system

When you’re awake, your heart rate and blood pressure are high, allowing you to be active. During sleep, your parasympathetic system takes over. Your heart doesn’t work as hard as when you’re awake.

If you don’t sleep enough or wake up often during the night, you may have a higher risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Stroke

Glucose metabolism

There’s an increased risk of type II diabetes in people who don’t get enough sleep. Short sleep duration may alter glucose metabolism. This phenomenon appears to affect men more than women for unknown reasons.

Immune system

Sleep also influences parts of your immune system that are more active at different times of day. When you slumber, a particular type of immune cell works harder. This is why people who don’t sleep enough are more likely to get colds and infections.

Thinking and memory

Sleep boosts learning abilities and helps form long-term memories. Poor quality sleep affects your concentration and focus. 

Brain health

The removal of waste products from brain cells occurs more during sleep than when you’re awake. Lack of proper sleep may cause brain injuries that lead to stroke and dementia.

Poor sleep is a severe problem in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports about 1 in 3 adult Americans don’t get enough sleep daily.

Many factors, like age, gender, weight, and race, affect sleep quality. Some medical conditions may also prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. These include insomnia, anxiety, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Weighted blankets can be an effective insomnia therapy because of deep pressure stimulation. DPS helps improve sleep quality by:

  • Stimulating serotonin production. The hormone boosts mood.
  • Reducing cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Raising melatonin levels.

Other weighted blanket sleep benefits include providing comfort and a sense of security. Many sleepers claim this feeling helps them doze off quicker.

Research on using a weighted blanket for sleeping supports this claim. Participants fell asleep more easily and seldom woke up during the night. They also felt more calm during the day.

Choosing the right weighted blanket

Choosing a weighted blanket is tricky because there are different specifications. This weighted blanket guide covers the key factors to help you make an informed decision.

When choosing a weighted blanket, consider the following:


A weighted blanket typically weighs between five and 30 lb. Manufacturers recommend choosing one that’s about 10% of your body weight. You should feel comfortable and be able to get out from underneath the blanket.


Ideally, a weighted blanket should fit one person. Don’t choose one the same way you select a normal blanket. They serve different purposes.

Avoid an oversized weighted blanket. It can slip or shift, creating an uneven weight distribution. It isn’t easy to pull back over you if it slides off.

The ideal weighted blanket should cover you from the neck down. Choose one that’s one size smaller than the bed size.


Most weighted blankets use either plastic poly pellets or glass beads. The beads are smaller and heavier than the pellets. Blankets with glass beads are thinner than those containing pellets. Glass beads are more environmentally friendly.

Choose a breathable fabric, as it keeps you cool. Synthetic materials trap heat, which is ideal for colder climates.


Heavier blankets cost more than lighter ones. Those that use glass beads are more expensive than plastic pellet blankets.

One of the best weighted blankets is our Reversible Weighted Blanket. The outer blanket has two multi-functional sides. One side uses sustainable and ever-so-soft cooling bamboo. The other features our cozy signature mink with embossed pressure dots.

The inner blanket contains fine glass beads to optimize weight distribution. They’re washable, as each blanket has a removable outer cover. The inner blanket has ties and clasps to fasten both blankets.

Safety measures

Exercise caution when considering a weighted blanket for children. Ensure your child can shift the blanket without help. If not, avoid using it.

Practical tips for using weighted blankets

Using weighted blankets is straightforward but takes getting used to them. How long it takes to adjust to a weighted blanket depends on the individual.

The best way is to ease yourself into using it by following these weighted blanket tips.

Sit on the couch and cover your legs for a while if you plan to use it for sitting. Notice how the deep pressure feels.

Do the same if you’re using a weighted blanket for sleeping. Start by covering your legs before putting it over your body. Comfort is the key. Before long, its calming effects will lull you to sleep.

To enjoy the benefits a weight blanket offers, use it regularly. Incorporate it into your bedtime routine. You may also relax under it during the day. 

It’s essential to care for weighted blankets to prolong their life. Clean your blanket as it absorbs body oils and sweat. Check the manufacturer’s instructions before washing. 

Use a gentle soap, detergent, or stain remover to spot-clean your blanket. Rinse with cold or warm water, and let it air dry. Clean stains as soon as they occur to prevent them from setting.

For blankets with a duvet cover, only remove and wash the cover. To wash your blanket, you may machine or hand wash it. Remember to use a mild detergent without bleach.

Use cold or warm water, as many weighted blankets can’t handle hot water. Rinse thoroughly. 

Air dry your weighted blanket by laying it flat. Shake it out often to let the fill dry and distribute evenly. Choose a low or medium setting if you use a dryer. Make sure that the blanket is dry before using it again.


Don’t wait to enjoy the therapeutic weighted blanket

Using a weighted blanket for sleeping may solve your sleep woes. Research shows that therapeutic weighted blankets offer many benefits. Deep pressure stimulation helps people with insomnia, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD, and ASD.

A weighted blanket is also an excellent alternative to medication for sleep therapy. We recommend you consult a doctor before getting one to ensure it’s suitable.

Visit our blog for more solutions and information about sleep.