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Weighted Blankets: Can They Help You Get Better Sleep?

 

Weighted blanket on bed

People who have difficulty getting a good night's rest, including those dealing with bouts of anxiety during the night, often find weighted blankets helpful. Pressure blankets can promote healthy sleep and stress relief, and those with autism, anxiety and insomnia are increasingly turning to them as sleep aids. Take a look at some of the benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket and learn whether one might be appropriate for you.

What Is a Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets, which can weigh anywhere between 3 and 30 pounds, are filled with layers of tiny pellets packed within the fabric. They're designed to apply even pressure across your entire body, similar to what you feel when you're draped with a lead apron before getting dental X-rays. That extra pressure makes many people feel more secure as they lie in bed, creating a sense of relaxation that helps them fall asleep.

Benefits of a Pressure Blanket

Heavy blankets are used as a type of therapy and sleep aid for people with anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and insomnia. They're also sometimes used therapeutically for children with various sensory issues.

Among the benefits users reap from weighted blankets are:

  • Protection from sensory overstimulation. Weighted blankets help those with ADHD and other sensory disorders feel protected and calm. The benefits of weight compression go beyond better sleep. For example, a study of children with autism spectrum disorder or ADHD showed that the use of weighted vests resulted in increases in attention and on-task behavior.
  • Calming of nervous system responses. The pressure of a heavy blanket has been shown to lower the heart rate and slow down the breathing of people who are anxious. Once they've relaxed their nervous system, they're better able to sleep. A 2016 study showed a significant calming of patients' heart rates undergoing wisdom tooth surgery when they used deep pressure input via weighted blankets. In addition, these blankets can hinder the ability to toss and turn while sleeping, an action that can wake many people mid-sleep.
  • Release of natural chemicals in the The deep pressure of weighted blankets may replicate the effects of massage, which can stimulate the production of several important chemicals in the brain. These include serotonin, which steadies the mood, helps you relax and enables sleep-wake cycles. Also triggered by heavy blankets and light skin pressure is oxytocin, a hormone that generates feelings of calmness, attachment and relaxation and is also involved with the sleep-wake cycle. Finally, weighted blankets may help the body suppress the release of cortisol, which is a hormone involved in the stress response.

Who Should (and Shouldn't) Use Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets appear to show real benefits for several groups of people. They improve the time it takes to fall asleep for children with ADHD. They're also recommended for people with dementia, helping them feel more secure at night. Studies of people with anxiety have shown that deep pressure stimulation and the use of weighted blankets can help reduce anxiety as well as some of its symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate. The results of these and other studies suggest that pressure blankets are useful in general for the treatment of various types of sleep disorders.

Weighted blankets aren't for everyone, however. Infants and young children should not use them as the blankets may be too heavy for them to push off their faces. In addition, if any of the plastic or glass beads fall out, they pose a choking hazard. People with sleep apnea or various respiratory problems should also not use pressure blankets without a doctor's approval.

Best Weighted Blankets

If you're in the market for a weighted blanket, browse through these choices we've gathered for you from top manufacturers.

1. Gravity Blanket

The Gravity Blanket comes in several wrappings, including a plush mink-like faux fur and a moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you cool as you sleep. A grid separates the glass beads, so they don't bunch up, and the blanket comes in multiple weights.

2. Helix Weighted Blanket

The affordably priced Helix Weighted Blanket has a luxuriously soft cover, with a velvety feel on one side and fleece on the other. It offers a 100-night trial period, so you can see how you like it before committing.

3. Baloo Weighted Blanket

The Baloo Weighted Blanket is a strong choice for use during the summer or for those who live in warm climates. Its lightweight cotton cover is breathable and comfortable in warm temperatures. It's also quiet when you shift around at night, and you can secure it within your own duvet cover, thanks to the attached loops.

4. Yasaa Weighted Blanket

The luxurious Yasaa Weighted Blanket is unlike most other blankets because it's knitted rather than woven, looking more like a cozy throw than a duvet. Instead of using plastic or glass beads, it's interspersed with recycled plastic fibers that bring the weight. While it's pricier than most weighted blankets and requires dry cleaning, those wanting to wrap themselves in decadence are often happy to pay the price.

5. YnM Weighted Blanket

With a lightweight bamboo cover, the YnM Weighted Blanket is a good choice for those who want to sleep cool — and as one of the most economically priced weighted blankets on the market, it's also popular with those watching their budgets. YnM offers 14 weights to choose from, many color selections and a true couple's blanket, big enough to cover a large bed.

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