I Tried a Weighted Blanket for Better Sleep and Here’s What Happened

You bought temperature-control sheets, a supportive mattress and a pillow that perfectly cradles your head. But you still donít feel like youíre getting enough sleep. Maybe a weighted blanket is the solution.

Weighted blankets are gaining popularity as a tool for more comfortable sleep. And after listening to all the hype, I decided to see what they were all about for myself. Hereís what you need to know about weighted blankets ó as well as my experience when I tried one for better sleep.

What is a weighted blanket?

A weighted blanket is, well, a blanket with some weight to it. But itís not your average comforter or quilt.

These blankets typically come in weights from about 5 to 30 pounds. And the fabric and fill vary by manufacturer. Most often, cotton and polyester are used for the outer layer, according to the American Sleep Association. And common fillers ó which give the blankets their weight ó include polypropylene pellets and glass beads. Some people even use more eco-friendly filler materials, such as rice or barley.

As for size, you can find weighted blankets in smaller throw versions all the way up to ones that fit a king bed. If you sleep with a partner, itís your choice whether to get a blanket that covers just you individually or the both of you. And itís important to note ďthese blankets are made to fit on the top of the bed, and not to hang over the side,Ē the American Sleep Association says. ďIf weighted blankets are too large and hang off the bed, thereís a good chance it will keep falling and youíll be fighting to keep it on all night.Ē

When choosing a weighted blanket, the general guideline is you should go with a weight thatís roughly 10 percent of your body weight. (So a 150-pound person should look for a 15-pound blanket.) But some companies suggest calculating 10 percent of your body weight and then adding 1 to 2 pounds for your optimal blanket weight. And if youíre using the blanket for a specific medical issue, your doctor might have a different weight suggestion altogether.

Plus, it ultimately comes down to personal preference above all. The blanket should distribute a gentle pressure across your body that feels like a comfortable hug. So if a certain weight makes you feel good, thatís probably the blanket for you.

Potential benefits of a weighted blanket

woman sleepingCredit: Vera_Petrunina/Getty Images

Why do people use weighted blankets? The reasons abound, even though the research is still somewhat limited.

The general idea for a weighted blanket is theyíre meant to be calming. ďThe blankets are supposed to work much the same way tight swaddling helps newborns feel snug and secure so they can doze off more quickly,Ē according to Harvard Medical School. ďThe blanket basically simulates a comforting hug, in theory helping to calm and settle the nervous system.Ē

This is similar to deep pressure touch, ďa type of therapy that uses firm, hands-on pressure to reduce chronic stress and high levels of anxiety,Ē according to Healthline. Besides reducing the stress hormone cortisol, the pressure can increase the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin. And in turn, this can help combat conditions, including stress, insomnia, pain and weight gain. The hug-like feeling also can release oxytocin, which ďis known to decrease blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and aid in relaxation,Ē the American Sleep Association says.

People with many medical conditions have found success with weighted blankets. Some of the conditions include: sensory disorders, sleep disorders, ADHD, autism, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, Alzheimerís and Parkinsonís.

But itís important for people to check with their doctors before using a weighted blanket. Certain health issues that might be adversely affected by a weighted blanket include sleep apnea and some other sleep disorders, respiratory and circulation problems, heart conditions and temperature sensitivity. Plus, always check with a medical professional before trying a weighted blanket for a child, Harvard Medical School says.

Even if you do get the green light to use a weighted blanket, itís still necessary to be realistic about your expectations. ďJust as swaddling works for some babies and not others, weighted blankets won’t be a miracle treatment for everyone,Ē according to Harvard Medical School.

My experience with a weighted blanket

So how did a weighted blanket work for me?

Iíve been using a 12-pound, twin-sized weighted blanket for about a month now. I didnít necessarily have any specific conditions I was hoping to treat with it. But ever since I experienced a neck injury a few years ago, I donít sleep as deeply as I used to ó often waking up because my neck is in an uncomfortable position.

Furthermore, since that neck injury, Iíve been in a battle with myself to become a back sleeper and keep my spine in proper alignment. So I hoped the added weight of the blanket might be able to help me on my alignment quest.

Going to bed on the first night with the blanket seemed promising. The weight really was comforting, and I quickly found myself drifting off to sleep on my back with my spine aligned. (Normally I would give up on this sleep position and curl up on my side or stomach, forsaking proper alignment.) But by the middle of the night I had kicked off the blanket because I was too hot. And that was it for night No. 1.

In the subsequent nights, temperature continued to be my biggest complaint. And it probably didnít help that the weather over the past month has been all across the board. Some nights the weighted blanket was perfectly cozy, and others it was just too hot to use. Iím still working out how I want to layer the blanket on my bed going into the summer months. For now, a sheet plus the weighted blanket is working. And I imagine Iíll be happy to have the blanket in the winter months.

So what about my sleep? Well, not every night has been an improvement. But since Iíve gotten the blanket Iíve had more mornings than normal when I wake up feeling totally relaxed and rested. And Iíve had more nights when I canít remember waking up at all, even just to switch positions. Plus, Iíve been waking up more often on my back, which I hope means Iíve been spending more time with my spine in alignment. My neck hasnít been magically cured, but it does feel less achy on the days when I wake up comfortably under the blanket.

Overall, Iím very happy with my blanket and will continue to experiment with it. Even though Iíve had some uncomfortable nights, itís definitely been worth the exceptionally relaxing sleep Iíve gotten with it.

Main image credit: Olga Nikiforova/Getty Images

84 comments

Shirley E
Shirley E26 days ago

There's something quite cosy about a heavier blanket of the sort some of us older readers grew up with, but on what planet would a doctor with a roomful of sick people be holding a consultation about what kind of blanket someone uses?

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Irene S
Irene S26 days ago

I never heard of this before, but I got a heavy blanket. When I tried it, I could not sleep at all due to the feeling, I´m lying under a gravestone. Had to change it.

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Gloria p
Gloria p27 days ago

The weighted blanket will probably end up in basements and attics with the inversion boots and thigh tamer.

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Melanie St. Germaine

I sleep better with lots of blankets.

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Danuta W
Danuta Watola27 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin28 days ago

i wanted to try this with autistic clients

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Leo Custer
Leo C28 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Ian M.
Ian M.28 days ago

like it

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