Over the last five years, we’ve found ourselves as a society turning toward personal comfort to alleviate the anxieties of modern stresses. Combating against societal pressures and an over-interconnectedness that has led many toward lack of sleep, physical and mental health issues, and a propensity to seek a deeper understanding of the self’s shortcomings — we’ve seen a growth in industries attempting to find a way to take the edge off. Since 2016 we’ve seen the rise of the fidget spinner, the fidget cube, and the weighted blanket as consumer products. This mainstream increase in using tools developed for folks diagnosed with autism, antisocial tendencies, and anxiety is a fascinating subject, but here at Smart Nora we specialize in sleep science, so we’re focusing on the weighted blanket.
What Is A Weighted Blanket
You may have seen one of these, or maybe heard from a coworker or family member about how much easier they sleep under a weighted blanket for adults, but not knowing quite what it is. Weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like — a heavy blanket that is weighed down with a filling material such as plastic or polypropylene hypoallergenic pellets. The pellets are distributed evenly throughout small self-contained pockets, which keep the pellets from piling up in one area when you move it. Generally, weighted blankets range between 10 and 25 pounds.
How Does a Weighted Blanket Work?
Like any other blanket, you place yourself comfortably under it. Unlike a normal blanket, the gentle pressure of a weighted blanket provides the effect of deep touch stimulation (DTP), which encourages the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. In tandem with melatonin, these chemicals will naturally induce a rather calming effect on the body, helping soothe the nervous system and encourage restful sleep. Some research suggests that slow and gentle touch can stimulate portions of the limbic system, the brain's network for processing emotion and fear. Deep touch stimulation helps relax people who suffer from anxiety.
Sleep specialist and neurophysiologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden Gaby Badre notes, “The pressure, if it’s homogeneous and well distributed along the body, can give you the cocooning effect. As a child, we always like to put ourselves in a cocoon.” This need for a feeling of comfort, of being held, does not go away as we become adults. For some, the feeling of a weighted blanket can help them feel more grounded and safe.
Weighted blankets for adults actually have a long history in the autism community, and have helped countless anxiety sufferers since the 1990s. In the mid-1960s, animal scientist and autism advocate Temple Grandin developed the “hug box,” a precursor to today’s weighted blanket. Autistic herself, she noticed that cattle on her relative’s ranch were soothed when they walked through narrow chutes. She realized that she experienced a similar sense of relaxation when under light, consistent physical pressure, and over the years clinicians and occupational therapy providers have taken what they learned from deep pressure stimulation and applied it to improving sleep quality in patients, autistic or otherwise.
Weighted blankets are even used to push back against the effects of PTSD in soldiers who have returned home from war. Many veterans suffer from PTSD’s effects upon returning home, including insomnia, anxiety, and other sleep disorders. Military PTSD resources include weighted blankets, which some soldiers swear by.
Our List: Best Weighted Blankets in 2019
Nowadays, it is becoming common to use tools like a weighted blanket to ease stress — and if you’re someone who isn’t able to fall asleep due to stress, it can be a huge boon. Here is the list of best weighted blankets in 2019:
The biggest company making weighted blankets is undoubtedly Gravity Blankets. With their successful 2017 Kickstarter campaign raising just under $5 million and a subsequent additional $13 million in sales, their product tops the charts. And the weighted blanket reviews skew favorably. Co-founder Mike Grillo attributes its success to a combination of good design (as they target a more luxe, modern audience) and the fact that “the 2016 election was still fresh in people’s minds” when they launched.
YnM weighted blanket 2.0 offers a variety of blanket weighted from 5 lbs to 30 lbs, suitable for customer’s weights from 40 lbs to 300 lbs including from single child to two adults. The uniqueness of this weighted blanket is its 7-layer design: the cover layer is 100% premium cotton with less fiberfill and the central layer is glass beads. Glass beads are sewn into individual pockets and surrounded by soft, light fiberfill to eliminate noisy shifting while you sleep. Overall, it is designed to comfortably surround your body and form to your shape while you sleep.
If you are looking for a weighted blanket with a restricted budget, you should consider ZonLi Weighted Blanket. It has 2 layers of 100% breathable cotton fabric and provides 5 lbs to 30 lbs weight fit for body weight from 90 to 300 pounds. ZonLi has multiple colors, even print cover. Now there is an offer to buy a corresponding size ZonLi duvet cover together with the weighted blanket to enjoy a 30% discount.
Calmforter Weighted Blanket is a premium weighted blanket, not suitable for budget customers. It is designed and stocked in the US. The price you will pay has included the blanket cover, which was not covered by most of the other weighted blanket sellers. You can choose from 7 different colors.
Harkla Kids Weighted Blanket (7lbs) is designed for children weighing from 40 to 70 lbs. The price includes a duvet cover and a weighted blanket. If you are worried that your kids will often contaminate it after daily use, it is super easy to wash with this 2-piece duvet style removable cover. They add dots on top for extra sensory input making it a great sensory blanket for seekers.
Quility Premium Adult Weighted Blanket offers 12 to 25 lbs weight for 110 lbs to 280 lbs adults. It is using breathable cotton fabric as the top layer with extra two polyester layers to prevent tears and the leakage of the beads. If for any reason you’re unhappy with Quility weighted blanket, they do offer a full refund.
Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket is using nano-ceramic bead technology making the blanket more durable and comfortable. Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket is also perfect for hot and cold sleepers. It includes 2 duvet covers: One cover is a cozy, warm Fleece material to keep you toasty in the winter, the other cover is made of CoolMax Microfiber technology to ventilate heat away from your body in the summer. It offers a one-year money back guarantee.
What To Look for in a Weighted Blanket
Find something that works for you! Most companies will have a trial period where you can return the product if it doesn’t jive with your body but the general rule of thumb is 10% of your bodyweight. Start there and scale up or down, depending on your comfort level.
Materials can vary widely. For the blanket itself, you have choices between flannel, cotton, or synthetic fabrics. For the filling, different companies use different options, including plastic pellets, beans, rice, sand, and glass beads. Keep in mind that it tends to be easier to clean a blanket packed with plastic pellets!
Make sure you get something that fits for you! The last thing you want is a blanket designed to wrap around you that just doesn’t quite do the job. Weighted blankets usually come in sizes that mirror standard bed sizes — queen, full, etc.
Should You Invest in a Weighted Blanket?
While it’s up to your personal preferences and opinion whether or not you want to invest in a weighted blanket, the science doesn’t lie — in this stressful world, if you can take one more thing off your mind and get a better night of deeper sleep, you’ll do yourself a world of good. If you regularly use melatonin supplements, a weighted blanket could be the key to helping you get back on track with natural melatonin production. Though a few people find them to be uncomfortable or off-putting, it’s certainly worth a shot. Cuddle up, get comfortable, and sink into your bed, compressed under a weight that’s proven to help you relax.