By Catherine Hanes
Weighted blankets have skyrocketed in popularity thanks to their ability to relieve stress and improve sleep. Everyone LOVES sleep, right? Weighted blankets can offer the feeling of being hugged, which according to numerous experts may result in calming effects.
Thanks to high stress levels and a brain that wouldn’t shut off, I was in desperate search of a way to get a better night’s rest. I’m a serial tosser-and-turner, and it’s often difficult for me to fall — and stay — asleep because I’m constantly thinking about what I have to tackle on my to-do list the next day. I wanted to find an all-natural, non-medication or drug remedy as well. The vicious cycle often leaves me feeling completely drained in the morning.
After weeks of seeing weighted blanket ads pop up in my social feeds, I decided to give the trend a try. Weighted blankets have seen a surge in popularity, with many proponents saying they have stress-, anxiety- and insomnia-relieving effects. According to Pinterest, saves for weighted blankets were up a whopping 259 percent in 2018. Over the holidays, Google released its annual gift guide featuring 100 of the most popular products worth gifting, which included weighted blankets. The search engine also noted there was a 79-percent increase in search for chunky blankets.
So with DREAMality's 15-pound weighted blanket in hand (which is the size the brand recommends for people who are between 100-150 pounds), I got into bed, hopeful but nervous. I was worried that the blanket would be restrictive and too hot (disrupting my already patchy sleep), but I was able to turn onto my side pretty easily, and it didn’t cause me to overheat. (Now, I probably won’t use a weighted blanket on 90-degree nights, but it was totally fine on a 70-degree night.)
When I slipped under the blanket, I felt like I was wrapped in a cocoon, as if the blanket were hugging me. (That feeling of being hugged is what Irina Zhdanova, MD, CEO of ClockCoach, told me was likely responsible for any calming effects.) Although it was possible for me to shift onto my side, the blanket was definitely more snug than my regular comforter, and I felt like it encouraged my body to stay still. Normally, I’m pretty restless in bed, and the act of moving around makes my mind wander. But, because I couldn’t physically move as much, I noticed that my thoughts weren’t racing as much either. I was able to just focus on the present, and that made it easier to fall asleep. I didn’t wake up once in the middle of the night, which is very rare for me, and after seven hours of solid sleep I felt so refreshed that I didn’t even need to stop for my iced coffee on the way to the office.
But is there really any concrete evidence to support my seemingly better sleep experience? Or was it all in my head? Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!
Unlike other weighted blankets that are filled with polyester batting, DREAMality's weighted blanket uses tiny glass beads to provide a gentle compression. It comes in various weights (10 lbs, 15 lbs, 20 lbs, 25 lbs) that depend on your depending on your body weight). Other than the multiple weight options, the blanket is also available in queen and king bed sizes. An added bonus, the weighted quilt is machine washable.
Weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like — they’re heavy blankets (typically 15 pounds or more) filled with a material such as plastic pellets or glass beads. The theory is that the deep pressure you feel from being under all of that weight has a calming effect.
The deep pressure of the blanket makes you feel like you’re being hugged or swaddled, explained Zhdanova. “Being hugged is a very powerful stimulus,” she said. “When you’re hugged, you feel more secure.” Plus, weighted blankets offer mild restraint, said Zhdanova — they make it harder for you to move and thus harder for you to disturb yourself while you sleep.
For a study published in the “Journal of the Formosan Medical Association,” participants undergoing wisdom tooth removal (which the researchers identified as one of the most stressful medical procedures) wore weighted blankets during their surgeries. Under the weighted blankets, the patients showed more activity in the part of the nervous system that is in control during times of low stress.
One of the most popular uses for weighted blankets is for treating children with disorders like autism and ADHD. “It’s absolutely true that some kids benefit from compression, either from weighted blankets or stretchy Lycra sleeping bags [which also provide deep pressure],” said Lynelle Schneeberg, board-certified sleep psychologist and director of the behavioral sleep program at Connecticut Children's Medical Center. A study published in “The American Journal of Occupational Therapy” found that elementary school-aged students who wore weighted vests paid attention more and fidgeted less in class.
That being said, there are a few cons to weighted blankets, especially when it comes to having kids use them. They’re heavy, which makes them hard to travel with, they can get hot, and it can prove difficult for children to use them on their own without parents there. “When parents ask me about weighted blankets, I ask if their child can put it on, arrange it and tuck themselves in,” said Schneeberg.
Comments will be approved before showing up.