Once a niche product, weighted blankets are now a popular way to get a better night’s sleep. These blankets are filled with plastic pellets and usually weigh between four and 25 pounds.
They were originally developed to help calm people who suffer from autism, attention problems, and anxiety. But with effective marketing and an explosion in the number of companies producing them, weighted blankets have now become mainstream. TIME magazine even named a product with the brand name Gravity Blanket one of the “Best Inventions of 2018.”
Gaby Badre, M.D., Ph.D., is the medical director of a sleep disorder clinic in Sweden as well as an associate professor at the University of Gothenburg. He explained to Psychology Today how the blankets work. “The pressure provides a reassuring and cocooning feeling.” And when you move, the filling within the blankets produces a soothing sensation. “This tactile stimulation, amplified by movements, even if small, may be the equivalent of a caress,” says Badre. It’s believed that this activity stimulates the release of the neurotransmitters that act to decrease anxiety.
You can expect to pay between $30 to $250 and over for a weighted blanket, but people who benefit from them say that it’s well worth the cost. One Amazon reviewer named Chelsea had this to share about her blanket. “My husband bought me this for Christmas and I’m in love with it. It helps me fall asleep faster, and has already pulled me out of an anxiety attack. It’s just like laying under a big hug and it’s awesome.”
One caution: weighted blankets are not safe for babies, and young children need to be supervised while using them.