If you struggle to get good, quality sleep, you’re not alone. More than one-third of Americans have reported that they do not get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1). So what is enough sleep? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults ages 18 to 60 years get at least seven hours of sleep each night (2).
If you feel like you’ve tried everything to help yourself, maybe it’s time to go a little rogue and opt for the potential benefits of a weighted blanket.
“We are programmed to respond positively to uniform pressure,” says Chris Winter, MD, neurologist, sleep specialist, and author of The Rested Child and The Sleep Solution. “When a baby is born, you swaddle it. It’s like a hug, which creates gentle pressure—just like weighted blankets.”
Weighted Blanket Benefits
Dr. Winter further explains that this pressure can be calming because it works by putting your autonomic nervous system into “rest” mode. Weighted blankets may help improve your sleep.
A study (3) published in 2020 in the journal Sleep, the official publication of the Sleep Research Society, found a percentage of participants who had previously reported issues with both falling and staying asleep noted improved sleep quality and falling asleep quicker after just six weeks of using a weighted blanket.
A small study (4) published in Occupational Therapy International found that the added pressure of a weighted blanket may help calm breathing and reduce your heart rate, both of which promote relaxation, which makes sleep easier to come by.
Not only can weighted blankets improve your sleep, but they may also be a great tool for daily use if you struggle with anxiety, according to eight studies published in 2020 in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (5). Another study (6) published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine observed the benefits of weighted blanket use in participants with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; after four weeks, a significant number of participants reported reduced daytime symptoms of fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
What to Look for in a Weighted Blanket
When shopping for a weighted blanket, keep in mind they come in many different weights. According to the Sleep Foundation, you should choose one that weighs roughly ten percent of your body weight.
A few things to consider when choosing the right weighted blanket for you include:
- Materials: The material of weighted blankets can range from lighter, breathable fabrics like bamboo and cotton, to more plush options like fleece and microfiber. Check washing instructions, as many weighted blankets may not be machine-washable.
- Filling: Pay attention to what your blanket is filled with. Many weighted blankets have plastic polyester pellets or glass beads.
- Size: Sizes can range from lap-size (48″x24″) to King-size (86”x92”). Choose the size that works best for where you will use it.