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Thanks to high stress levels and a brain that wouldn’t shut off, I was in search of a way to get a better night’s rest (without having to resort to drugs). 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. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves me feeling completely drained in the morning.
SKIP AHEAD: Other weighted blankets to consider
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. The hype is palpable: Gravity Blanket racked up more than $4 million on its Kickstarter campaign in 2017, and 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 Rocabi'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.)
Because I couldn’t physically move as much, I noticed that my thoughts weren’t racing as much either.
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 office.
But is there really any concrete evidence to support my seemingly better sleep experience? Or was it all in my head?
How weighted blankets work: benefits and limitations
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. 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 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. She prefers Lycra sleeping bags for children, which are available on Etsy and Amazon, because they’re lighter, more portable and easier to use.
How to pick the best weighted blanket for you
If you are going to try a weighted a blanket, keep in mind that they can get pricey. A 20-pound Gravity Blanket, for example, costs $189. (If you’re crafty, Schneeberg says you can DIY your own version — here’s a DIY weighted blanket tutorial.)
Committed to shelling out some cash? Zhdanova recommends sticking with a weighted blanket on the lighter side. Most experts advise choosing one that’s roughly 10 percent of your body weight — so if you’re 150 pounds, you should buy a 15-pound blanket. Zhdanova notes that you shouldn’t use a weighted blanket if you snore or have sleep apnea, because anything that is placed on your chest can disrupt your breathing even further.
But if stress, a mile-long to-do list and funneling caffeine to get through the day is the battle you're fighting, a weighted blanket may just help you put those sleepless nights behind you.
Other weighted blankets to consider
As the coronavirus continues to surge across the country this winter, many of us may be feeling increasingly anxious and stressed out. And with extra time at home, we may be looking for new ways to relax as we enter the new year. With that in mind, we rounded up seven other weighted blankets worth considering in 2021.
The previously mentioned Gravity Blanket is highly-rated and available in four sizes: 15, 20, 25 and 35 pounds. According to a 2019 sleep study, 72 percent of the participants using the Gravity Blanket reported more restful sleep and 76 percent said they were able to fall asleep faster. Aside from this Grey option, the blanket also comes in navy and white.
The Casper Weighted Blanket is throw-sized, meaning you can use it in bed or take it with you to the couch. It features a polyester batting fill and inner liner, and a breathable cotton outer shell to keep you cool while you sleep. It also sports quilted channels to evenly distribute the microbead fill.
Last fall, Bearaby introduced its velvet weighted blanket made from recycled marine plastic. According to Bearaby, this blanket boasts an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, meaning it was independently tested and is free of harmful substances. It's available in three weights — 15, 20 and 25 pounds — and five colors ranging from a rich, jewel-toned emerald to a demure rose quartz.
If you live somewhere warm during the winter or find that you sweat easily at night, opt for a cooling model, such as this bestselling weighted blanket instead. It's available in a plethora of sizes to fit your shopping needs, ranging from five pounds that's light enough for small children to a 30-pound blanket, which fits a king-sized bed, such as the Casper Original Foam Mattress.
Are you shopping for an eco-friendly weighted blanket this winter? Baloo's offering is made from Oeko-TEX certified cotton and was recently named one of the best eco-friendly weighted blankets of 2020. The highly-rated quilted weighted blanket is filled with micro-sized glass beads, which helps evenly disperse the weight. It's available in four sizes: 12, 15, 20 and 25 pounds, plus for added protection and comfort, you can order the linen duvet cover, which is also made in three sizes.
Saatva's diamond-quilted weighted blanket is made from soft, organic cotton velvet and manufactured at Fair Trade-certified factories, according to the brand. It's stuffed with glass beads, which is considered a higher-end and eco-friendly filling for weighted blankets. Choose between two size options —15 and 25 pounds — along with two colors: graphite vintage velvet, a deep grey, and taupe vintage velvet, a neutral khaki.
You don't have to splurge on a weighted blanket, unless you're willing and able to, of course. While most blankets featured on this list will set you back hundreds of dollars, you can order a well-made weighted blanket that costs under $45, depending on the size you choose. Tranquility, a popular brand among BETTER readers, created an affordable, temperature-regulated weighted blanket, meaning it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Plus, you can order it at various weights between 12 and 20 pounds.
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