Weighted blankets have seen a lot of mainstream success within the last decade, but they’ve been around for much longer: Occupational therapists began studying the effects of weighted blankets and weighted vests on children with sensory processing disorders and on the autism spectrum in the early 2000s, and studies looking at the therapeutic effects of weighted blankets on mental health patients date even earlier.
Studies show that weighted blankets — which are typically filled with small glass or plastic beads to add weight — can help you sleep better, reduce anxiety and relieve stress. Although experts told us the extent of a weighted blanket’s efficacy varies person to person, it can have both positive physical and psychological effects to help calm you down. To help you decide whether a weighted blanket is right for you, we spoke to sleep medicine and occupational therapy experts on the potential benefits of weighted blankets, who should (and shouldn’t) use them and how to shop for one. We also highlighted some weighted blanket options to shop that have been tested by Consumer Reports’ test engineers.
What is a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets look a lot like a typical blanket, comforter or duvet insert that you’d throw on your bed or couch. But instead of cotton, polyfill or feathers, they’re filled with glass or plastic beads to add weight (most have individual quilted squares so the beads won’t shift when you turn or move in your sleep). They can also feature loops on the corners to attach to your duvet cover.
The weights of these blankets vary by manufacturer, but they usually range anywhere from 3 to 30 pounds. Generally, you should look for a weighted blanket that’s about 10% of your body weight, according to Dr. Seema Khosla, medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep.
5 best weighted blankets in 2022
Experts told us a weighted blanket should provide multiple weight options to fit the 10% body weight limit, feature a machine-washable and breathable cover and offer a return policy that lets you trial the blanket before committing to it. With this guidance in mind, we rounded up five highly rated weighted blankets that were tested and recommended by Consumer Reports engineers.
Baloo Living’s Weighted Blanket features glass beads and comes in various sizes, ranging from a mini 9-pound version to a 25-pound option sized for a King or California King mattress. I own the 12-pound throw blanket, which fits snugly on my couch and offers a comfortable weight when I’m relaxing in the evening.
The blanket is made with a 100% cotton exterior and interior, and it’s both machine-washable and dryer-safe, according to the brand (although it recommends using a commercial washing machine for the largest 25-pound blanket). The blanket also features small loops sewn into the seams at the sides and corners to connect to a duvet cover, and it’s available in colors like Pebble White and Clay.
The Gravity Blanket features a machine-washable micro-plush duvet cover and an inner weighted piece filled with glass beads that can be hand-washed only. The inner weighted blanket also has gridded stitching to ensure the beads are uniformly distributed and don’t shift as you move around, according to the brand. The Gravity Blanket is offered in three sizes — 15, 20 and 35 pounds — and three colors: Grey, Navy and White.
The Luna Weighted Blanket is offered in three different sizes for a Full, Queen or King bed and, depending on the size you choose, the blanket’s weight ranges from 12 pounds to 30 pounds. The brand says the blanket can be washed in cold water on a gentle setting and can be tumble dried on low heat. Luna’s weighted blanket does not come with a cover, but the brand offers one that you can purchase separately. It’s sold in over a dozen colors, including Pink, Lavender and Tie Dye.
For a kid-friendly option, this 5-pound weighted blanket from Harkla comes with an inner weighted layer and a removable fleece duvet cover that the brand says can be machine-washed in cold water and put in the dryer at a low setting. Harkla also offers a 7-pound, 10-pound and 15-pound version of the blanket for older kids and adults, and it comes in three colors: blue, purple and grey.
This YnM Weighted Blanket is another option that doesn’t come with a cover, but the brand does sell some separately, including a cotton cover and cooling cover. YnM says the blanket is both machine-washable and dryer-safe, but it recommends washing the duvet cover rather than the inner blanket since frequent washing can cause wear and tear. It’s offered in an array of sizes ranging from 7 pounds to 30 pounds and in multiple colors.
What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
The weighted blanket is predominantly based on the idea of deep pressure stimulation, which uses gentle pressure to help induce a feeling of calm and release serotonin. While experts told us the data behind the effectiveness of weighted blankets is sparse, some small and more individualized studies have shown they can reduce insomnia in certain patients, and other studies show they can serve as a therapeutic tool to help reduce anxiety.
“Some people find the pressure they provide to be soothing, like a hug or a massage,” said Lynelle Schneeberg, board-certified sleep psychologist and author of “Become Your Child's Sleep Coach.”
Khosla told us that weighted blankets can help people feel more centered and give them a distraction, especially if they have trouble falling asleep. “It lets them focus on something else or isolate their thoughts on the feeling of something on top of them,” she said. For example, a 2016 study found that subjects undergoing wisdom tooth removal — which the researchers identified as one of the most stressful medical procedures — showed more activity in the part of the nervous system that is in control during times of low stress when they wore weighted blankets during the procedure.
Our experts agreed the effectiveness of a weighted blanket varies based on the person. “Our bodies respond to things differently — what works for one person may not work the same for the next,” said Michael Urban, senior lecturer and director of the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of New Haven. He noted that weighted blankets in rare cases can cause certain people to feel overstimulated when they’re used for hours at a time, which can ultimately offset the benefits.
“While it does help get your mind to a more relaxed state, there are some people where it could have counter effects,” said Urban. “You may not know until you try it.”
Other limitations include the price (most cost anywhere from $50 to upwards of $200) and the lack of portability. “If you become very used to the feeling of sleeping under them, you may want to bring them along when you travel and that can be an issue if the blanket is unwieldy, heavy or bulky,” said Schneeberg.
Are weighted blankets safe?
Our experts agreed that weighted blankets are safe as long as they’re used properly and the weight isn’t too much. They’re not recommended for adults with respiratory, circulatory, mobility or temperature regulation issues since these blankets can get fairly hot, according to Schneeberg. Khosla added that adults with neuromuscular disorders that physically can’t lift a heavy blanket should also avoid them.
Can kids safely use a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets can help children with disorders like autism and ADHD, according to Schneeberg, who noted some kids can benefit from compression, either from weighted blankets or stretchy sleeping bags that can provide deep pressure. In fact, a small 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.
Weighted blankets are generally safe for kids to use regularly, as long as the child “has no mobility issues and can manage the blanket independently,” meaning they can tuck it in and replace it if it moves out of place or falls off of the bed, said Schneeberg. And the typical 10% of body weight requirement still applies to children, “so they aren’t recommended for very young children, and certainly not for babies,” she added.
How to shop for a weighted blanket
Both Khosla and Urban told us that trialing a weighted blanket before making a final decision is typically a good call, especially since many weighted blanket brands offer a 30-day return policy. Our experts also recommended a few additional features to consider when choosing a weighted blanket.
One of the most important factors to consider is the weight of the blanket. While 10% of your body weight is recommended, it’s ultimately based on personal preference and you should ensure that “movement and breathing are not impaired,” said Alex Dimitriu, board-certified psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at SiliconPsych.
Khosla also recommended starting with a low weight — around 5 pounds or less — to see how it feels. “Don’t invest a lot of money in your first one and just try it if you're taking a nap or relaxing in the evening while reading or watching TV — if you love it, you can always upgrade to a better one for the bedroom,” she said.
The quicker our core body temperature drops, the quicker we can fall asleep, so overheating at night can disrupt your overall sleep quality, Khosla said. Since the pressure created by a weighted blanket can make it feel warmer than a typical blanket, Dimitriu recommended looking for one that features a cover made from a breathable fabric — like cotton or linen — to help your body cool off at night and facilitate deep and restorative sleep.
In addition to a breathable fabric, a removable and washable cover can help your blanket last. While some blankets already come with a machine-washable cover, others (like those with loops that attach to a duvet cover) may require you to purchase one separately.