3 Health Benefits of Sleeping with a Weighted Blanket
What are the benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket? On a cold winter’s night, you want to stay warm, snug, and secure.
A weighted blanket is designed to insulate while adding extra weight beyond what a typical blanket offers.
No wonder they’re all the rage! These blankets are growing in popularity as a way to relieve stress while getting a good night’s sleep. The weight comes from pellets inside the lining that give the blanket more weight. The extra weight ranges from 5 to 30 additional pounds.
Plus, these blankets often contain extra layers of fabric, making them warmer than your average blanket.
Before investing in a weighted blanket, you might wonder whether they have benefits and what those benefits might be.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Having more weight on your body adds a sense of security, but it goes beyond making you feel snug.
Studies show that sleeping on a weighted blanket may lower the stress hormone cortisol.
Why is this important? When you’re anxious or stressed, your body pumps out more cortisol. Although cortisol has benefits, for example, it helps your body mobilize energy, it also has drawbacks. Over time, high cortisol can lead to bone loss, infertility, and increase the risk of infection.
Can a weighted blanket help ease stress and tension?
A weighted blanket helps ground your body to the earth and that’s beneficial for stress relief.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that grounding the body during sleep helps better synchronize cortisol release and lowers cortisol levels at night.
Insomnia is one of the most common chronic health conditions that people suffer from and seek treatment for. Yet prescription medications for sleep have significant side effects, and some are habit-forming.
Could a weighted blanket be a natural but effective alternative for those who suffer from problems falling or staying asleep?
A small study found that using a weighted blanket increased total sleep time and improved sleep quality.
The participants also felt more awake and alert in the morning after a night of sleeping with a weighted blanket. The weight of a heavier blanket creates feelings of security that make it easier to drift off to sleep. Plus, research shows that the pressure a weighted blanket provides reduces feelings of arousal and wakefulness that keep people from falling asleep.
Yet not all studies show that weighted blankets decrease insomnia.
According to a review carried out by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy that looked at multiple studies, weighted blankets are best for relieving anxiety and the benefits for insomnia need more research.
However, if anxiety keeps you awake at night, a weighted blanket may be a safe solution for the problem, especially when you consider the risks of sleep medications.
May Help Kids with ADHD
There’s some evidence that kids with ADHD benefit from weighted blankets.
One theory is that the weight of the blanket increases the release of serotonin from the brain and nervous system.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or brain chemical, that has a calming effect on the body and helps create a sense of restful satisfaction. However, weighted blankets are for older children, not infants or toddlers.
The Bottom Line
If you invest in a weighted blanket, buy it from a reputable manufacturer.
To get the benefits, you want the weight to be distributed evenly across the blanket.
Also, the weight that works for one person may be too light or heavy for another. So, it may take experimentation to determine what weight is right for you.
Still, a weighted blanket could be just what you need to feel more secure and get a better night’s sleep.
- Maurice Ghaly and Dale Teplitz.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Oct 2004.767-776. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2004.10.767.
- Ackerley R, Badre G, Olausson H. Positive effects of a weighted blanket on insomnia. J Sleep Med Disord. 2015;2(3):1022.
- Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. Ackerley R1,2, Badre G1,2* and Olausson H1,2,3. Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. SDS Clinic, ESRS accredited Sleep Research Laboratory, Gothenburg, Sweden. Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Linköping, Sweden.
- PennMedicine.org. “More Than Just a Fad: 4 Ways Weighted Blankets Can Actually Help You”
- American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 2020, Vol. 74, 7402205010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.037358.
- Understood.org. “Weighted Blankets and ADHD: What You Need to Know”
- Schaaf RC, Benevides T, Mailloux Z, Faller P, Hunt J, van Hooydonk E, Freeman R, Leiby B, Sendecki J, Kelly D. An intervention for sensory difficulties in children with autism: a randomized trial. J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 Jul;44(7):1493-506. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1983-8.