What Are Weighted Blankets? Benefits & How They Work

We have talked a lot about sleep hygiene. One of the methods that are often used by many people and recommended by sleep experts such as Dr Jin W. Sung is using weighted blankets.

But what really are weighted blankets? 

We have compiled the following items in this article:

  • What are Weighted Blankets?
  • How much do they weigh?
  • What is inside a weighted blanket?
  • How do weighted blankets work?
  • How much do they cost?
  • What are the benefits of weighted blankets?

What Are Weighted Blankets?

Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets that are slightly heavier than regular blankets and serve a scientifically proven role in stress and anxiety relief. They derive the weight from fillings, often plastic pellets or glass beads. 

The additional weight helps to generate a calming effect when one is sleeping.

How do they achieve the calming effect?

Interestingly, weighted blankets act like a hug on your skin. This technique is known as deep pressure stimulation (DSP). The stimulation makes the sleeper feel relaxed and secure as it exerts a bit of pressure on the body.

Your nervous system responds to the pressure from the blanket by releasing feel-good hormones for relaxation.

Origins of weighted blankets: It is also important to understand how weighted blankets came about. Temple Grandin, an American scientist came up with deep pressure therapy as she searched for how to ease anxiety among autistic children. 

Grandin came up with a hugging machine that applied a little bit of pressure to the body. While using the machine, she noticed that her patients produced more oxytocin.

Based on Grandin’s research, scientists borrowed the principles to develop weighted blankets, which takes us to the next question:

RELATED: How To Wash a Weighted Blanket with Glass Beads

Who Invented Weighted Blankets?

Keith Zivalich, invented the weighted blanket, in 1997 but the first therapeutic use was in 1999. Decades later, weighted blankets are now a global phenomenon among people who want to experience calmer sleep.

Some of the earliest uses of weighted blankets were reported in 1999 when Tina Champagne, an occupational therapist, used them to help her patients overcome symptoms of mental illnesses. 

How Much Do Weighted Blankets Weigh?

They weigh between 5 and 30 pounds. The recommended weight for weighted blankets should be 10-15% of your body weight but this can vary significantly between individual sleepers. Also, personal preference plays a critical role in the weight.

Besides, you will have to give yourself about 7-10 days to get used to using this type of blanket. 

The general rules of weight to ensure the best deep pressure stimulation include the following:

  1. Weighing between 5 and 30 pounds.
  2. Adults to use weighted blankets that weigh 12-30 pounds (medium-large).
  3. Children weigh between 20 and 70 pounds to use weighted blankets 3-8 pounds heavy (small blanket).
  4. Older adults could use either small or medium-weighted blankets between 5-8 pounds.

We’ve talked a lot about weight but what gives these blankets their weight? What’s inside them?

What is Inside a Weighted Blanket?

Any typical weighted blanket is comprised of a fabric blanket segmented into small sections and filled with plastic pellets or small beads. Plastic-filled blankets are usually less expensive, but they are bulkier, and some users want to avoid plastics, mainly because of personal or environmental reasons. 

Glass and metal are assumed to be less prone to produce allergic responses, and their basic density means that less volume is required to obtain the same weight.

Toxic materials, for instance, lead beads, are often not used in weighted blankets.

How Weighted Blankets Work

How do weighted blankets work?

how do weighted blankets work

This is how they work: A weighted blanket will provide continual afferent stimulation. Weight receptors in our skin get stimulated, which subsequently impact neurotransmitters in the brain. The stimulation, therefore, will increase the production of Serotonin and Dopamine while decreasing Cortisol and Seizures. 

Once all that has occurred, a signal is sent to the heart to decrease heart rate. 

That is how weighted blankets can help people with anxiety or autism spectrum disorder. 

Simplified, weighted blankets provide users with a form of deep pressure therapy that enhances the production of good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin in our brains. These chemicals increase happiness, calmness, and improve a person’s well-being.

All these biological changes set the stage for great night sleep.

How much do Weighted Blankets Cost?

There are several places where you can find weighted blankets at costs ranging between $30 and $300 depending on size and fabric quality.

Here are a few places where you can find weighted blankets:

  • Mosaic. Mosaic carries a full line of weighted blankets for every age. Mosaic weighted blankets start at roughly $80.
  • Gravity. Gravity carries weighted blankets that start at around $195.
  • SensaCalm. SensaCalm carries premade and custom weighted blankets. SensaCalm weighted blankets start around $100.
  • Layla. Layla specializes in mattresses and pillows, but they also carry a weighted blanket that starts at $169.

Can Weighted Blankets Affect Sleep?

According to Dr Jin Sung, weighted blankets can affect sleep, but they are usually not meant for everybody. There are only a certain group of individuals that can benefit from using this type of blanket.

Some of the benefits of weighted blankets he lists in his YouTube video include the following:

  • Studies have shown that weighted blankets could help people with anxiety manage their sleep better.
  • The blankets have positive impacts on falling asleep.
  • Using weighted blankets minimizes tossing and turning.

The only thing you need to have in mind is to choose a natural fabric such as cotton rather than synthetic materials.