Some people believe that using a weighted blanket when they sleep can help reduce stress and promote calm.
“In the same way as a hug or a baby’s swaddle, the gentle pressure of a weighted blanket may help ease symptoms and improve sleep for people with insomnia, anxiety or autism,” according to SleepFoundation.org, which is based in Seattle.
Weighted blankets can be used on a bed, a sofa or anywhere that someone wants to relax under the accessory.
But what exactly are they — and what’s at work with weighted blankets?
Here’s a deeper dive into the topic, with the help of experts.
What exactly is a weighed blanket?
Weighted blankets are heavier than typical blankets.
There are generally two kinds of weighted blankets: knitted and duvet style, according to SleepFoundation.org.
Duvet-style weighted blankets add weight using plastic or glass beads, ball bearings or other heavy fill — whereas knitted weighted blankets are woven using dense yarn, the same source noted.
What’s the right way to use a weighted blanket?
The weight of the blanket should be about 10% of your body weight.
That’s according to Sean Ormond, M.D., a dual board-certified physician in anesthesiology and interventional pain management with Atlas Pain Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.
“If you are unsure of what weight to choose, start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight as needed,” Ormond told Fox News Digital.
What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
There are indeed wellness benefits of weighted blankets, said Kien Vuu, M.D., a Los Angeles-based physician specializing in radiology who possesses an understanding of the physiological and psychological aspects of sleep and stress management and is founder of Vuu MD Performance and Longevity.
These benefits include the following.
Improved sleep quality. Weighted blankets provide gentle, even pressure across the body, a sensation known as deep pressure stimulation, said Dr. Vuu.
“This sensation can help increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and sleep,” he said.
A study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders suggested that weighted blankets can help people with insomnia by improving sleep time and reducing movements during sleep, he said.
The deep pressure stimulation from weighted blankets can also have a calming effect, reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increasing oxytocin, the comfort hormone.
Reduction of anxiety and stress. The deep pressure stimulation from weighted blankets can also have a calming effect, reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increasing oxytocin, the comfort hormone, Vuu told Fox News Digital.
“These hormonal benefits can be particularly beneficial for individuals with anxiety, PTSD or sensory processing disorders,” he said.
A study in the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health journal found that weighted blankets resulted in lower anxiety levels in adults, Vuu said.
So who should use weighted blankets?
Although weighted blankets can be beneficial, the use of them should be done with care in mind.
Children. While weighted blankets can be beneficial for children, especially those with anxiety or sensory processing issues, it’s crucial to choose the right weight, Vuu cautioned.
“Generally, a weighted blanket for a child should be around 10% of their body weight plus a pound or two,” he continued.
“It’s essential to ensure the child can remove the blanket independently to avoid any risk of suffocation,” he also said.
Older adults. For senior adults, particularly those with chronic health conditions such as osteoporosis or respiratory issues, caution is advised.
“The additional weight might pose a risk for those with fragile bones or difficulty breathing,” Vuu warned. “It’s important to consult with a health care provider before an elderly person uses a weighted blanket.”
Should some people avoid weighted blankets?
Individuals with certain conditions, indicated Vuu, should avoid using a weighted blanket.
- Those with respiratory conditions such as asthma or sleep apnea, as the extra weight may make breathing more difficult
- People with claustrophobia, who may feel trapped or anxious under a weighted blanket
- Individuals with mobility issues, as they may struggle to adjust the blanket independently
So, while weighted blankets have the potential to offer wellness benefits, especially in terms of improving sleep quality and reducing anxiety, it’s essential to consider the individual’s health status and personal needs when deciding to use one, said Vuu.
“For specific groups such as children, the elderly or those with certain health conditions, consulting with a health care provider is advisable to ensure safety and effectiveness,” he said.