Better Sleep And Beyond: A Look At The Top Weighted Blanket Benefits
From improved sleep and happier moods, to calming down an anxious mind, let’s look at the many benefits of using a weighted blanket.
There are many benefits that come from using a weighted blanket, ranging from improved sleep to calming down an anxious mind. Weighted blankets are like a warm hug for your whole body, and they also have health benefits that are backed by science.
Weighted blankets use the simple science of improving the production of healthy hormones that regulate our mood and sleep patterns.
Increasing pressure on the body, which is what the blanket does with its extra weight, produces these hormones. Let’s dive into the details behind these benefits, and cover off on some commonly asked questions about weighted blankets.
How does a weighted blanket work?
Weighted blankets work by placing something called "Deep Touch Pressure" on the body. This type of pressure stimulation (similar to a hug) brings about a sense of calm and well-being. The weight causes a natural shift in our bodies' hormones, upping feelings of relaxation, lowering stress, and improving our sleep cycles.
Let's look in a bit more detail about the ways a weighted blanket benefits your mind, body, and overall health.
Weighted blankets can help reduce anxiety
Weighted blankets may help with reducing the symptoms of anxiety, as Deep Touch Pressure has been shown to promote calmness and reduce anxiety.
One study found that 63% of people who used a weighted blanket reported lowered anxiety after use. Deep touch pressure affects the part of our nervous system that controls breathing and heart rate. Using this type of deep pressure stimulation can help to regulate both of those processes, which in turn, reduces those anxious feelings.
The increased pressure on certain points of the body can lead to an increased production of serotonin, which is your body’s “feel-good” hormone. The combination of increased serotonin production and deep touch pressure contributes to an overall feeling of relaxation and calmness when using a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets reduce cortisol levels
Similarly, weighted blankets can reduce cortisol levels. One study we've looked into is called The Biologic Effects of Grounding the Human Body During Sleep as Measured by Cortisol Levels and Subjective Reporting of Sleep, Pain, and Stress. The study hypothesized that grounding the human body would result in changes in sleep, pain, and stress (anxiety, depression, irritability), as measured by subjective reporting.
The study results showed measurable improvements in cortisol levels of the participants, with cortisol levels significantly reduced during night-time sleep.
Cortisol is the “stress hormone” and is often elevated in people with anxiety. It's also known as the “fight or flight” hormone, and has been very helpful throughout human history to keep us safe. It’s totally normal for cortisol to be released in certain stressful situations - say, getting chased by a tiger - however, chronically high cortisol levels are becoming more common in today’s modern society.
While we aren’t often put in chased-by-tiger situations, we do have other daily stressors that keep our cortisol levels higher than they should be, such as getting stuck in a traffic jam or dealing with some family drama.
High cortisol levels are linked to various health problems, so anything we can do to keep that cortisol in check is a good thing!
Weighted blankets help with insomnia
If you’re one of the 30% of American adults who suffer from insomnia, you know how much a good night’s sleep matters. Some people will do just about anything to sleep better, but at Bearaby we're all about natural, drug-free, solutions that you can accomplish at your own pace.
Some people with insomnia symptoms may have trouble falling asleep, while others may have trouble with staying asleep throughout the night. A weighted blanket may help with both of those dysfunctions in sleep patterns.
Studies have shown that people who use a weighted blanket have improvements in sleep quality and overall sleep time. This research article, Positive effects of a weighted blanket on insomnia, shows that the application of deep pressure, through weighted vests and blankets, has been reported to produce a calming and relaxing effect in clinical conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and pervasive developmental disorders.
How do weighted blankets help sleep quality?
The mechanism behind this is similar to that of reducing anxiety. As the weighted blanket applies deep touch pressure, your body produces more serotonin. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, which is our body's main sleep hormone. Melatonin tells your body it’s time to relax and get to sleep.
One study done on college students found that using a weighted blanket benefits both sleep quality and anxiety symptoms.
Weighted blankets are one of the easiest ways to improve your sleep cycles. Under the deep pressure of a weighted blanket, your brain is naturally cued to release stress and fall into sleep mode.
Weighted blankets can help with Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) affects more than 12 million people in the United States per year, and can easily transform from a minor annoyance to a condition that significantly decreases quality of life.
The fact that there are no tried-and-tested, successful treatments for RLS can feel disheartening for people who suffer from it, but some simple self-care solutions and lifestyle changes have been shown to relieve symptoms, including the use of weighted blankets.
What is RLS?
RLS is a neurological condition that can be described by an uncomfortable, unpleasant, and uncontrollable urge to move or twitch the legs. When consumed by these symptoms, people have a hard time sleeping and may be at increased risk for depression.
Many people with RLS only have symptoms at night, or when trying to fall asleep. There is no known cure for RLS, but many things can help, including weighted blankets.
The deep touch pressure that a weighted blanket provides can cause RLS symptoms to subside, which helps improve sleep quality. Some studies have linked RLS to anxiety, so this may be another reason why weighted blankets can help.
Deep touch pressure from a weighted blanket benefits both physically and psychologically, which is perfect for someone with RLS.
Weighted blankets can improve our mood
For the past 60 years, occupational therapists have been using weighted blankets to treat patients with a range of symptoms, including those with sensory processing disorders. The calming effect of using weight on the body may help our mental health in a variety of ways.
The hand-knitted weaves of our Bearaby weighted blanket–The Napper–completely cocoons your body, producing a “hugging effect” that promotes the release of serotonin, that stress-relieving chemical produced by our nerve cells.
Serotonin has a huge impact on both our overall sense of wellbeing and the quality of our sleep. Weighted blankets can help us supercharge our serotonin levels naturally.
Increased serotonin not only promotes feelings of calmness, it also leads to the release of more melatonin, our sleep hormone. This chemical flood helps you quickly calm down and drift off into dreamland.
Serotonin is often referred to as our “happy hormone". When we experience a serotonin hit (such as after exercise, enjoying a sunny day, or eating the right snack), our mood improves and we tend to feel happier.
Some frequently asked questions about weighted blankets
Are weighted blankets covered by insurance?
This is one of the most frequent questions we get about our weighted blankets. And the short answer is, maybe!
There are a lot of nuances to insurance policies in general, and the topic of weighted blanket coverage is no different. It often depends on what type of insurance you have, and what type of medical equipment it covers. What state you live in also plays a big part. You may have to do a little research, but don't worry, the answers are out there. We’ve got another blog post dedicated to this very topic, so check it out for more guidance!
Can a weighted blanket be too heavy?
Another question we often get is: which blanket weight is right for me? Is there such a thing as a weighted blanket being too heavy?
The general rule we tell people to use when determining which weight is a right fit, is that your blanket should be roughly 10% of your body weight. (So if you weight 150 lbs, a 15 lb weighted blanket is right for you.) However, many times people actually prefer heavier a weight than what is recommended.
We've often seen that heavier weights also work better, especially for those suffering from chronic pain or prolonged insomnia. Those who deal with sensory overload and autism have also pointed out that heavier weights seem to work better than lighter weights.
But really, it's up to you. Everybody is unique, and everyone has their own personal preference. We actually have a 30-Day Peace of Mind policy for this very reason. Try a weighted blanket, get used to the weight (this can take some time), and simply send it back if it's not quite the right fit. You can also check out this post if you want to learn more: How heavy should a weighted blanket be?
Is it safe to use a weighted blanket with kids?
Yes! Weighted blankets have been used by therapists for a long time for children dealing with anxiety, ADHD and other sensory disorders. Weight does a lot of wonders for kids. Many children also benefit from the use of weighted lap pads, or weighted vests when it comes to improving focus.
The benefits of using a weighted blanket for kids are the same as they are in adults - better mood, lowered anxiety, and improved sleep. Today, we've gotten so many messages from parents saying they're often battling their kids for use of their Bearaby weighted blanket.
As we mentioned, for most adults the general rule to follow is that the blanket should be around 10% of the body weight. For children, some studies actually recommend higher weights for kids, ranging from 15-20% of their body weight. See what your child feels comfortable with, and increase weight if it feels right.
It’s usually okay to add a couple of extra pounds if your kids are in-between weights, especially as your child nears their preteen and teen years. Remember that weighted blankets should never be used for babies or toddlers under age 2, no matter how restless they are or how poorly they sleep!
How are Bearaby’s weighted blankets different from other weighted blankets?
Science has shown that weighted blankets can help people sleep better. (We just ran through all the benefits!) Unfortunately, most of these blankets are awful for the environment. They’re made from synthetic materials and filled with plastic pellets to make the blanket heavy. This not only makes them hot and uncomfortable (think about sleeping under a plastic sheet!), but most critically, terrible for planet Earth. At the end of their lifecycle, these weighted blankets will sit in landfills and never fully decompose.
Our weighted blanket - The Napper - is simply made from layers of certified organic cotton that have been knitted together into a chunky weave. We also use TencelTM Lyocell fiber for our Tree Napper, which is sourced from raw eucalyptus pulp, uses 10 times less water than common fabrics, and is fully biodegradable.
We believe that incorporating sustainability at the core of our business is not only the right thing to do, but it also leads to better products. It turns out by removing the plastic, we also made our blankets cooling and breathable, solving the common problem of overheating under a weighted blanket. (Which is a complaint we hear from so many people who have tried other weighted blankets.)
What’s so special about the Napper’s chunky weighted yarn and knitted design?
- We found a way to layer organic cotton into a soft and chunkily firm yarn. We developed an innovative approach to building weight by hand-knitting layers to create the same amount of weight as traditional fillers, but in a more responsible and effective manner. It’s a technique that’s never been done before, and we even have a patent for it.
- he knitted design (besides looking stylish) actually serves an important purpose, allowing weight to be evenly distributed over your body (which is a key for the benefits and for air to circulate in and around the weaves. So you can rest-assured you’ll never feel overheated while you sleep, a common complaint from those that use traditional weighted blankets.
- In 2020 we were lucky to receive a coveted Red Dot Award for Product Design. We’re still beaming.
• A weighted blanket can be the perfect, natural solution to many health ailments, including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and anxiety. Try using a weighted blanket if you or someone you know has fibromyalgia, autism, or sensory overload.
• Best of all, weighted blankets provide a sense of calming coziness that can’t be beat. They’re also becoming more and more comfortable and even stylish as well. Just look to any of the Bearaby Nappers for proof positive.
• 30% of American adults suffer from insomnia, but there is hope as studies have shown that those who use weighted blankets have experienced improvements in sleep quality and overall sleep time. So, don’t sleep on weighted blankets. Sleep under them.
Did you know?
The hug machine—a deep-pressure device designed to calm hypersensitive persons—was invented by Temple Grandin while she was in college at Colorado State University.