Guide to Weighted
Here are all your weight blanket questions,
- What is a weighted blanket?
- How do weighted blankets work?
- Top ten benefits of weighted blankets
- Can a weighted blanket reduce anxiety?
- What is the best weighted blanket for kids?
- What weighted blanket weight is right for me?
- Don’t weighted blankets make you hot?
- What are weighted blankets made of?
- How do you wash a weighted blanket?
- Are weighted blankets covered by insurance?
In this guide, you’ll find first-hand info on everything from how weighted blankets work and what materials they’re made of, to the science-backed benefits of sleeping under weight, and what’s the best weighted blanket for kids. We even included some helpful hints on how to wash your weighted blanket!
1. What is a weighted blanket?
A weighted blanket is a therapeutic blanket that’s, quite literally, heavy. A weighted blanket for adults usually weighs 15/20 lbs, and helps improve sleep, ease anxiety, and relieve stress.
A conventional weighted blanket contains artificial fillers, like pellets or beads, that are sewn into a dense fabric to make it weighted. Bearaby weighted blankets defy convention: our wonderfully weaved weighted blankets are filler-free! We use nothing but layer upon layer of natural, breathable, great-feeling fabric and an open-loop knit design to bring you the best knitted weighted blanket for blissfully deep sleep — so you’ll wake up feeling cool, calm and collected.
2. How do weighted blankets work?
Weighted blankets use the principles of deep touch pressure (DTP) to regulate our mood and improve sleep. When pressure points on our bodies are activated (think of a snug hug or a deep tissue massage), DTP rebalances hormone levels leaving us calmer, sleepier, and less stressed.
In this section, we’ll cover the ins and outs of how weighted blankets work and what exactly DTP does for our bodies. Before we take a closer look at how they work, let’s look back at where the science behind weighted blankets comes from.
A brief history of weighted blankets
The need for restorative rest is as old as history itself. Going as far back as 350 BC, Aristotle wrote how deep sleep is the brain’s way of practicing self-care. Weighted blankets provide a modern yet natural solution to this ages-old need for genuinely good sleep. At the same time, sleeping under weight helps curb current public health issues like chronic anxiety and stress.
Although weighted blankets have been used as a therapeutic tool for autism, sensory disorders, PTSD, and anxiety since the 1990s, the science behind these blankets traces further back to the 1960s with the storied work of Dr. Temple Grandin – and a few very calm cows!
Dr. Grandin, an animal scientist who was also diagnosed with autism, played a pivotal role in what we know about the application and benefits of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). She first noticed the easing effects of deep touch pressure in cows: the animals were significantly calmer after going through a chute that applied deep pressure to their bodies.
Dr. Grandin came to wonder how DTP could be applied to humans to benefit people who, like her, battled with autism-related anxiety.
Fast forward through a few decades of research and innovation to today, and you’ll find that DTP is a popularized concept. Dr. Grandin’s groundbreaking work is now incorporated into easy-to-use solutions (like weighted blankets) to treat anxiety, stress, insomnia, and sensory disorders.
But how exactly do the effects of DTP translate into sleeping and feeling better? It all boils down to the human bioscience of hormones.
Hormones, happiness, and sleep: the magical effects of DTP
In the same way a baby responds to being swaddled, there's a sense of calm that comes from evenly distributed weight cocooned around your body. For adults, sleeping under a 15/20 lb weighted blanket brings about this snug sensation, and cues the calming effects of DTP. In the same way, you’ll find a weighted blanket for kids has the soothing effects of a cuddle - captured in a blanket that’s doused with sleepy dust.
All these magical effects of DTP are firmly backed up by human bioscience. The full-body DTP of a weighted blanket kicks a whole series of important chemical reactions in your body, into gear. The first of these is an increased production of serotonin, often called the happy hormone.
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is the hormone that makes us feel good. It has an enormous impact on our sense of wellbeing and the quality of our sleep.
Increased levels of serotonin often correspond with decreased time spent in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is the deep dream-filled stage of sleep, but it's actually during the non-REM sleep stages that our brain gets restorative rest. This points out how healthy serotonin levels increase the amount of time we spend repairing and healing at night.
Another important aspect of serotonin is its relationship to a sleep-promoting hormone called melatonin.
More about melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that controls sleep-wake cycles, also called circadian rhythm or your biological clock.
During the day, melatonin levels remain low, keeping us alert. At night, darkness stimulates the pineal gland prompting your brain to produce more melatonin, and as a result, you feel sleepy. If you’re not feeling sleepy when bedtime rolls around it’s typically a case of melatonin levels lingering on the low side.
Did you know serotonin acts as a precursor to melatonin? Weighted blankets help supercharge serotonin levels and, in turn, boost melatonin levels too. So, if it's low melatonin keeping you up, snuggle up under a weighted blanket and you’ll soon enough be drifting off to dreamland.
Struggling to fall asleep can also be stress-related. This raises the question: how do weighted blankets reduce stress?
How do weighted blankets reduce stress?
Using a weighted blanket increases good hormones like serotonin and melatonin, but can also reduce others. Cortisol, our main stress hormone, is a tricky one. Most of us either have too much or too little of it.
Here's the rundown on cortisol:
- Too much cortisol leaves you feeling stressed, high-strung, or wired all day long.
- Too little cortisol and you're going to feel fatigued, operating with low energy from sun-up to sundown.
- With cortisol, we’re looking for a Goldilocks situation — just the right amount. We want it higher in the morning to help wake us up but a nice, balanced decrease throughout the day as we head towards bedtime.
- When cortisol remains too high for too long, medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin resistance, and obesity are more likely to develop.
- Suffice to say, high cortisol levels impede a good night’s rest.
- Using a weighted blanket can curb high cortisol, reducing stress levels as you sleep.
To end off this section, let’s sum up how weighted blankets work.
Next, let’s look at a list of how better nights become better days. What are the benefits of weighted blankets?
3. Top ten benefits of weighted blankets
Here are ten benefits of weighted blankets:
- Eases anxiety
- Lowers stress levels
- Improves the quality of sleep
- Treats insomnia
- Treats symptoms of RLS
- Relieves pain
- Fights symptoms of fibromyalgia
- Improves mood
- Treats symptoms of autism and ADHD
- Betters focus
Over on our blog you’ll find a full list of 20 Weighted Blanket Benefits: All The Ways A Napper Can Help You Feel And Sleep Better
Can something as simple as sleeping under weight have such impactful benefits? Yes, it can! In this next section, you’ll find science-backed explanations of how sleeping under a knitted weighted blanket can have far-reaching physical and mental health advantages.
Let’s zoom in on some of the facts and figures behind these weighted blanket benefits.
4. Can a weighted blanket reduce anxiety?
Many people battling mental health conditions found that when they sleep under a weighted blanket anxiety becomes more manageable. Others have said the same of stress levels and generalized sleep issues. This isn’t just hearsay.
There are several key research studies showing how a weighted blanket reduces anxiety and stress. Here’s an overview of each research study’s findings.
Another simple science contributing to the calming effect of weighted blankets is called grounding or earthing. While true earthing requires a barefoot connection with natural ground, weighted blankets can bring about similar effects.
Weighted blankets can treat symptoms of RLS
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) can transform from a minor annoyance to a known sleep nemesis. Although there isn’t a cure for this curious condition, sleeping under weight can help relieve RLS symptoms.
How do weighted blankets relieve pain?
The therapeutic full-body pressure of a weighted blanket can alleviate pain and boost general wellbeing — all while we’re sleeping. Keeping in mind that pain is a personal path and the remedies that work for one person may not have the same effect on another, chronic pain often comes with high cortisol, reduced serotonin, and lackluster sleep. Weighted blankets provide an easy-to-use and natural way to tackle these troubles.
Weighted blankets can fight fibromyalgia symptoms
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition often accompanied by sleep troubles and intense fatigue. Some people suffering from fibromyalgia have found weighted blankets beneficial in relieving sleep- and anxiety-related symptoms.
Improve your mood with a weighted blanket
If tossing and turning at night is taking its toll on your daytime demeanor, try using a weighted blanket to help improve your mood. The natural serotonin-boosting effects of sleeping under weight help you sleep deeper and wake up feeling better. If it’s stress making you moody, using a weighted blanket also helps curb high cortisol levels.
We’ve all experienced the crankiness that comes from having a restless night, and it’s no secret that irritability and sleep deprivation go hand in hand. But, rest assured, sleeping under a knitted weighted blanket can help put the spring back in your step.
The Napper: it’s beneficial and beautiful
At Bearaby, we’re all about functional being beautiful. That’s why our weighted Napper blankets look just as good as they feel. In fact, we think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-looking weighted blanket to benefit from...
Feel like taking a Napper?Shop Napper
5. What is the best weighted blanket for kids?
The benefits grownups get from sleeping under weight, are helpful to kiddos too. Let’s look at how the sleep-loving, kid-hugging weighted blanket for kids, the Nappling, can help your child.
- Better sleep
If your child has trouble calming down at nap- or bedtime, a Nappling could be just what they need. Weighted blankets provide a natural, soothing tool to help kids settle to sleep easier and bring about deeper, better sleep.
- Better focus
A child who is well-rested finds it easier to stay on-task. A weighted blanket can help kids stay focused, which helps them flourish in their academic and social development.
- Calmer hearts, minds, and bodies
A weighted blanket can help ease child anxiety. It’s a simple, drug-free method that calms a child’s anxious thoughts, feelings, and that growing little body.
- Treats symptoms of autism and ADHD
Weighted blankets can help children (and adults) with autism or ADHD cope with symptoms of sensory overload and hyperactivity. Research studies point out how people battling these disorders benefit from DTP - the simple science of how weighted blankets work.
How long does it take for weighted blanket benefits to work?
The time it takes for a weighted blanket to begin working its wonders, varies from person to person. Like most new things, resting under weight can take a little getting used to, but the right weighted blanket should condition your mind and body to a new, better way of sleeping in no time.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you start using a weighted blanket:
- If you need to, ease your way under it by starting with only covering your legs.
- To help your body adjust, use your weighted blanket for only 30 minutes the first two or three days.
- Give yourself at least 10 nights to start feeling the benefits of a 15/20 lb weighted blanket.
- Weighted blankets work best when they’re part of your sleep habits. Did you know that it takes at least 18 days to form a new habit?
It may take time to adopt a nightly ritual of sleeping under a heavy weighted blanket, but the long-term benefits can be life-changing.
This brings us to the next question: what weighted blanket weight is right for me?
6. What weighted blanket weight is right for me?
A weighted blanket should weigh around 10% of your body weight. In this section, you’ll find a quick guide for choosing the right weighted blanket weight and answers to common weight-related questions.
Quick guide to choosing weighted blanket weight:
- A weighted blanket should weigh roughly 10% of your body weight.
- For someone who weighs 150 pounds, your best bet is our 15 lb weighted blanket. If you’re closer to 200 pounds, try our 20 lb weighted blanket.
- As long as you're comfortable and feel cozy, going beyond the 10% rule is totally fine.
At Bearaby, we help fellow sleep-lovers find the ideal weighted blanket weight. The questions we typically ask to pinpoint the best weighted blanket weight for each person’s unique needs are:
What if I am between weights?
Our weighted blankets come in 15, 20, and 25-pound weights. If 10% of your body weight doesn’t fit squarely into one of those categories, most experts recommend bumping up to the next, heavier option.
But, there are things to consider:
- If you’re buying the weighted blanket for someone who is on the lighter side, you may not want to add the extra weight, as too much pressure may be uncomfortable. We want the blanket to feel like a warm hug, not a tight squeeze!
- Those who struggle with RLS, insomnia, or chronic pain typically benefit more from a heavier weighted blanket.
Can a weighted blanket be too heavy?
Studies show it’s safe for adults to sleep under a weighted blanket of up to 30 lb. If you’re concerned that you’ve opted for a too heavy weighted blanket, remember these three things:
- Comfort comes first. Although it may take a few days to get used to at the start, you should use a weighted blanket weight that feels comfy and cozy.
- The weight needs to be evenly distributed to be most effective. If you go for a heavier blanket, but end up only using it over half of your body, it's not really doing its job.
- You don’t want to go too low with the weight, either. Make sure you’re choosing a heavy enough weighted blanket so DTP can really kick in.
What is the best weighted blanket weight for kids?
As with all things kids, safety first! Parents, a kind reminder that our weighted blanket for kids, the Nappling, is best suited to kids of four years and older. The very young ones will have to wait for their turn.
Here’s the rundown on how to choose a weighted blanket weight for kids:
- Recommendations vary between 10 % and 30% of their body weight.
- Generally, younger children gravitate towards a higher blanket weight.
- The best option is to try it out and pay attention to how your child reacts: if you pick up any discomfort, change to something lighter. It’s not unusual for this process to take a little trial and error.
The gist is for a weighted blanket to do its job, it should cover your kiddo’s whole body with evenly distributed weight. That’s why we're pretty proud of our innovative knitted design - it hugs them tight but also keeps them cool.
Snug as a bug in a BearabyShop Nappling
7. Don’t weighted blankets make you hot?
A common problem with conventional weighted blankets is that they hike up body heat. This has a lot to do with how weighted blankets are traditionally manufactured. Using dense fabrics lined with artificial fillers, like beads or pellets, leaves little space for airflow, and people who use them often end up sweaty, hot, and simply uncomfortable. We solved this problem by re-inventing the way weighted blankets are made.
Bearaby weighted blankets are ultra-breathable. We use a chunky-knit, filler-free design that allows for increased airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable all through the night. We also use breathable, natural fabrics that fight off any excess body heat. If you’re wondering if sleeping under weight makes you hot or sweaty, rest assured, our cooling weighted blankets have got you covered!
In this section, we give you a sneak peek into how we craft our knitted Nappers to maximize breathability, discuss the earth-loving materials used in our products, and give you some pointers on what’s the best weighted blanket option for hot sleepers.
How we make our comfy, cooling weighted blankets
Breathability is a key aspect of our innovative design. Here’s how we optimize this in every weighted blanket we make.