Weighted blankets: what are they, and can they help with anxiety?

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Stylist Team
Weighted blankets

You might have heard about weighted blankets, which are said to help anxiety, insomnia and more. But what are they, and how do they work? 

If you’ve never come in contact with a weighted blanket before, you’ve probably heard of one. The wellness trend has made a name for itself online for it’s potential to help people suffering from anxiety, ADHD, insomnia and more – and in the run-up to Christmas, you may very well be considering adding one to your list.

Weighted blankets are more or less what they say on the tin: thick, soft blankets filled with small objects ranging from pellets to beads of plastic or glass, which weigh down on the user when they lie underneath it.

The pressure of the blanket means the soft fabric wraps around the user, or, as one Twitter user wryly put it: “a weighted blanket is basically melatonin that cuddles you”.

As with all wellness trends, it’s important to approach a new purchase with a healthy amount of cynicism – and that’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to give you answers to some of the most important questions.

From how they work to whether they can actually help you sleep better, here is Stylist’s guide to everything you need to know about weighted blankets.

What is a weighted blanket and how does it work?

A weighted blanket is pretty much what it sounds like – a heavy blanket for your bed. 

Filled with plastic pellets or glass beads, they tend to weigh around 15 pounds or more, though different brands offer various different weights and sizes. 

This comes down to personal preference – some prefer a lighter blanket, while others want something a bit more substantial. 

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And they work, apparently, through something called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). Many weighted blanket fans say that this process helps release serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to emotional regulation – which could explain the feelings of calmness and serenity many users report after using them. 

What can weighted blankets help with?

Weighted blankets
Weighted blankets are said to help people suffering from anxiety.

Weighted blankets have been promoted by sufferers of many conditions as a way of helping them manage their health.

One of the most prominent conditions here is anxiety, which weighted blankets are said to help with. One 2008 study found that those using weighted blanket had lower anxiety, lower blood pressure and pulse rate and experienced significant “positive calming effects”. 

As you might expect, this can also have a positive effect on sleep – many users report longer sleep time and better sleep quality, too.

Other research points to its efficacy with other conditions, too. Weighted vests have already been proven to be useful for concentration in those with ADHD – and weighted blankets could have a similar effect. 

What do weighted blankets feel like?

We spoke to Jennifer, a 28 year old marketing executive, who uses a weighted blanket when she sleeps. She had been suffering for anxiety for years, she says, and “nothing had really worked”. 

“Meditation did help, and I take medication as and when,” she says. But her sleep was disturbed – affecting her work and, more importantly, her mood. She decided to try a weighted blanket after months of broken sleep. And it helped. 

The blanket, she says, improved her sleep within weeks – she began falling asleep quicker and waking up less.

“I now just associate it with feeling relaxed, which I’m sure helps,” she says. “It just makes me feel really calm and safe.”

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Stylist’s editorial assistant Chloe Gray also gave the new range from John Lewis a try for Stylist Loves.

“The blanket’s weight spreads around the mattress beneath you, so rather than feeling weighed down, I felt weightless,” she said. “On the first night, I slept so contently I woke up 45 minutes late, and I’ve now used it every night for the last fortnight.” 

How much do weighted blankets cost?

As you might expect, prices for weighted blankets vary across brand and depending on their weight and composition.

Gravity Blankets, a specialist supplier, have blankets that start at £179 and come in a variety of colours.

If you want something a bit more colourful, Senso-Rex also has some brightly patterned options, starting from £119. Amazon also stocks a range of brands and options so you can check out reviews before you buy. 

Retailers tend to suggest that you get a blanket that weighs around 10% of your body weight – so it might be worth weighing yourself beforehand so you can ensure you’ve got the best blanket for you.

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Images: Getty