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Weighted blankets: What are they? Can they help with anxiety?

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

Wellness trends come and go – but weighted blankets are not going away.

Said to help with anxiety, ADHD, insomnia and more, people have been extolling the many virtues of sleeping under a weighted blanket for years. 

Or as one Twitter user wryly put it: “a weighted blanket is basically melatonin that cuddles you”.

But what are weighted blankets and how do they work? And how could sleeping under a weighted blanket help you with your mental wellbeing

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. 

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 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.”

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.

Image: Getty