Nothing quite compares to snuggling up in bed, curling up under blankets, and letting any tension built up during the day wash away from you. In recent years, heavier blankets as a means of easing anxiety and promoting a sense of calm, have risen in popularity. The demand for weighted duvets and weighted blankets has skyrocketed, growing as more people find that they feel better, and sleep better, when sleeping with them. Let us investigate how being enveloped by a heavy blanket can improve sleep at night and provide benefits for those struggling with a variety of ailments.
What is a weighted duvet? (or weighted blanket)?
A weighted duvet, also referred to as a weighted blanket or a gravity blanket, is just what the name suggests – a blanket with heavy, weighted filling. The additional weight feels like an embrace as it surrounds your body, creating a sense of security and a feeling of relaxation which makes it easier for us to fall asleep.
These calming blankets can weigh between 2 kg (4.4 lbs) up to 16 kg (35.4 lbs). The additional weight is added by filling it with glass pearls, beads, chains, pellets, pebbles, polyester thread, grains, beans, or even sand.
How is the weighted blanket beneficial for sleep?
Weighted blankets can be hugely beneficial for sleep. The added weight hugs the body, creating a pressure on the skin that relaxes the nervous system. When we feel pressure from a weighted duvet or blanket, our bodies tend to experience Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS). DPS stimulates deep skin receptors, prompting our hormone system to produce and release feel-good hormones such as oxytocin. Oxytocin is primarily linked to relaxation and the relief of stress and anxiety, which can help us fall asleep faster and contribute to a higher sleep quality.
This is likely why many users of weighted blankets and duvets state that they experience increased relaxation, reduced stress and better sleep. Other user-reported potential benefits include:
- Reduced symptoms of restless leg syndrome
- Improved mood
- Increased comfort, since the blanket mimics a hug
- Helps children on the autism spectrum, including those with sensory processing disorder (please see cautionary note below)
- Decreases movement throughout the night, which can help improve overall sleep quality
When to use caution with weighted blankets
As a general rule, weighted blankets are safe for healthy adults, older children, and teenagers. Weighted blankets should not be used for toddlers under the age two, as they may pose a suffocation risk. Even older children with developmental disabilities may be at risk of suffocation. Parents considering using a weighted blanket should therefore always consult their pediatrician before using a weighted blanket for children of any age. Young children should never be left unsupervised with a weighted blanket, particularly those made for an adult.
People with certain health conditions may also need to avoid weighted blankets. For example, those with chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and obstructive sleep apnea. In certain cases, the blanket may trigger feelings of claustrophobia. If you are unsure, always consult a physician.
How heavy should your weighted blanket be?
General guidelines recommend that blankets should be approximately 10% of your body weight.
|Body Weight||Blanket Weight|
|30-49 lbs / 14-22 kg||5 lbs / 2 kg|
|50-79 lbs / 23-36 kg||8 lbs / 3.5 kg|
|80-99 lbs / 37-45 kg||10 lbs / 4.5 kg|
|100-119 lbs / 46-54 kg||12 lbs / 5 kg|
|120-149 lbs / 55-67 kg||15 lbs / 7 kg|
|150-179 lbs / 68-81 kg||18 lbs / 8 kg|
|180-199 lbs / 82-90 kg||20 lbs / 9 kg|
|200+ lbs / 91+ kg||25 lbs / 11 kg|
The historical roots of weighted blankets and duvets
The use of weighted blankets or weighted duvets may feel like a new phenomenon due to its recent surge in popularity, but people have used heavy blankets made of dense materials throughout most of human history. Generations ago, people slept beneath heavy animal skins and straw mats when the cold nights made extra warmth necessary. Before the invention of lightweight down, significantly heavier broadcloth duvets were common in households.
Scientific research is ongoing
Given that the global popularity of the weighted blanket is relatively new, scientific research on its benefits is still underway. Recent research and scientific studies have confirmed what most users experience firsthand: that the weighted duvet makes people relax and sleep better.
A recently published scientific study by Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge, Sweden, is the first placebo-controlled study in the field. The researchers concluded that chain blankets, a type of weighted duvet, are a safe and effective intervention for insomnia in patients with severe depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and hyperactivity disorder such as ADHD. Following up a year after the study, the patients who continued to sleep with a weighted duvet experienced a continued positive effect on their sleep quality. Results showed that patients who used the weighted duvet had:
- Better sleep maintenance
- Higher activity levels during the day
- Reduced fatigue, depression and anxiety
Weighted blankets in healthcare
Weighted duvets have been used successfully in Swedish healthcare for nearly 15 years and the rest of the world is beginning to follow suit. The heavy blankets are often used to treat sleep problems like insomnia for patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, severe pain or anxiety.
Today, the market for weighted blankets has rapidly expanded around the world, with new products and related innovations being released all the time. As more people learn about the potential benefits and begin to use weighted duvets, it may stimulate and promote better sleep hygiene and the many benefits that improved sleep quality generates. Why weight?