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For many people, weighted blankets have become a routine part of stress relief and healthy sleep habits, and for good reason. Research suggests weighted blankets may benefit people with anxiety, autism, and insomnia, among other conditions.

Let’s explore how weighted blankets work as well as the benefits and risks of using these therapeutic blankets.

Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets that weigh between 5 to 30 pounds. The pressure from the extra weight mimics a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation.

Deep pressure stimulation uses hands-on pressure to relax the nervous system. Doing so may help:

  • relieve pain
  • lessen anxiety
  • improve mood

Deep pressure stimulation doesn’t have to be completely hands on. With weighted blankets, the same pressure comes from having the blanket wrapped around the body.

Deep pressure stimulation has shown to be an effective part of other treatments, including massage therapy and the use of support animals.

Where to find a weighted blanket and how much they cost

There are a handful of companies that specialize in weighted blankets, including:

  • Mosaic. Mosaic carries a full line of weighted blankets for every age. Mosaic weighted blankets start at roughly $125.
  • Gravity. Gravity was awarded the top-rated weighted blanket award in 2019 by Mattress Advisor. Gravity weighted blankets start at around $250.
  • SensaCalm. SensaCalm carries premade and custom weighted blankets. SensaCalm weighted blankets start at roughly $100.
  • Layla. Layla specializes in mattresses and pillows, but they also carry a weighted blanket that starts at around $129.

Researchers have studied weighted blankets’ effectiveness for various conditions. Although more research is needed, results have so far indicated the following benefits:

Autism

One of the symptoms of autism, especially in children, is trouble sleeping. In a crossover study from 2014, researchers investigated the effectiveness of weighted blankets for sleep issues related to autism. The results found there was little improvement in sleep scores from the use of the weighted blanket.

However, both the children and their parents noted they liked the weighted blanket more, despite the lack of improvement. This is supported by a smaller research study that found the positive benefits of deep pressure therapy in some people with autism. These benefits may extend to weighted blankets as well.

ADHD

There are very few studies that examine the use of weighted blankets for ADHD, but a similar study was performed using weighted vests. In this study, researchers explain that weighted vests have been used in ADHD therapy to improve attention and reduce hyperactive movements.

The study found promising results for participants who used the weighted vest during a continuous performance test. These participants experienced reductions in falling off task, leaving their seat, and fidgeting.

In addition, further research supports that a weighted ball blanket also has benefits for sleep issues related to ADHD.

Anxiety

One of the primary uses of a weighted blanket is for the treatment of anxiety. Past research has shown that deep pressure stimulation can help reduce autonomic arousal. This arousal is responsible for the symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate.

In the study above, the researchers found that using a weighted blanket reduced anxiety in roughly 33 percent of the 32 participants.

The researchers also explain that for some of the study participants, lying down may also have helped reduce anxiety. This suggests that using a weighted blanket while lying down may further help reduce anxiety symptoms.

Insomnia and sleep disorders

In the 2014 crossover study on autism and weighted blankets, both the parents and children felt the weighted blankets were beneficial in reducing sleep issues.

In the ADHD study using ball blankets, the weighted blanket helped reduce sleep onset time and number of nighttime awakenings in study participants.

These study results suggest an overall benefit of using weighted blankets to treat sleep disorders.

Osteoarthritis

There are no research studies on the use of weighted blankets for osteoarthritis. However, one study utilizing massage therapy may provide a link.

In this small study, 18 participants with osteoarthritis received massage therapy on their knee for 8 weeks. Study participants noted the massage therapy helped reduce knee pain and improve their quality of life.

Massage therapy applies deep pressure to osteoarthritic joints, so it’s possible that similar benefits may be experienced when using a weighted blanket.

Chronic pain

One of the recommended at-home treatments for chronic pain is massage therapy.

In one small study, researchers found that starting with light pressure, later gradually increasing to moderate pressure, and then using deep pressure during massage therapy may reduce pain reflexes in those with chronic pain conditions.

This indicates the extra pressure of a weighted blanket may help keep the legs in place and reduce feelings of pain in chronic pain conditions.

Medical procedures

There may be some benefit to using weighted blankets during medical procedures.

A 2016 study experimented with using weighted blankets on participants undergoing wisdom tooth extraction. The weighted blanket participants experienced lower anxiety symptoms than the control group.

The researchers performed a similar follow-up study on adolescents using a weighted blanket during a molar extraction. Those results also found less anxiety with the use of a weighted blanket.

Since medical procedures tend to cause anxiety symptoms like increased heart rate, using weighted blankets may be beneficial in calming those symptoms.

There are very few risks for using a weighted blanket.

However, according to manufacturers, weighted blankets shouldn’t be used for toddlers under 2 years old, as it may increase the risk of suffocation. Always consult your pediatrician before trying a weighted blanket.

A weighted blanket may also be unsuitable for people with certain conditions, including:

  • obstructive sleep apnea, which causes disrupted breathing during sleep
  • asthma, which can cause difficulty breathing at night
  • claustrophobia, which the tightness of a weighted blanket may trigger
tips for choosing the correct weight
  • As a general rule, a weighted blanket should be 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. The weighted blanket should also fit snugly to the size of the bed.
  • Adults can use medium-large weighted blankets ranging from 12 to 30 pounds.
  • For a 20- to 70-pound child, a small weighted blanket should weigh from 3 to 8 pounds.
  • For a 30- to 130-pound child, a medium weighted blanket should weigh from 5 to 15 pounds.
  • Older adults may want to use small or medium weighted blankets ranging from 5 to 8 pounds.

Weighted blankets are a type of at-home therapy that can provide similar benefits to deep pressure therapy.

These blankets have shown positive results for several conditions, including autism, ADHD, and anxiety. They can help calm a restless body, reduce feelings of anxiety, and improve sleep troubles.

When choosing a weighted blanket for yourself, find a snug size that’s around 10 percent of your body weight.