Everyone struggles to sleep from time to time. After all, our lives are busy and unpredictable, so we have a lot on our minds.
But when this becomes a pattern, it can cause stress, anxiety, and develop into the disruptive condition insomnia.
For what it’s worth, insomnia is also a normal human condition, and just like with restlessness and sleeplessness, everyone suffers from it at some point. But it can develop into chronic insomnia, which lasts much longer.
Of course, you probably know this all too well.
So, in your search for a solution to help you sleep better, you discovered something called a weighted blanket. The question is, does it work?
The evidence suggests it does.
In 2015, the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders found that weighted blankets reduced the symptoms of insomnia.
The study, conducted by Ackerley, Badre, & Olausson, found sleep quality improved among participants suffering from insomnia with a weighted blanket. This study was conclusive in its findings: “Overall, we found that when the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep.”
Interested in knowing more?
Here are 20 weighted blanket benefits:
#1 Simulates Deep Touch Therapy
Weighted blankets simulate Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS), a proven therapy for calming children and adults with anxiety and autism.
This is the very same therapy utilised in hospitals with ‘squeeze’ machines. It simulates the feeling of being cuddled or hugged by applying gentle pressure to the body. It’s this therapy which is cited by studies into weighted blankets.
#2 Can be worn anywhere
Weighted blankets aren’t just for bedtime - they can be worn around the house and taken on holiday. They weigh between 6kg and 10kg.
#3 Comfortable in the winter and summer
We can’t speak for all weighted blankets, but the Koala Blanket has a reversible cover with two different materials. The material for colder nights is Ultra Soft Minky, while the material for warmer nights is Silky Bamboo.
#4 Anyone can use them
Although weighted blankets should NEVER be given to toddlers and young children, teenagers and children over the age of 10 can benefit from them. The right weight is 7-13% of your body weight. Aiming for 10% is a good figure.
#5 Increases serotonin
Serotonin is a chemical your body needs to produce hormones. It is the building block for melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
#6 Boosts melatonin production
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Your body needs it to sleep well. As a by-product of increasing your body’s serotonin production, weighted blankets also boost melatonin production.
#7 Reduces cortisol output
Because weighted blankets provide a calming effect, the body’s production and output of cortisol, the stress hormone, is reduced. Cortisol is directly linked to anxiety, and a weighted blanked helps reduce the hormone.
#8 Proven to help with insomnia
Thousands of people suffering from insomnia swear that their weighted blanket is the therapy they have always needed.
By no means is it a cure for everyone with insomnia, but it certainly helps a lot of people go to sleep and it could help you too.
Looking beyond customer success stories, the scientific evidence is quite compelling. This study and this study are the ones to read. Weighted blankets were shown in these studies to improve sleep quality in adults.
Raj Dasgupta, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California, also notes they can help with chronic pain. “It's like having the best hug for a long period of time,” he said in an interview with Web MD, “it may be a good alternative to life-long sedative hypnotic medications (sleeping pills) at night.”
#9 No drugs
When people suffer from insomnia, they want a quick fix. But turning to sleeping pills is a dangerous game. They are highly addictive, and they have been linked to an increased risk of early death. This is why doctors don’t like prescribing them.
In contrast, a weighted blanket is incredibly safe. Deep Pressure Stimulation requires no drugs to work - just you and a heavy blanket. Safety can therefore be considered one of the biggest benefits of a weighted blanket.
#10 Boosts mood
If you suffer from low mood, a weighted blanket could help.
It’s all down to those increases in serotonin and melatonin, and reduced cortisol. By promoting healthy chemical changes in the body, this type of therapy can help lift mood and improve your general outlook on life.
Please note there is no scientific evidence to say weighted blankets help with depression, but there is evidence to say they can help with stress and anxiety, which are linked to depression.
#11 Can help with stress and anxiety
The scientific evidence for weighted blankets helping to reduce stress and anxiety is also quite compelling.
In one study of anxiety patients, 63% of participants slept better lying under a 30-pound blanket. In another study, this time focussing on dental patients (one of the most stressful environments), Deep Pressure Stimulation was found to have a demonstrable calming effect with it cited as being a “promising approach.”
#12 Can help with ADHD
The scientific evidence to back this up is even more compelling than that for anxiety.
A study in 2010 found that 21 children diagnosed with ADHD took less time to fall asleep with a weighted blanket. Another study published in 2001 in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found children who wore weighted vests to school had a noticeable improvement in attention span and behaviour.
People who suffer from ADHD struggle to fall asleep. Weighted blankets can assist with this, so can be considered a good non-medicinal treatment.
#13 Can help with autism
Autism is a complex and poorly understood condition, yet despite this, studies into weighted blankets and autism have shown promising results for some people. This is because those with autism often have sensory issues, such as sensory processing disorder (SPD), and a weighted blanket can help with this.
The most relevant study was conducted by the American Academy of Paediatrics, who found blankets were not only tolerated well, but were preferred over no blanket, even if use of a weighted blanket didn’t help the participants sleep better.
#14 Can help with restless leg syndrome
The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket has been shown to significantly reduce the urge to move one’s legs. People who sleep with a weighted blanket also toss and turn less during the night. If you suffer from restless leg syndrome, some doctors do recommend weighted blankets as an aid. It’s worth a try at least.
#15 Can help with Tourette syndrome
Weighted blankets have been shown to reduce tics by providing a calming and reassuring effect. People who have Tourette syndrome are often triggered by a feeling of unsettledness or stress. Weighted blankets boost the production of serotonin, and reduce the production of cortisol, giving a double whammy to the condition.
#16 Can help with feelings of loneliness
Having a weighted blanket over you gives you the same feeling as being cuddled. If you happen to feel lonely, you might find the therapeutic effect of a weighted blanket reassuring and pleasant. This can make you feel better.
#17 Can help with fibromyalgia pain
Fibromyalgia pain is a horrible condition to have, because you ache all over, or consistently in one area of the body. It is most often caused by stress and anxiety, but can also be genetic, the result of a sedentary lifestyle, or caused by other conditions. For example, you are more likely to have fibromyalgia if you have arthritis.
Weighted blankets help ease the troublesome symptoms of fibromyalgia because the gentle, even pressure reduces movement. By taking away the urge to move and toss and turn, the symptoms of fibromyalgia are reduced.
#18 Improves comfort in bed
Have you ever been uncomfortable in bed because your duvet or sheet keeps riding around, ending up in strange and annoying places?
Weighted blankets stay put much better than standard duvets because they are heavier. The Koala Blanket goes even further than this, with a unique loop and tie system which lets you secure it to your duvet so it’s never out of place.
#19 A good weighted blanket lasts years
Not all weighted blankets are created equal, but those made by reputable manufacturers should last a very long time.
This is because there are no moving parts that can break. The pockets are all sewn individually and - on a quality blanket - with a thick thread. For example, the Koala Blanket uses extra-thick thread which is also double-stitched.
#20 They are non-medicinal
Weighted blankets are non-medicinal, which means that they are not a clinically-proven treatment for any medical condition. This makes them perfect for people who do not want to take psychiatric medications or undergo therapy.Of course, the purpose of a weighted blanket won’t suit everyone, and they are not a suitable replacement for medication recommended by a doctor. However, they can be very useful in helping treat the medical conditions covered above.