We spend roughly half of our lives in our beds. It’s no wonder that people care a lot about finding the right bedding – be it a mattress that’s good for posture or the perfect pillow to help you rest easy.
One of the latest trends in the bedding market is weighted blankets. These are essentially what they sound like: heavy blankets. They typically weigh between 5-13kgs and are filled with tiny objects like pellets or beads to give them the extra weight. Despite their weight, many modern weighted blankets are designed to help regulate body heat and cool you down.
What is the science behind weighted blankets?
Many people use weighted blankets to relieve stress, anxiety and insomnia. The benefits are grounded in the theory of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) therapy.
Simply put, DTP therapy is centred around the idea of providing comfort and safety through external pressure on the body, like a hug. When comforted this way, skin receptors signal to the brain you are in a stable environment, releasing the feel-good and relaxing chemicals serotonin and melatonin.
What are the health benefits?
Weighted blankets mimic the pressure and feeling of DTP to help people relax and sleep better. They have often been used to help children with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.
Research around the broader benefits of weighted blankets is continuing to develop. One study in 2011 found that the DTP effects given by the weighted blanket gave people “the feelings of safety, relaxation and comfort.”
A 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health found that using a weighted blanket reduced anxiety in roughly 33% of participants. Weighted blankets may also help those with Restless Legs Syndrome, Fibromyalgia Pain and Sensory Processing Disorder.
How to choose a weighted blanket
A general guide to choosing a weighted blanket is to pick up that is 5-10% of your body weight. Find a fabric that feels good and look out for material that’s breathable such as organic cotton. Glass beads are typically better than plastic ones as they retain less heat.
It’s important to note that weighted blankets should not be used for children under 2.