Home / Blog December 20, 2021

5 min read

How Do Weighted Blankets Ease Anxiety?

We dig into the science of how weighted blankets help you naturally overcome feelings of stress and anxiety.

weighted blanket for anxiety


Recent studies affirm that weighted blankets lower anxiety.

The science behind weighted blankets comes down to what’s called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), and DTP brings a bunch of research-backed benefits.

Unlike conventional weighted blankets, our knitted Nappers are filler-free – this means more even weight distribution, more effective DTP, and more calm.

Did you know?
Pineapple and nuts can help increase serotonin levels, and many foods, like cherries, mustard, almonds and tomatoes, have been known to increase your melatonin levels.

Is anxiety making it difficult to focus during the day or fall asleep at night? Others are off counting sheep, getting crucial restorative rest, and you’re wide awake counting worries instead?

A weighted blanket can help.

While stress can be temporary, many of us are dealing with non-stop anxiety. These feelings of uneasiness and worry can significantly impact overall health and wellness. This post explains how weighted blankets for adults with anxiety work and answers often-asked questions about reducing stress by sleeping under the delightfully heavy pressure of a Napper.

What Are Weighted Blankets?

A weighted blanket, sometimes also called a weighted anxiety blanket, is a therapeutic tool to naturally aid sleep and mental health. While weighted blankets have recently soared in popularity, the concept of anti-anxiety blankets has been around for a while.

For many years, occupational therapists and those caring for people in the special needs community have used various weighted objects to bring about a calming, sensory experience. Today, using a weighted blanket for anxiety and insomnia is mainstream practice.

do weighted blankets help with anxiety

Do Weighted Blankets Help With Anxiety?

Recent research backs up using a heavy blanket for anxiety. A study published by the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing in August 2020 found that patients receiving chemotherapy felt less anxious when they used a weighted blanket.

These findings also reiterate the benefits of weighted blankets for adults with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia or RLS, disorders like PTSD, and anyone struggling with high anxiety levels.

Experts from the American Sleep Association, Harvard University, and The Cleveland Clinic also acknowledge the benefits of a weighted blanket for anxiety. In a study published by Occupational Study in Mental Health in 2015, research revealed that 60% of the test group reported a significant reduction of anxiety after using a weighted blanket. They also proved with numerous safety measures including monitoring of blood pressure, pulse rate, and blood oxygen level that up to a 30-pound blanket can safely be used to help ease anxiety.

Weighted blankets for PTSD

Weighted anxiety blankets for adults are a great tool to add to the repertoire when tackling not only your anxiety levels but also your overall mental health. For those struggling with PTSD or other disorders that affect your sleep health, using a weighted blanket can help ease certain symptoms like raised cortisol levels, hyper-vigilance, or over-tiredness.

Weighted blankets for depression

Weighted blankets for PTSD have the same benefits as weighted blankets for depression in that they work to soothe your anxiety by boosting your body’s serotonin production. Once you get into the habit of using a weighted blanket, you’ll start to notice that it helps ease your mind and body in ways that boost your sleep levels at night, and energy levels during the day. When you’re well-rested you’ll find that your mood gets a boost too.

can weighted blankets help with anxiety

What Is The Best Weighted Blanket For Anxiety?

When buying a weighted blanket to ease your anxiety, consider:

  1. Breathability – a weighted blanket should help you sleep soundly, not wake you up because you’re soaked in sweat.
  2. Sustainability – is your stress-less purchase placing strain on the planet?
  3. Aesthetics – choose a weighted blanket that can double as home decor, so you’re not dealing with the eye-sore of something dull draping over your couch.

Our Napper weighted blankets tick off all three things on this list. Made from sustainably sourced plant-based fabrics, our breathable Napper collection offers you a choice between a 15, 20, or 25 lb weighted blanket in an array of stunning shades, designed to complement any couch.

Cotton Napper

  2149 Reviews
Cotton Napper cta

Dreamy, buttery softness

Calms body & mind for deeper sleep

Hand-knitted huggable comfort

It's Napper Time
Cotton Napper cta

What About A Weighted Blanket For Kids With Anxiety?

The Nappling is our 8 lb weighted blanket designed especially for kids. It harnesses all the stand-out features and benefits of our signature Nappers, resized to suit kids ages four to fourteen. Young ones will enjoy a Nappling as both a sensory blanket and a stress blanket, with its calming texture and soothing weight.

Experts say that the sense of touch can help individuals cope with stress. If you have a child dealing with anxiety or healing from distress, weighted blankets can serve as a source of comfort through the sense of touch. When individuals use their five senses – whether by smelling a calming aroma, touching something soft or cool, or enjoying the taste of a favorite snack – it helps our bodies to feel calm again. This is why the soft touch of our Nappling blanket can be just the thing to help your child alleviate their anxiety and rest easier.

Curious how these anxiety-easing benefits are brought about? Read on.

How Does A Weighted Blanket Work?

Let’s break down the science of sleeping under a Napper.

weighted blanket anxiety - infographic

Grounding Aka Earthing

“Grounding” or “earthing” of the body – pushing it downwards with the help of substantial weight – helps us feel more relaxed. In turn, this reduces feelings of tension for drifting off to dreamland with greater ease. Is this sounding a little too hippy-dippy? Keep reading.

Deep Touch Pressure

Coupled with the effects of “earthing,” the science behind weighted blankets boil down to the added pressure activating Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). There are multiple research-backed benefits of DTP, including increased serotonin (the happy hormone), increased melatonin (the sleep hormone), and decreased cortisol (the stress hormone).

A closer look at serotonin

Serotonin is a chemical produced by our nerve cells and acts as a transmitter, sending messages between the cells. It’s mainly found in the brain and intestines, but it’s also present in our blood platelets. Since it’s located in these key areas of the body, it influences various psychological and bodily functions.

Serotonin works in conjunction with other systems to regulate our blood pressure, heart rate, and mood. This last part is critical, especially when it comes to mental health. It’s considered a natural mood stabilizer, helping to control anxiety and promotes feelings of happiness. A pretty powerful chemical!

Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. DTP causes serotonin levels to spike, having a calming, soothing, serene effect.

Benefits of melatonin

Serotonin naturally converts into melatonin, which is the hormone that tells your body it’s time to wind down as bedtime approaches. With serotonin levels up and melatonin naturally flowing, your body is now primed for deeper, more restful sleep.

Another key element in this chemical equation is cortisol, which is your body’s natural stress hormone. It’s also been referred to as the body’s built-in alarm system, working with your brain to control your motivation levels, fear sensors, and mood.

does weighted blankets help with anxiety

Reduced cortisol levels

When we’re stressed, we tend to have higher levels of cortisol in our bodies. Constant stress is essentially keeping your cortisol switch permanently ‘on’ – increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and sending other body systems into high gear too. As you may have guessed, it can also make it harder to fall and stay asleep.

Scientists conducted a study to measure the biological effects of weighted blankets on the human body during sleep. They did this by measuring cortisol levels and reporting on sleep, pain, and stress. The results?

Weighted blankets significantly reduced cortisol levels during nighttime sleep, reducing sleep dysfunction, pain, and stress. When cortisol levels drop, there’s an overall improvement in our physical and mental comfort.

We Love To Be Cuddled

On top of all of this science, cozying up under a Napper brings a sense of warmth, relief, and security – often described as similar to a hug. A weighted blanket naturally mimics this comforting sensation that our bodies are designed to crave.

Ever wonder why babies sleep better when they’re swaddled? Our knitted weighted blankets draw on the same concept of applying gentle full-body pressure to help grownups struggling with stress or anxiety. Who knew that a bit of delightful pressure (the physical kind, not the hustle and bustle kind) was the ticket to more calm and better sleep?

Along with wrapping up in a cozy Napper or Nappling, it’s helpful to incorporate complementary stress-reducing strategies like:

  • Maintaining a balanced diet
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Staying connected – don’t underestimate the power of a good laugh with a loved one

Is It OK To Sleep With A Weighted Blanket Every Night?

The therapeutic benefits of a weighted blanket are best felt when used consistently. It's a little bit like training your brain – your weighted blanket is telling your body every night that you are safe and well. The sense of comfort this provides trains our bodies to release those "happy hormones"... leaving us feeling calmer and more peaceful the next day.

best weighted blankets for anxiety

Reviewed by:

su lim

Su Lim (LMFT, MA, LLB)
Su Lim is a private practice psychotherapist based in Los Angeles who specializes in both the treatment of anxiety and sleep issues, and how these can adversely affect our relationships and daily life.

Written by:

bearaby staff

Bearaby Staff Writers
Bearaby’s staff writers are a dynamic team of word-nerds and napthusiasts, dedicated to writing evidence-based articles on current trends in sleep health, mental health, and sustainability.