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The Ultimate Guide to Weighted Blankets

All your weighted blanket questions, answered.

In this guide, you’ll find first-hand info on everything from how weighted blankets work and what they’re made of, to the science-backed benefits of sleeping under weight, and what’s the best weighted blanket for kids. We even included some helpful hints on how to wash your weighted blanket!

How do weighted blankets work?

A weighted blanket is a therapeutic blanket that’s, quite literally, heavy. A weighted blanket for adults usually weighs 15/20 lbs, and resting under it helps improve sleep, ease anxiety, and relieve stress. But how exactly does a weighted blanket help you sleep better and feel calmer? It all boils down to the science of deep touch pressure or DTP.

Simple science & serotonin

The full-body DTP of a weighted blanket kicks a whole series of important chemical reactions in your body, into gear. The first of these is an increased production of serotonin, often called the happy hormone. Healthy serotonin levels help regulate mood and increase feelings of contentment.

Melatonin

An important aspect of serotonin is its relationship to a sleep-promoting hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that controls your circadian rhythm, the technical term for your biological clock.

During the day, melatonin levels remain low, keeping us alert. At night, darkness stimulates the pineal gland prompting your brain to produce more melatonin, and as a result, you feel sleepy. If you’re not feeling sleepy when bedtime rolls around it could be a case of melatonin levels lingering on the low side. Using a weighted blanket increases good hormones like serotonin and melatonin, but can also reduce others, especially cortisol.

The rundown on cortisol

Cortisol, our main stress hormone, is a tricky one. Most of us either have too much or too little of it. Too much cortisol leaves you feeling stressed, high-strung, or wired all day long. Too little cortisol and you're going to feel fatigued, operating with low energy from sun-up to sundown. With cortisol, we’re looking for a Goldilocks situation — just the right amount. We want it higher in the morning to help wake us up but a nice, balanced decrease throughout the day as we head towards bedtime.

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When cortisol remains too high for too long, medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin resistance, and obesity are more likely to develop. Suffice to say, high cortisol levels impede a good night’s rest. Using a weighted blanket can curb high cortisol, reducing stress levels as you sleep.

Cotton Napper

Dreamy, buttery softness

Calms body & mind for deeper sleep

Hand-knitted huggable comfort

Color: Asteroid Grey

Weight: 15 lbs (40”x72”)

10% of your body weight is recommended

Cotton Napper – Knitted Weighted Blanket

Can a weighted blanket reduce anxiety?

Yes, the gentle full-body pressure of a weighted blanket creates a hug-like sensation to harness the therapeutic power of deep touch pressure (DTP). DTP brings about its soothing, stress-relieving benefits by lowering cortisol levels, supercharging serotonin levels and helping your body naturally produce more melatonin. Restoring body and mind to this relaxed state eases anxiety. Resting under weight helps you feel calmer to ultimately let you fall asleep easier and stay asleep for longer.

forbes kathrin quote

Can a weighted blanket treat insomnia?

Many people have found that when they sleep under a weighted blanket generalized sleep issues, anxiety and stress levels become more manageable. Research on the effectiveness of weighted blankets is steadily mounting and the findings are promising.

There are several key research studies showing how a weighted blanket can help treat insomnia, reduce anxiety and alleviate stress. Below is a summary of each study’s findings.

Research On The Effectiveness Of Weighted Blankets

While the research on the effectiveness of weighted blankets is still relatively limited, the eight studies outlined below provide a strong scientific foundation of the therapeutic power of sleeping under weight.

Research study 1: Physiological Effects of Deep Touch Pressure on Anxiety Alleviation: The Weighted Blanket Approach

The findings from this study demonstrate that weights blankets can calm the body and alleviate anxiety.

Research study 2: Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia

Weighted blankets are a natural, non-medicinal way to improve sleep quality, can lead to calmer sleep, waking up more refreshed and aid in reducing insomnia.

Research study 3: A Randomized Controlled Study of Weighted Chain Blankets for Insomnia in Psychiatric Disorders

This study found that weighted chain blankets are an effective and safe intervention for insomnia in patients with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Research study 4: Weighted Blankets: Anxiety Reduction in Adult Patients Receiving Chemotherapy

Based on the finding of this study, patients receiving chemotherapy experienced reduced anxiety when using a weighted blanket during treatment.

Research study 5: The Effects of Deep Pressure Touch on Anxiety

This study demonstrates that deep pressure touch can lower heart rate and ultimately reduce anxiety.

Research study 6: Pilot Study of a Sensory Room in an Acute Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

Participants in this study who used a weighted blanket said they felt significantly less distressed and anxious.

Research study 7: The Biologic Effects of Grounding the Human Body

Research findings include that weighted blankets have a grounding effect on the body and this can lower cortisol levels (especially in women), relieve pain, stress, and problematic sleep.

Research study 6: Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket

This study found it is safe to sleep under a weighted blanket of up to 30 lb. After sleeping under a weighted blanket 63% of participants felt less anxious and 78% of participants chose it as their preferred calming method.

What are the benefits of weighted blankets?

In the previous section we covered off on how weighted blankets are proven to reduce anxiety and ease insomnia. But those aren’t the only benefit of our breathable blankets!

girl napper infographic

Here is a list of the top 15 benefits of weighted blankets:

1. Brings better sleep
2. Calms stress-levels
3. Alleviates anxiety
4. Lulls insomnia
5. Helps relieve pain
6. Fights side-effect of fibromyalgia
7. Brings the health benefits of hugging
8. Helps autistic people rest easier
9. Strengthens attention span
10. Helps treat sensory overload
11. Can improve mood
12. Helps soothe symptoms of OCD
13. Eases symptoms of RLS
14. Helps fight PTSD-related sleep battles
15. Supports the unique sleep needs of the elderly

Let’s dig a little deeper into some of these science-backed benefits.

Weighted blankets can treat symptoms of RLS

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) can transform from a minor annoyance to a known sleep nemesis. Although there isn’t a cure for this curious condition, sleeping under weight can help relieve RLS symptoms.

So worth it

I suffer from chronic pain and this blanket has been amazing.

Katerina C.

How do weighted blankets relieve pain?

The therapeutic full-body pressure of a weighted blanket can alleviate pain and boost general wellbeing — all while we’re sleeping. Keeping in mind that pain is a personal path and the remedies that work for one person may not have the same effect on another, chronic pain often comes with high cortisol, reduced serotonin, and lackluster sleep.

Weighted blankets provide an easy-to-use and natural way to tackle these troubles.

I’ve tried two other weighted blankets

I’ve tried two other weighted blankets. As someone who tends to have restless legs, I don’t have any more issues at night when I use this Napper. Highly, highly recommend.

Martha G.

Weighted blankets can fight fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition often accompanied by sleep troubles and intense fatigue. Some people suffering from fibromyalgia have found weighted blankets beneficial in relieving sleep- and anxiety-related symptoms.

Great for PTSD

I have PTSD and this blanket has really helped me fall asleep with less anxiety. I also notice I sleep longer. It also helps during the day when I have anxiety.

Anna C.

Improve your mood with a weighted blanket

If tossing and turning at night is taking its toll on your daytime demeanor, try using a weighted blanket to help improve your mood. The natural serotonin-boosting effects of sleeping under weight help you sleep deeper and wake up feeling better.

If it’s stress making you moody, using a weighted blanket also helps curb high cortisol levels. We’ve all experienced the crankiness that comes from having a restless night, and it’s no secret that irritability and sleep deprivation go hand in hand. But, rest assured, sleeping under a knitted weighted blanket can help put the spring back in your step.

Cotton Napper

Dreamy, buttery softness

Calms body & mind for deeper sleep

Hand-knitted huggable comfort

Color: Asteroid Grey

Weight: 15 lbs (40”x72”)

10% of your body weight is recommended

Cotton Napper – Knitted Weighted Blanket

How to use a weighted blanket

To maximize the benefits of sleeping under weight, we recommend using a weighted blanket on a daily basis. Our Cotton Napper weighted blankets are perfect for a revitalizing afternoon nap, for sleeping all through the night and as a super-soft calming tool to help you relax and unwind.

Many people also find working with a weighted blanket over their lap or shoulders helps improve focus.

How long does it take for weighted blanket benefits to work?

The time it takes for a weighted blanket to begin working its wonders, varies from person to person. Like most new things, resting under weight can take a little getting used to, but the right weighted blanket should condition your mind and body to a better way of sleeping in no time.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you start using a weighted blanket:

  • If you need to, ease your way under it by starting with only covering your legs.
  • To help your body adjust, use your weighted blanket for only 30 minutes the first two or three days.
  • Give yourself at least 10 nights to start feeling the benefits of a 15/20 lb weighted blanket.
  • Weighted blankets work best when they’re part of your sleep habits. Did you know that it takes at least 18 days to form a new habit?

TIP: When sleeping under our chunky-knit weighted blankets at night, use only a top sheet and your Napper. Layering a weighted blanket on top of a comforter traps body heat, and this impedes on getting restorative rest. Sleeping under a sheet and a Napper brings the comfy balance between cozy and cool.

Don’t weighted blankets make you hot?

Bearaby’s patented weighted blankets are ultra-breathable. We use a chunky-knit, filler-free design that allows for increased airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable all through the night. We also use breathable, natural fabrics that fight off any excess body heat. If you’re wondering if sleeping under weight makes you hot or sweaty, rest assured, our cooling weighted blankets have got you covered!

In the next section, we give you a sneak peek into how we craft our knitted Nappers to maximize breathability, discuss the earth-loving materials used in our products, and give you some pointers on what’s the best weighted blanket option for hot sleepers.

How are weighted blankets made?

A common problem with conventional weighted blankets is that they hike up body heat. This has a lot to do with how weighted blankets are traditionally manufactured. Using dense fabrics lined with artificial fillers, like beads or pellets, leaves little space for airflow, and people who use them often end up sweaty, hot, and uncomfortable. We solved this problem by re-inventing the way weighted blankets are made.

The two main materials in Bearaby weighted blankets are organic cotton and Tencel.

  • Our Cotton Napper, Travel Napper, and Nappling are made of organic sustainably farmed cotton.
  • The Tree Napper is made entirely of Tencel — a fabric made from wood pulp that is breathable, biodegradable, and manufactured in a closed-loop process.
bearaby infographic

The best weighted blanket for hot sleepers

Coupling cooling fabric with a breathable design, the Tree Napper weighted blanket is any sweaty sleeper’s solution to comfier rest. This knitted weighted blanket brings the benefits of a full-body hug without the uncomfortably high body heat.

While all our weighted blankets calm you down and keep you cool, our Tree Napper is the perfect choice for those that sleep hotter than most. It’s made from Tencel, a textile known for being more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk, and cooler than linen.

Tencel is a tree fabric sourced from raw eucalyptus wood pulp. It has a smooth fiber surface that helps to regulate body temperature, and it’s also a moisture-wicking fabric, so even if you have a sweatier night than usual, the Tree Napper fights any cropped-up moisture.

Our Tree Nappers are our coolest, most breathable Nappers yet. The hand-knit design and all-natural materials make them the best weighted blanket for hot sleepers.

Tree Napper

Silky-soft, airy comfort

Made from natural eucalyptus

Ultra breathable

Color: Cocoa

Weight: 15 lbs (40”x72”)

10% of your body weight is recommended

Tree Napper

What weighted blanket weight is right for me?

A weighted blanket should weigh around 10% of your body weight. In this section, you’ll find a quick guide for choosing the right weighted blanket weight and answers to common weight-related questions.

Quick guide to choosing a weighted blanket weight:

  • A weighted blanket should weigh roughly 10% of your body weight.
  • For someone who weighs 150 pounds, your best bet is our 15 lb weighted blanket. If you’re closer to 200 pounds, try our 20 lb weighted blanket.
  • Give yourself at least 10 nights to start feeling the benefits of a 15/20 lb weighted blanket.
  • As long as you're comfortable and feel cozy, going beyond the 10% rule is totally fine.

At Bearaby, we help fellow sleep-lovers find the ideal weighted blanket weight. The questions we typically ask to pinpoint the best weighted blanket weight for each person’s unique needs are:

popups infographic

What if I am between weights?

Our weighted blankets come in 15, 20, and 25-pound weights. If 10% of your body weight doesn’t fit squarely into one of those categories, most experts recommend bumping up to the next, heavier option.

But, there are things to consider:

  • If you’re buying the weighted blanket for someone who is on the lighter side, you may not want to add the extra weight, as too much pressure may be uncomfortable. We want the blanket to feel like a warm hug, not a tight squeeze!
  • For someone who weighs 150 pounds, your best bet is our 15 lb weighted blanket. If you’re closer to 200 pounds, try our 20 lb weighted blanket.
  • Those who struggle with RLS, insomnia, or chronic pain typically benefit more from a heavier weighted blanket.

Can a weighted blanket be too heavy?

Studies show it’s safe for adults to sleep under a weighted blanket of up to 30 lb. If you’re concerned that you’ve opted for a too heavy weighted blanket, remember these three things:

  1. Comfort comes first. Although it may take a few days to get used to at the start, you should use a weighted blanket weight that feels comfy and cozy.
  2. The weight needs to be evenly distributed to be most effective. If you go for a heavier blanket, but end up only using it over half of your body, it's not really doing its job.
  3. You don’t want to go too low with the weight, either. Make sure you’re choosing a heavy enough weighted blanket so DTP can really kick in.

What is the best weighted blanket for kids?

As with all things kids, safety first! Parents, a kind reminder that our weighted blanket for kids, the Nappling, is best suited to kids of four years and older.

Here’s the rundown on how to choose a weighted blanket weight for kids:

  • Recommendations vary between 10 % and 30% of their body weight.
  • Generally, younger children gravitate towards a higher blanket weight.
  • The best option is to try it out and pay attention to how your child reacts: if you pick up any discomfort, change to something lighter. It’s not unusual for this process to take a little trial and error.

The gist is for a weighted blanket to do its job, it should cover your kiddo’s whole body with evenly distributed weight. That’s why we're pretty proud of our innovative knitted design - it hugs them tight but also keeps them cool.

nappling infographic

How do weighted blankets benefit kids?

The benefits grownups get from sleeping under weight, are helpful to kiddos too. Let’s look at how the sleep-loving, kid-hugging weighted blanket for kids, the Nappling, can help your child.

  • Better Sleep

If your child has trouble calming down at nap- or bedtime, a Nappling could be just what they need. Weighted blankets provide a natural, soothing tool to help kids settle to sleep easier and bring about deeper, better sleep.

  • Better focus

A child who is well-rested finds it easier to stay on-task. A weighted blanket can help kids stay focused, which helps them flourish in their academic and social development.

  • Calmer hearts, minds, and bodies

A weighted blanket can help ease child anxiety. It’s a simple, drug-free method that calms a child’s anxious thoughts, feelings, and that growing little body.

  • Treats symptoms of autism and ADHD

Weighted blankets can help children (and adults) with autism or ADHD cope with symptoms of sensory overload and hyperactivity. Research studies point out how people battling these disorders benefit from DTP - the simple science of how weighted blankets work.

How do you wash a weighted blanket?

Washing a weighted blanket should be as simple as using one. Unlike many other weighted blankets that need dry cleaning, Bearaby weighted blankets can be washed and cared for at home. All our Napper weighted blankets are machine washable.

We recommend washing it separately in cool or lukewarm water (max 90 °F), selecting either the delicate or permanent-press cycle.

If you have one of our heavier 25 lb weighted blankets and an older washing machine (like a top-loader with a center column agitator), it may be best to wash your weighted blanket at a laundromat in a larger, heavy-duty washer. This will ensure the weight and weaves won't be too hard on an older machine. Again, a gentle cycle is best!

Here are a few do’s and don’ts of washing your Napper.

do dont infographic

Are weighted blankets covered by insurance?

The best answer to this question is maybe. For some, weighted blankets may be a cozy addition to their sleeping routine. For others, weighted blankets may be a medical necessity to help treat a chronic condition, like anxiety or insomnia. In this case, it’s a habilitative medical device and might be covered.

Here’s the rundown on what we know about insurance coverage and weighted blankets:

  • In some instances, weighted blankets are categorized as a medical device, increasing the likelihood of insurance companies covering the cost.
  • Every insurance policy varies in the extent of coverage and different states have different requirements for what gets covered by insurance. These variables make it hard to know when a weighted blanket can be covered, or not.
  • Asking your doctor or specialist to write a prescription can increase your chances of it being covered – this makes the case that your weighted blanket is a medical necessity.

Read more: Are Weighted Blankets Covered By Insurance?

collage infographic

A brief history of weighted blankets

The need for restorative rest is as old as history itself. Going as far back as 350 BC, Aristotle wrote how deep sleep is the brain’s way of practicing self-care. Weighted blankets provide a modern yet natural solution to this ages-old need for genuinely good sleep. At the same time, sleeping under weight helps curb current public health issues like chronic anxiety and stress.

Although weighted blankets have been used as a therapeutic tool for autism, sensory disorders, PTSD, and anxiety since the 1990s, the science behind these blankets traces further back to the 1960s with the storied work of Dr. Temple Grandin – and a few very calm cows!

Dr. Grandin, an animal scientist who was also diagnosed with autism, played a pivotal role in what we know about the application and benefits of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). She first noticed the easing effects of deep touch pressure in cows: the animals were significantly calmer after going through a chute that applied deep pressure to their bodies.

Dr. Grandin came to wonder how DTP could be applied to humans to benefit people who, like her, battled with autism-related anxiety.

Fast forward through a few decades of research and innovation to today, and you’ll find that DTP is a popularized concept. Dr. Grandin’s groundbreaking work is now incorporated into easy-to-use solutions (like weighted blankets) to treat anxiety, stress, insomnia, and sensory disorders.

Reviewed by:

dr andras

Dr. Andras Horvath
Dr. Andras Horvath is a clinical neuroscientist who has worked at several international institutions in the United States, Switzerland, Portugal, and Belgium. He is currently based at Semmelweis University where he investigates the impact of sleep changes on cognitive performance, mood, anxiety, and memory.

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.