You’ve likely seen weighted blankets popping up all over social media these days. The basic premise: Covering yourself in a heavy blanket can calm you down and help you sleep better. It’s a similar concept to why babies get tightly swaddled; the sensation is supposed to be comforting and soothing.
But these blankets aren’t just Instagram hype. “The concept of the weighted blanket has been well-established in medical circles for over 40 years,” says Kathrin Hamm, managing partner of Bearaby. “Science shows that sleeping under weight lowers stress and anxiety levels, improves sleep cycles, and helps you feel happier.” It stimulates deep touch pressure (DTP), a type of therapy that uses firm pressure, a powerful stimulus for the body.
After all, who wouldn’t feel happier when being swaddled or hugged tightly? This is exactly the type of sensation these blankets are meant to mimic. They also work by essentially forcing you to chill out. “All of our nervous systems are on overload, so much so that we literally need to be weighed down and basically told to rest, like we did in kindergarten,” adds Dr. Julie Von, a holistic acupuncturist in Manhattan.
I, for one, have always had the desire to be swaddled up like baby burrito, so needless to say I was very curious to get in on this trend. I tried the Therapedic Reversible Weighted Throw Blanket ($100; bedbathandbeyond.com), and first used it during my nightly couch-lounging, Bravo-binging session. Granted, this is the time of day when I’m naturally the most relaxed, and already have a tendency to pass out mid-Housewives. But that being said, I loved the blanket. It did indeed feel like I was being hugged or snuggled — a comforting, cozy, calming, totally relaxing sensation that kicked in instantly.
So, in the chilling out department, it most definitely did the trick. As far as improving sleep, sleeping problems have never really been my issue, and, as mentioned, I usually fall asleep on the couch even without a weighted blanket. The same did happen with the blanket, though it’s worth noting that I was super hot when I woke up. The added weight definitely made the blanket feel warmer, a good thing while I was lounging, but I personally found it too hot once I was asleep.
As far as choosing a weighted blanket goes (since not all are created equal), scientists generally recommend going for one that weighs about 10 percent of your body weight, says Hamm. (The one I tried weighed 10 pounds, which, without revealing my weight to the entire world, was slightly less than the 10 percent.) Still, there are other factors worth considering; for example, someone who has a harder time falling asleep can opt for a heavier weight. Bearaby offers a variety of comforters and blankets in different sizes and weights, and also has a survey you can take that will help you determine which one is best for you; Gravity Blankets also come in a variety of weights.
The bottom line for me? I’m reserving my weighted blanket for couch time instead of bedtime, but it’s most definitely become a mainstay of my nightly relaxation routine.