The Science Behind Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets have become increasingly popular among people living with anxiety and sleep disorders. These blankets are designed much like down comforters except that they include plastic pellets to achieve a desired weight, from a few pounds for children and up to 25 pounds for adults. 

Those struggling with these ailments have come to swear by the soothing, calming effect of using a weighted blanket. They claim — anecdotally — that weighted blankets’ pressure relaxes them. Persons often compare using a weighted blanket to the way a hug feels, in the sense that the consistent, even pressure soothes and relaxes. This is at least supported to some extent scientifically. Studies have shown hugs to have health benefits including possibly aiding in warding off sickness so there must be something to weighted blankets, right? Studies measuring sleep health and sleep disorders are scarce but they offer glimmers of hope.

Already At Work

Despite the science not being completely settled, weighted blankets are already at work in mental health facilities. In fact, there have been instances in which a weighted blanket helped patients avoid being restrained due to their calming effects. In a rare turn of events, clinicians have begun to incorporate weighted blankets into their treatments despite a lack of peer-reviewed evidence. 

They have relied on their own observations to make the judgment call of using weighted blankets as a part of administering care. Part of what makes weighted blankets so intriguing is that they are widely accessible and don’t require a prescription. An object that has the potential to provide such astounding relief is particularly attractive to those treating anxiety as they are accustomed to many of their symptoms being treated through pharmaceuticals. Those seeking relief from sleep disorders report similar effects. The constant pressure helps them to relax and slip into a deep REM cycle.

So What Does Science Say?

The science behind exactly why or how using a weighted blanket provides relief is still very much under review. While many clinicians agree that they observe improvements for everything from sleep health to anxiety relief, the completed studies to date have been inconclusive. Some have not been able to distinguish between whether it was the blanket or the act of laying down that produced a calming effect for anxiety. 

What has been agreed upon is that there are sleep health benefits. With the pressure applied by weighted blankets, the body releases serotonin and dopamine. This allows the body to relax and settle into a state of rest and relaxation.

However, beyond what has been observed, there are few studies that definitively show that weighted blankets improve sleep quality or cure sleep disorders.

Find Your Sleep Solution

At Whitney Sleep we are committed to finding solutions for sleep disorders to ensure you get the best sleep of your life. From consultations to overnight and home sleep testing and more, we identify what is causing you to lose sleep. Once we understand the underlying cause, we partner with you to create a program that resolves the issues so you can get the rest you need. 

No matter what your sleep disorder is — snoring, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, RLS or insomnia — Whitney Sleep is ready to help you get your sleep back. If you are ready to take control of your sleep, schedule an appointment today!