What are The Benefits of Sleeping with a Weighted Blanket?

by Casey Ames June 24, 2019 19 Comments

sleeping with weighted blanket blog post

Fact Checked & Updated by Molly Shaw Wilson MS OTR/L BCP

While weighted blankets offer many benefits, the one most people are looking to achieve is to improve their sleep. Heavy blankets have mostly been used for those individuals with autism or sensory processing disorder, but more and more often they are being used for those individuals with sleeping disorders, like insomnia or restless leg syndrome, as well as people who simply would like to improve their sleep overall.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the studies behind weighted blankets and what they have to offer for those looking to improve their sleep. Mental health professionals are important to consult when starting a new tool or technique, occupational therapists can be helpful in choosing and implementing deep pressure stimulation tools for use at home.

  1. The Science Behind Weighted Blankets
  2. Why do Weighted Blankets Improve Sleep?
  3. How to Choose a Weighted Blanket?

     

    harkla weighted blanket

    Deep Touch Pressure: The Science Behind Weighted Blankets

    When looking at the science behind weighted blankets, you’ll often find the term deep touch pressure, often abbreviated to DTP. This term is often used interchangeably with deep pressure stimulation.

    DTP is simply a term for weight being gently and evenly distributed on the body. Most people have felt deep touch pressure in the form of a hug or massage. If you have ever felt calmed down by a hug or have had to hug your child for them to sleep, there is science behind why it works!

    Deep Touch Pressure has been shown toraise levels of serotonin in the body. There are actually afew studies backing this up at this point.

    Why is releasing serotonin important? It is a chemical that is extremely important for feeling calm, sensory processing, mood regulation, and much more.

    Releasing more serotonin along with decreasing activity in the nervous system is a great combination for calming down before bed.

    This increase in calming feelings is why weighted blankets help insomnia. Often times, simply having more serotonin can help that.

    Why Do Weighted Blankets Improve Sleep Issues

    Weighted blankets help improve sleep in a number of ways. As mentioned above, they provide a calming experience by releasing serotonin and decreasing the activity in the nervous system. They deliver a method of deep pressure stimulation to the body that is beneficial to many individuals.

    Another reason they help improve sleep is through improving the body’s release of melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical in the body that helps tell us when it’s time for bed. Melatonin release can get altered through unnatural lighting late at night or irregular sleeping schedules.

    Weighted blankets help improve melatonin because they help produce serotonin. Serotonin is a key building block for your body to create melatonin, so increasing serotonin will help your body produce melatonin. This then helps your body become on a more regular sleep schedule.

    Need more melatonin in your life? Check out Harkla's Sleep Supplements.

    The last reason weighted blankets help improve sleep is simply for the fact that they are heavier than regular blankets. By doing this, weighted blankets deliver deep pressure stimulation to the user. This extra weight decreases tossing and turning during the night and can be a great way to deal with restless leg syndrome.

    AStudy from Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders (2015) found that a weighted blanket helped those with insomnia sleep better, simply because it helped them feel more settled before bed.

    “Objectively, we found that sleep bout time increased, as well as a decrease in movements of the participants, during weighted blanket use. Subjectively, the participants liked sleeping with the blanket, found it easier to settle down to sleep, and had an improved sleep, where they felt more refreshed in the morning. Overall, we found that when the participants used the weighted blanket, they had a calmer night’s sleep.”

    child sleeping with blanket

    Another study published in theNordic Journal of Psychiatry measured the use of weighted blankets on children with ADHD. They found that in using this deep pressure stimulation tool for 14 days, study participants saw improvement in the time it took to fall asleep. Teachers of the study participants (children ages 8-13) also noted improvement in activity levels and attention span during the day.

    A journal article in theOccupational Therapy and Mental Health looked at safety measures for using weighted blankets in adults. They concluded that using a 30-pound weighted blanket in adults while lying down, was safe (determined by tracking their vital signs). Additionally, they reported effectiveness in lowering electrodermal activity (EDA), lowering feelings of anxiety, and the preference of using the blanket as a calming modality. 

    How to Choose the Right Weighted Blanket

    If you are excited about improving your sleep, then you may be wondering what you need to know about purchasing a weighted blanket.

    The first and most important thing is to make sure you get the right weight.

    weighted blanket sizing chart

    The rule of thumb is 10% of your body weight plus a pound or two. So if you are buying a blanket for an 80lb child, you'd want to go with a 10lb blanket. If you are getting a blanket for a 150lb person, then a 16 or 17lb blanket would work best.

    Something you'll want to consider when looking at blankets is what is used to weigh down the blankets. It can vary from plastic pellets to rice to glass beads.

    Another important aspect is if you can wash the blanket at home or need to take it to a dry cleaner. If it’s going to get a lot of use, then you should find an easy-to-wash blanket.

    The last factor to consider is what type of fabric you’d like, which is a personal preference.

    It is important to consult with a mental health professional, like an occupational therapist, to select and oversee the use of a weighted blanket. They can help you understand how to use it properly and evaluate its effectiveness over time.

    Conclusion

    If you have any questions about weighted blankets, please let us know in the comments! We are happy to respond and help you find the best option for your situation. You can also check out another of our articles here for even more information on the benefits of weighted blankets!

     

    Casey Ames
    Casey Ames

    Casey Ames founded Harkla in 2015 on the pursuit to create products and information that can help those with special needs live happy and healthy lives. This passion has lead Casey to help design some of the best products for those with special needs, as well as create The Harkla Blog to try and provide free information to families and caretakers.

    When Casey isn't working, you can find him backpacking through the Pacific Northwest, reading, or playing soccer.

    To learn more about Casey, the whole Harkla team, and how they work to change the lives of those with special needs, check out Harkla's About Us Page.


    19 Responses

    Nicole
    Nicole

    December 12, 2019

    Hi Mary,

    A 4-year-old is definitely not too young to use a weighted blanket. You would choose a weight that is 10% of the child’s body weight plus 1-2 pounds. Our blankets are weighted with glass beads and cotton and make the blanket feel very comfortable. If you use larger pellets to add weight it can make a blanket feel more like a bean bag. Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any other questions.

    Thank you,
    Nicole from Harkla

    Mary
    Mary

    December 12, 2019

    What is the best type of fill for 4 year old children? I have a child that has trouble getting enough sleep. Is this too young?

    Nicole
    Nicole

    June 19, 2019

    Hi Margaret,

    I’m so sorry to hear this. Sleep is so important. Have you tried melatonin to help? Some people have a lot of luck with it.

    All the best,
    Nicole from Harkla

    Margaret Harwell
    Margaret Harwell

    June 05, 2019

    I’m 62, have insomnia, anxiety & lots of stress. I can’t fall asleep….hours & hours …some nights, not at all. I do all suggested, no luck. I weigh 130 & get hot easily. Help !

    Nicole
    Nicole

    April 16, 2019

    Hi Randy,

    Yes, weighted blankets are for everyday use. Of course, if you don’t feel like using it once in a while, that’s okay. If it helps you sleep better, though, most likely you’ll want to!

    Take care,
    Nicole
    Harkla

    Randy Omdahl
    Randy Omdahl

    April 16, 2019

    Are weighted blankets for every night use?

    Nicole
    Nicole

    November 14, 2018

    Hi Bonny!

    Please reach out to us at support@harkla.co since we do not have your email address through the comments. I’m sorry about that.

    Thank you,
    Nicole
    Harkla Happiness Ninja

    Bonny
    Bonny

    November 14, 2018

    Ever since I was given prednisone to take I cannot sleep. Nothing helps me. I would love to order a blanket. I am apprehensive about the 250.00 price and it may not help me. I know how people can OD on pills when they are desperate for proper sleep. Can you help me? Send me an email please.

    Nicole
    Nicole

    November 09, 2018

    Hey Shelley and Kevin,

    Our weighted blankets are washable! The recommendation is cold water delicate cycle and low heat in the dryer or hang to dry. Let us know if you have any other questions.

    Thanks,
    Nicole
    Harkla

    Nicole
    Nicole

    November 09, 2018

    Hi Jamie,

    Just like any large blanket, if you have your toddler in the same bed as you I wouldn’t have the heavier weighted blanket on the bed or over your toddler. But having a weighted blanket in the house, placed on a bed or sofa away from your toddler, is fine and doesn’t pose any risks to your child.

    Let us know if you have any other questions,
    Nicole
    Harkla

    Nicole
    Nicole

    November 09, 2018

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for asking! If you tend to get hot and sweaty at night, our weighted blanket with the minky cover may make you warm. However, one our cool cotton covers may work well! The cotton covers are sold separately. Let us know if you have any other questions.

    All the best,
    Nicole
    Harkla

    Jamie Thiel
    Jamie Thiel

    November 08, 2018

    Are these safe to have in the house with toddlers?

    Keven Deziel
    Keven Deziel

    October 21, 2018

    I am a 55-year-old journeyman plumber and I have restless leg syndrome real bad that I take medicine for it and I have insomnia and I take Ambien for that so some nights I have to take two pills or three of the ambien just to fall a sleep some nights I have to take some hydrocodone 10 mg because I had my neck fused together and now I have six screws and a piece of titanium metal in my neck and that keeps me awake at night to because I still feel the metal in my neck and I have a tough time getting comfortable in bed and I sweat a lot at night to I wake up in Night and the morning with a wet blanket so how does your blanket wash And just wondering if it is machine washable or dry clean and the price of it
    Shelly
    Shelly

    September 09, 2018

    I’m wondering if the blank it can be washed
    Larry
    Larry

    September 09, 2018

    Hi guys, I’m having trouble falling asleep at night if the blanket I’m under gets too hot and sweaty. I’m considering a weighted blanket, but do they breath ok?

    Nicole Przychodzen
    Nicole Przychodzen

    June 07, 2018

    Hi Diane,

    You may find a weighted blanket beneficial. You can try one of ours and if it doesn’t help, let us know!

    For someone who weighs 170 pounds, the recommendation would be approximately a 20 pound blanket. You may also find a 15 pound works well.

    Thanks for reaching out!
    Nicole
    Harkla Happiness Ninja

    Nicole Przychodzen
    Nicole Przychodzen

    June 07, 2018

    Hi Vicky,

    There are probably no real benefits from laying on top of a weighted blanket, although ours is very soft and some people may find it extra nice to lay on!

    Thank you,
    Nicole
    Harkla Happiness Ninja

    Diane
    Diane

    June 06, 2018

    I am 66 year old female and have times when I can’t fall asleep. I can’t get comfortable and toss and turn. Then I tend to get anxious and will take a anti-anxiety pill. I weigh 170 pounds and would like to know if one of your weighted blankets would be helpful and if so, what weight.

    Vicky
    Vicky

    March 29, 2018

    Are there any benefits from laying on top of a weighted blanket

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