A Guide to Weighted Blankets

Get the lowdown on the latest hot-ticket item in bedding: weighted blankets. Find out what they are, how they work and how to get one for yourself.

Weighted blankets are making a huge splash in the bedroom and the reason is simple: they promise a better, more restful night's sleep. If you can catch more Zzz's with something as simple as adding a heavy cover to your bed, you can see why this trend is becoming as popular as it is.

Weighted Blanket

Weighted Blanket

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

What Are They?

Weighted blankets have a fairly self-explanatory name. They are blankets that are made much heavier than a normal blanket. Depending on the size of the individual who is using them, the blankets can weigh between five and 30 pounds.

If you've ever laid on a massage table and had a warm, heavy blanket placed on you at the end, or been in the dentist's chair and breathed a deep sigh of relief when the x-ray blanket is draped over your chest, you've got a pretty good idea of how a weighted blanket may feel.

Weighted blankets are meant to help improve sleep and reduce anxiety. They can be very useful for people with sleep disorders, autism or other sensory processing disorders to help create a sense of calm.

How Do They Work?

A weighted blanket works like a warm hug to soothe the user. Just as Temple Grandin's "squeeze machine" for stressed cows, and ThunderShirts for nervous dogs, the all-over pressure of weighted blankets create several different calming effects in your body when used. It's thought that body-wide pressure provided by weighted blankets makes the body release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, just like when you receive a hug.

The firm pressure of the blanket also helps the brain release melatonin, the body's sleep hormone, and its natural mood stabilizer, serotonin. The stress hormone cortisol decreases and, ultimately, so does your stress. Add all of this together and people who use them say they experience a deep sense of relaxation, a better night's sleep, and wake up fully rested and refreshed.

Should You Make or Buy?

It's up to you whether you make or buy a weighted blanket. Making one requires weighted objects like rice or pellets and your favorite cozy blanket material. You can watch our DIY for making a simple one of your own. If you're crafty and curious if a weighted blanket will help you get a better night's sleep, give it a go!

DIY Weighted Blanket 02:19

Learn how to make a soothing, weighted blanket using rice and freezer bags.

If sewing isn't your forté, you can easily buy a weighted blanket online. However, they don't come cheap. You'll need to know your weight and be prepared to lay down a good chunk of change for a quality one.

The general rule of thumb when you're buying a weighted blanket is that you want it to weigh around 10-percent of your body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you'll want a blanket that weighs about 15 pounds. Most manufacturers and makers include a size guide when you're buying if you're worried about picking the right size.

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