Do you want to get better sleep? If so, you’ve probably read everything there is to know about getting a good night’s rest. Avoid blue light when it’s time to go to bed. Go see a doctor if you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. If you’ve tried everything, go see a therapist. However, you may not be entirely in the loop when it comes to getting good sleep, and one of the newer ways to get a good night’s rest is to get a weighted blanket.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket, also known by the genericized term of Gravity Blanket, is a blanket that is heavy. You can expect a weighted blanket to weigh anywhere from 15, 25, or even more pounds.
The weighted blanket has been around for quite a while, with it having a history in therapy. DPS, or deep pressure stimulation, was a method of treating children with anxiety and sensory issues. The idea is that by compressing your body, you feel calmer, almost like you’re in the womb. We swaddle babies to make them sleep better, so why stop there? This was the idea of this therapy treatment.
Soon, weighted blankets went beyond a therapy treatment and became a household item. They’re great gifts, or great if you want to have a better night’s rest. But how do they work?
How They Work
Weighted blankets use a method, as we mentioned before, called DPS (deep pressure stimulation,) also known as deep pressure therapy, or DTP. The concept is that when you have a weighted blanket, it releases serotonin, a chemical associated with happiness.
If you have trouble sleeping, you may feel anxious and your mind may race. For some, it’s the pressures of the next day. For others, it may be sleep anxiety. You may feel hyped up after a long day and find it hard to wind down. Or, you may have a mental condition that makes it hard.
Whatever the reason, a weighted blanket may help you relax at night and get to sleep faster. As part of a healthy sleep ritual, weighted blankets may help you.
What Does the Science Say?
Sleep is an interesting concept to study because everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another, and there’s always exceptions to the rule. For example, some people like unwinding with watching videos on a computer despite the fact that screens can inhibit sleep. Some people can sleep in a loud room and have trouble falling asleep in a quiet one.
The studies on weighted blankets have been sparse. Some of the studies seem favorable, or at least reveal that the people who slept in them prefer the weighted blanket. There is no smoking gun yet, but if you are having trouble sleeping, buying a weighted blanket will definitely not hurt.
If you like piling blankets on top of you, like cuddles, and like to keep warm, weighted blankets are worth the purchase.
Choosing the Best Weighted Blanket
When picking a weighted blanket, you may be intimidated by the options. There are many types of blankets out there, and they all come at different prices. Weighted blankets tend to be much more expensive than a regular blanket, but a name-brand Gravity Blanket may cost much more than a lesser known brand. Instead of choosing by brand, there are a few other factors you may want to pick from, such as:
Picking the weight is important as well. Many people seem to get the best results between a blanket that is 7-12 percent of their body weight. The best ballpark number is 10 percent. If you weigh 150 or you’re in that range, picking a blanket that weighs 15 pounds is your best bet. All blankets should have their weight on them, making it easier for you to choose.
What makes a blanketed weighted is the materials inside of it. Different blankets will have different materials used to give it weight, but there are three main types. There’s plastic poly pellets, steel shot beads, and micro glass beads.
Plastic poly pellets (try saying that three times fast,) are pebble-sized plastic beads. These beads are non-toxic and tend to be the cheapest. A good blanket that uses these pellets will even them out and keep your blanket uncomfortable, but some blankets are made to feel a bit lumpy.
These pellets may smell as well, but that goes away. Choosing pellets made from virgin polypropylene is your best option. Also, they need to be able to handle being washed. Some blankets are harder to wash than others.
Then, there’s micro glass beads. These are smaller than the poly pellets, allowing for a more even feeling. These blankets feel smoother and allow for a better night’s sleep.
Finally, you have heat-treated steel shot beads, tiny balls of steel. This is another material that allows for a smoother experience.
Some blankets may use a sand-like material as well. It all depends on which blanket you choose.
Being able to wash your weighted blanket is important. Before you choose, always make sure that your blanket is washable. Some have a removable cover so that you can wash it easier. For others, you may have to load the entire blanket in there, which can be quite annoying to dry.
Most weighted blankets aren’t going to be king-sized, but there are some bigger ones.
You may want to share one with your partner, or the both of you have your own weighted blanketed. Either way, size is something to think about.
Weighted blankets have had a history with treating kids with ADHD, but you need to make sure you buy a blanket designed for kids. We do not recommend them for toddlers or younger. Always talk to your pediatrician as well to make sure the weighted blanket is right for your child. While they are generally safe, there has been some misuse with these blankets.
Is it For You?
As we said, everyone sleeps differently, and a weighted blanket may help you, or it may not work for your routine. Honestly, we say that it’s worth trying out. With websites like Amazon, it’s easy to order a blanket, try it out for a few nights, then return it if you’re not satisfied. It’s an investment; expect to pay at least $50 for a good one, but for many who are dealing with restless nights, that’s a small price to pay for being more alert and getting the best sleep possible.
Alaska Sleep Clinic is Alaska's premier independent diagnostic testing facility for sleep disorders. Learn more about us here...
Guest Author Bio: Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.