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When you need a hug or crave a cuddle but can’t make that happen, what’s a touch-starved human to do? Pile on a weighted blanket, of course.
According to devotees, the cocoon-like swaddling action makes you feel as snug as a bug in a rug — the comforting weight can be like pressing the reset button on life.
“It helps me to wind down after work,” says Amy Beth Gardner, a mental health provider in New Hampshire. “Sometimes it’s just an extra way for me to ground myself and transition from ‘work mind’ to home. It helps me to feel balanced.”
The blankets require extra materials for their heft, so they aren’t cheap — especially the ones that are knit by hand. Before you shell out for a weighted blanket for anxiety, insomnia, or simply cozy nights on the couch, find out: Do they really work?
“Weighted blankets are the new craze in the world of wellness,” says Stephanie Wijkstrom, a nationally certified counselor and founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh.
But unlike, say, a jade yoni egg, weighted blankets actually have research to back them up (and pose few risks to healthy folks).
So, if you love burrowing under the covers and feeling “grounded,” there’s little harm in trying a weighted blanket for anxiety or any other reason. How, exactly, do they help anxiety? That’s TBD, says Wijkstrom.
Part of it may be their impact on sleep. Weighted blankets have been shown to positively impact rest — using both objective and self-reported measurements.
“Some researchers speculate that it is the deeper sleep states that reduce anxiety,” she explains. “Rest unequivocally enhances mental health, and lack of rest can inversely accelerate mental health issues.”
Weighted blankets apply deep pressure stimulation, similar to hugging, acupressure, or massage. This therapeutic technique can help pain, anxiety, and mood.
“The act of sustaining deep pressure on the physical body results in the release of oxytocin and serotonin, which are highly relaxing and induce the feeling of well-being,” explains Wijkstrom.
Wijkstrom also believes weighted blankets appeal to our basic, primal need to feel safe. That “can be sated by the pressure of a weighted blanket, much like a dog who seeks the safety of a den, small enclosed spaces allow our bodies to relax into them,” she says.
Weighted blanket benefits may include:
- reduced anxiety
- lower levels of stress hormones
- better sleep (including sleep issues associated with ADHD)
- support for individuals with autism
- In general, choose a weighted blanket that’s 5 to 10 percent of your body weight and that’s no bigger than the size of your bed.
- If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 7.5 to 15 pounds. If you weigh 200 pounds, opt for a blanket that’s between 10 and 20 pounds.
- Older adults and those with mobility issues might want to choose a lighter, smaller blanket.
- The study on weighted blankets for anxiety used 30-pound blankets, so experiment with what feels right to you.
Here are the 10 best anxiety blankets to try.
These blankets are actually sold out at the moment (thanks, coronavirus!), but you may not mind waiting. Hand knit in California, Sheltered Co. blankets are as aesthetically pleasing as they are comforting and breathable.
They look and feel like a thicker, cozier version of the blankets your grandma might have crocheted. The weight is all in the fabric.
According to reviews: “Crawling into bed at night under a Sheltered Co. weighted blanket means the difference between a night of deep, restful sleep, and a night of laying awake for hours wondering when sleep will come. This blanket truly is a piece of heaven on earth.”
Starting at $365 for 15ish-pounds (42 by 54 inches)
The Classic Napper and Tree Napper from Bearaby are also in high demand as we shelter in place, and for good reason. These chunky knit blankets look lovely thrown over a couch and come in a variety of solid colors. (Stunning decor that also relieves anxiety? Yes plz.) The weight comes from the fabric — nothing heavy is added, so there’s no filling to sift back into place after each use.
According to reviews: “Resting and sleeping under this heavy blanket is an incredible experience. The weight settles over your body creating a sense of security and calmness.”
Starting at $249 for 15 pounds (40 by 72 inches)
In addition to their popular weighted blankets, which use glass beads and come with a plush microfiber cover, Gravity also offers weighted sleep masks, pillows, and sheets for a full-on cocoon experience in your bedroom.
According to one Greatist editor’s testimonial: “Pour a glass of wine, light a candle, turn on some Pixar, and mummify yourself in this bad boy. Observe as you transform into a buttery, limp, chill AF noodle by the time the movie ends.”
Starting at $189 for 15 pounds (48 by 72 inches)
The ZonLi weighted blanket looks more like a regular ol’ comforter — but you’ll feel the difference when you slide under one. Made of cotton with glass beads, this blanket is thin and breathable but still weighs you down.
According to reviews: “This blanket is very soothing… It fits perfectly over me and the weight makes me always feel tucked in.”
Starting at $49 for 20 to 30 pounds (48 by 72 inches)
Quility Blank weighted blankets are smooth underneath but delightfully tactile on top — velvety with little nubbins. They come with a removable cover and are filled with tiny glass beads that are evenly distributed throughout the blanket.
According to reviews: “This blanket is a dream — just like one big soft hug.”
Starting at $119 for 5 pounds (36 by 48 inches)
Weighted Idea blankets also come with a removable cover, so you don’t need to worry about using them while snacking on the couch. They’re 100 percent cotton and filled with glass beads. Like the ZonLi, they also look like comforters at first glance.
According to reviews: “The blanket not only helped me sleep but it was probably the best sleep I’ve ever had. The quality of the stitching is great and the duvet cover is silky soft!”
Starting at $29 for 12 pounds (blanket only, 48 by 72 inches)
Luna blankets are weighted using glass beads (this is common), and they’re made of natural, sustainable fabrics like cotton. Their blankets include layers with air channels to keep you cooler, and you can buy optional covers.
According to reviews: “The weight pockets were distributed evenly without any awkward lumps or empty spots… I totally love this blanket.”
Starting at $39.99 for 5 pounds (36 by 48 inches)
According to reviews: “I have it draped over me while I write this and it feels amazing! It doesn’t get too hot, it feels incredible, and has rejuvenated sleep for me!”
Starting at $65 for 15 pounds (48 by 72 inches)
With Rocabi weighted blankets, you can choose between plush and minky versions or one that’s cool cotton. Like most versions on the market, they’re both filled with tiny glass beads.
One bonus with this brand is that they offer patterns, instead of only solid colors.
According to reviews: “I’ve had my Rocabi weighted blanket for a few weeks now and I am definitely sleeping better. It’s cozy and the perfect weight. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I fall peacefully back to sleep.”
Starting at $129 for 20 pounds (60 by 80 inches)
Yassa weighted blankets are another knitted option that look great on a sofa or a bed. The knitted design is cooler than the bead versions, and Yassa hand-knits all their blankets.
They only offer two sizes and weights of blankets, but the brand also sells a full line of bedding, mattresses, and even adjustable beds.
According to reviews: “Oh my gosh, this blanket is a life-saver. My job causes me a lot of anxiety and now that I have this blanket I have no problems falling asleep and can relax easily.”
Starting at $249 for 15 pounds (40 by 72 inches)