If you experience claustrophobia, you may be wondering if a weighted blanket is a good idea to help with sleep and reduce anxiety.

A goldfish jumping from a crowded bowl to an empty one.

What Is Claustrophobia?


According to Healthline, claustrophobia is a situational phobia that is triggered by an irrational and intense fear of enclosed or crowded places.

Examples

For example, the sufferer may have a fear of getting trapped in an elevator, being overwhelmed in crowded shopping malls, or even getting stuck in a coat if the zipper sticks.

It Is Not a Panic Disorder

Claustrophobia is common and, even though it isn’t a panic disorder, it can feel like a panic attack at the moment.

Symptoms

Usually, a situation triggers the symptoms, which can include sweating, trembling, fear or panic, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and feeling faint or confused.

If you experience claustrophobia and want to determine if a weighted blanket is suitable in your case, it’s important to first understand what a weighted blanket is and how it works.

What Is a Weighted Blanket?


A weighted blanket is a specially designed and constructed blanket that has weight sewn into small pockets and is heavier than regular bedclothes.

A woman asleep under a comforter

Uses Deep Touch Pressure

It is meant to cover the body during sleep or rest and exposes the individual under it to deep touch pressure. The added pressure results in increased serotonin that creates calmness and helps with sleep.

This leads to the question of whether the added weight is a good idea for someone who lives with claustrophobia.

Is a Weighted Blanket Good for Claustrophobia?


Whether a weighted blanket is a good idea for someone who lives with claustrophobia is going to depend on the specific needs and circumstances of the person in question.

Does It Trigger Claustrophobia?

Obviously, if it triggers claustrophobic feelings it isn’t a good idea to use one. However, if it doesn’t produce feelings of panic, then it may reduce anxiety and improve sleep.

The general rule of thumb for sizing a weighted blanket is to use 10% of your body weight, give or take a couple of pounds.

Image of a weight scale with a measuring tape around it

Is the Required Weight Too Much?

To get the appropriate size blanket, depending on your body weight, you could be resting under as much as 25 or 30 pounds. Depending on the individual, that much added weight could be a trigger for more feelings of anxiety and panic.

Those types of feelings would be the opposite of what a weighted blanket is normally expected to produce for the user.

How Do You Respond to the Weight?

If you’re interested in using a weighted blanket for the reported benefits, it will depend on how you feel with a significant weight covering your body.

Weighted blankets are generally most effective when they cover the whole body from feet to shoulders, so it’s important to take into consideration that your whole body will be covered by the added weight.

Consultation with your doctor or therapist, and taking into account your particular reactions, can help you decide if a weighted blanket is a good idea with your experience of claustrophobia.

How to Try a Weighted Blanket If You Don’t Own One


A common concern for people who don’t already own a weighted blanket is, “How do I know how I’ll react if I don’t own a weighted blanket?”

There are a couple of things you can do to determine how you might react to a weighted blanket:

  • Ask someone you know who owns one if you can try it out.
  • Order one from a manufacturer that has a good return policy.
  • Think about how you react in situations with pressure on your body, such as the x-ray vest in the dentist’s office, a firm hug from another person, or heavy bedclothes on the bed.
  • How do you feel if you visualize laying under a heavy weight?

You can use your previous experience to help you determine if having a weight covering your entire body has the potential to be a trigger for claustrophobic feelings.


Whether a person who experiences claustrophobia should use a weighted blanket is going to be a very individual choice based on the many factors outlined above.

Do your research, consult with your physician, and weigh your personal circumstances to help you make the decision that’s best in your case.

If you do feel that a weighted blanket is appropriate for you, we have two recommended choices:

The Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket (A Personal Review)

The YnM Weighted Blanket Review

4 thoughts on “Weighted Blankets and Claustrophobia”

  1. I actually didn’t realise that a weighed blanket could cause claustrophobia, but I guess it depends on how bad the claustrophobia really is, doesn’t it? Those blankets are really so very comfortable.

    Would it help if a claustrophobic person used the weighted blanket on only his/her legs, for example, so that he or she still has the feeling of being able to “escape” this space?

    You give some good tips on trying out a weighted blanket if you don’t own one. Asking a friend who owns one to let you try it out is great idea. I don’t suffer from claustrophobia, but I will surely keep this in mind, because I know two people who are claustrophobic.

    Your article just taught me how to help them, in a way, at least with weighted blankets. It is winter now, so weighted blankets are probably high in demand at the moment. I will talk about this with my friends and show them your article.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christine.

      Yes, the individual with claustrophobia is really the only one who will know if they can use a weighted blanket adequately to get the benefits. So, it might work to drape it across their legs, and it might not.

      Actually, weighted blankets are in demand all year around because it’s not as much about being warm as about getting better sleep and less anxiety from the deep touch pressure (DTP).

      That’s why some manufacturers have developed special cooling weighted blankets that still have the weight but are designed to create less heat buildup. They work better in summer, warmer climates, and for hot sleepers and women in menopause.

      Stella

  2. What a very informative article! I would’ve never thought of using a weighted blanket to help with claustrophobia. I see that you want to be careful that it doesn’t trigger it. I do want to give a weighted blanket a try and now know that sizing a weighted blanket should be at least 10% of your body weight. Can a weighted blanket be used to help calm those with other phobias. I sometimes suffer from claustrophobia in large crowds of people, but I also suffer from ligyrophobia which is a fear of loud noises, but I greatly fear certain loud noises, not all of them. 

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Brian.

      Yes, for those with claustrophobia, using a weighted blanket should be approached with caution. It’s the type of product that could trigger the feelings.

      However, for other phobias, it’s possible that a weighted blanket could help because using one is known to reduce anxiety, and most phobias produce feelings of panic or distress. But since a weighted blanket is used at night, and mainly for sleep, it’s difficult to know if it would help “in the moment” for a phobia.

      Great question.
      Stella

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