Weighted blankets have become more popular recently, with marketers claiming that these blankets can improve sleep and serve as a remedy for anxiety.

Over the shoulder shot of senior medical scientist working with CT brain scan images on a computer in a laboratory.

As it turns out, the science behind weighted blankets suggests that these claims are actually true. Weighted blanket studies tell just how beneficial these products can be and answer the question, “Why do weighted blankets work?”

What Is a Weighted Blanket?


A weighted blanket is a specially designed blanket that has weight, commonly glass beads, sewn into small pockets to produce pressure on the body while sleeping.

This pressure creates the principle of deep touch pressure (DTP), which is why a weighted blanket can improve the sleep experience for many people.

Let’s take a further look at the science behind this effect.

The Principle of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP)


Weighted blankets are believed to work because of a principle called deep touch pressure (DTP). Some research with patients having dental surgery shows that DTP has a beneficial effect on the nervous system during stressful situations.

This may be the reason that weighted blankets are reported to reduce insomnia and anxiety. Weighted blankets apply deep pressure to the body, which can be expected to have a calming effect.

Feels Like the Dentist X-Ray Vest

Some people say that the pressure from a weighted blanket feels like the weight of the heavy protective vest used to cover your body when you get an X-Ray at the dentist.

Man with radiation protection vest receiving dental X-Ray at a dentist.

DTP and Feel-Good Hormones

Another benefit of DTP is that it can have a positive effect on body chemistry. Touch increases levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that is responsible for regulating mood and sleep.

It also decreases the stress hormone cortisol. By applying deep pressure, weighted blankets can impact body chemistry in a way that promotes improved sleep and reduced anxiety.

Studies on Weighted Blankets and Sleep


Weighted blankets are believed to work because of DTP and their beneficial impact on both the nervous system and body chemistry, and studies on sleep have shown that these benefits are real.

People Sleep Longer and Move Less

One study, published in 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders, found that when people used weighted blankets, they slept longer, moved less during sleep, and reported that they slept better and felt more refreshed in the morning.

Good for ADHD and Mood Disorders

Weighted blankets may be particularly useful for people who have a mental health condition.

A study carried out in Stockholm, Sweden, showed that among people with ADHD or mood disorders, weighted blankets significantly improved insomnia and cut the time it took to fall asleep by 40 minutes.

Based on weighted blanket studies, the science behind weighted blankets truly is effective for promoting restful sleep.

Our son, who is a hot sleeper, has ADHD and anxiety disorder and finds benefits from using a cooling weighted blanket by Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blankets.

Woman sleeping with an eye mask on.

Studies Involving Weighted Blankets and Anxiety


Weighted blanket studies also show that these products are highly effective for improving anxiety.

In fact, a report published by researchers at Northwestern College Department of Nursing indicates that multiple studies have found that deep pressure touch via weighted blankets is an effective remedy for anxiety.

Weighted Blankets Can Decrease Anxiety

One such study supporting the use of weighted blankets found these products to be beneficial for adults receiving inpatient treatment for mental health problems.

Study results, which were published in a 2015 edition of Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, found that the majority of patients enjoyed considerable decreases in anxiety with the use of weighted blankets.

Other Science Behind Weighed Blankets


While there have been weighed blanket studies that directly evaluate their benefits, additional research that doesn’t necessarily include the direct study of weighted blankets still suggests that these are useful devices.

Avoid the Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation

For example, a 2017 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that just one night of sleep deprivation made it more difficult for men to recover from an intense exercise session.

By improving sleep, weighted blankets may promote muscle recovery from exercise or intense physical labor.

Body Compression Helps Recovery from Physical Activity

Weighted blankets may also be useful because of the compression they apply to the body. A 2010 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that full-body compression helped people to recover from intense weight training.

This adds to the evidence that weighted blankets can help the muscles recover from intense activity.

A person sleeping under a duvet with running shoes on.

The Safety of Weighted Blankets


Beyond the benefits of muscle recovery, sleep, and anxiety, weighted blankets are effective products because they come with little to no risk.

Weighted Blankets are Confirmed to be Safe

Weighted blanket studies have confirmed that these blankets are, in fact, safe to use.

For example, the 2015 study in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health found that a 30-pound weighted blanket was safe, as it did not cause any changes in vital signs like blood pressure or heart rate.

Based on the weighted blanket research, these products provide benefits such as reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and enhanced muscle recovery, without any significant adverse effects.

Some Cautions to Using Weighted Blankets

While weighted blankets are considered a safe way to improve sleep and decrease anxiety, there are a couple of cautions to keep in mind.

Weighted blankets should never restrict the person using them. They should always be able to get under and out from under the blanket using their own strength.

Also, weighted blankets are not recommended for infants under one year of age. And, you should always take care with using one if small children and pets share your bed.


Overall, those who are looking for a natural remedy for improved sleep and other ailments can turn to weighted blankets with the knowledge that they are generally considered a safe, effective treatment for sleep and anxiety issues.

6 thoughts on “What Is the Science Behind a Weighted Blanket?”

  1. My wife and i actually own 2 weighted blankets from Wal-Mart. They are amazing my wife has anxiety and has trouble taking pills so we searched for another option. So we got one from Wal-Mart and now bought another. They truly do work it feels like a hug and you feel much more relaxed. It was nice to learn why this seems to work so well. Thank you for the very informative article!

    1. We’re glad you find your weighted blankets useful, and that you found this post informative.

      Enjoy your sleep and rest.
      Stella

  2. A weighted blanket is great. I sleep all year round with a weighted blanket because of its therapeutic benefits just like you mentioned: reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and enhancing muscle recovery. So amazing. I will recommend for anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a computer monitor to try it. You’ll be refreshed by the time you wake up.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. We’re glad to hear you enjoy the benefits of a weighted blanket. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the information. Yes, they work well for relief in many different situations.

      Stella

  3. A very informative and refreshing article. I enjoyed reading it, imagining myself in the comfort of one of these blankets. I have never used one, because personally, I do not face such problems. If you give me a blanket that can do massage all night, I will definitely be the first buyer.☺

    As I do insomnia therapy with my clients, I should give them the tip to use a weighted blanket. They will definitely come out much cheaper financially.😂

    In any case, leaving the jokes aside and returning to the subject, insomnia has become a general problem and has increased very much, due to an inappropriate lifestyle. In exchange for the consumption of pills for insomnia, I would definitely recommend weighted blankets.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Diana. We’re glad you liked the information, and it could potentially help some of your clients with their insomnia.

      Stella

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