Anxiety. It’s like that moment when you tip your chair too far back and have a mini heart attack.
Except that feeling is happening all day.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve learnt a handful of ways to deal with your anxiety symptoms.
Some are super handy and others feel like a big fat waste of time.
You’re tired of preparing for battle every time you get into bed, so you’re looking for a new way to help and you think a weighted blanket for anxiety might be the answer.
It sounds too good to be true and you’re really not sure who to trust.
Don’t worry. We've got you covered.
After reading this guide, you’ll know:
- If weighted blankets for anxiety ACTUALLY work
- How it’s even possible to be squished into calmness
- How to decide if a weighted blanket is right for you
Do They Work? (Like... REALLY)
We'll be totally honest with you.
The studies are too small to draw any scientific conclusions on weighted blankets.
In one study of 32 adult volunteers, 63% reported lower anxiety after lying under a 30-pound blanket for 5 minutes.
We can’t promise you that a weighted blanket is going to work for you and anyone who does is full of you can guess what.
The good news?
There aren’t any studies that say that weighted blankets don’t work.
We can only go by the word of weighted blanket users who struggle with anxiety:
Keep in mind that weighted blanket is a tool for relaxation and stress relief. NOT an evidence-based treatment for Anxiety.
Why do people swear that weighted blankets work for anxiety?
Well, when your brain is under attack your fight or flight response is in full swing.
Your heart beats faster. Your hormones are wild and out of control.
When you’re feeling like that and somebody wraps their arms around you, what do you feel?
A surge of calmness.
That’s exactly how weighted blankets work.
Hundreds of weighted beads apply a gentle, even pressure on your body that mimic the feeling of being held.
Science calls this “Deep Touch Pressure Therapy” but we think, “Magic” is a more fitting name.
Fight or Flight to Rest & Digest ✈️
Deep touch pressure is said to turn down your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and switch on its chill twin; the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
Letting rest and digest mode take charge slows your heart rate and tells the brain that it’s time to restore the hormones responsible for happiness, sleep and focus:
- Serotonin - The happy, motivational hormone
- Melatonin - The hormone responsible for sleep
I hope all these big brainy words don’t scare you away.
With healthy levels of serotonin your mood becomes stable, calm and you'll feel a better overall sense of well-being.
If you struggle with insomnia, check out our article on weighted blankets for insomnia
Can a Weighted Blanket Be Too Heavy? 🏋🏼♀️
Too much of anything is bad.
Most occupational therapists and brands recommend using a blanket that’s 10% of your body weight.
Some prefer to go a weight class up or down which is generally fine.
Try not to get too brave though, you’ll run into some serious problems.
If your blanket is too heavy (more than 12kg), then you’re going to do more harm than good.
There’s no extra benefit to doing this.
More importantly, it’s uncomfortable (kind of defeats the point of using one in the first place).
You’ll find it harder to breathe, you’ll get unbearably hot and you’ll probaly wake up with sore joints in the morning.
If you are a first-time blanket buyer with anxiety, buy a blanket that is roughly 10% of your body weight.
Are Weighted Blankets Completely Safe?
Using a weighted blanket for anxiety is extremely unlikely to cause any harm.
If you have been diagnosed with any other conditions including circulatory or respiratory problems, you should speak with your doctor before you get into bed with a weighted blanket.
It may take some time to get used to the additional weight and that’s nothing to be concerned about.
Politely introduce your new blanket friend to the rest of your sleep habits. Your mind and body will adjust to a new, better way of sleeping in no time.
Children are much more delicate.
You should take extra care when buying a kids weighted blanket.
We don’t recommend allowing a weighted blanket to be used by anyone under the age of 5.
Definitely DO supervise your child if they are going to use a weighted blanket.
Don’t let the blanket cover their head or neck.
Don’t wrap them up like a tightly packed burrito either.
In particular, you should never let your child use a weighted blanket if they have:
- Respiratory (breathing) problems
- Cardiac (heart) problems
- Serious hypotonia (low tone)
- Circulatory Problems
As a general rule of thumb, if an adult or child cannot freely take the blanket off of the body without help then it is not safe for use.
How Long do They Take to Start Working? ⏰
I understand that you’re exhausted.
You want to see results immediate and fast.
Think long term.
Making steady progress day by day is what generates real results. This is the power of slow.
How long exactly until I start to notice a difference?
Truth be told, there’s no definite answer.
It depends on your personal sleeping habits.
Some blanket users felt calming effects instantly.
Others take time to adjust and some just don’t respond to pressure therapy at all 🙁.
Relaxing under your weighted blanket consistently is the best way to develop healthier sleeping patterns and reap the long-term rewards.
What if I'm Claustrophobic?
Claustrophobia is a tricky subject.
If you suffer with claustrophobia quite badly, then I’d avoid weighted blankets like the plague.
If you’re not sure how your body will respond to a heavy blanket, try throwing as many clothes over your body as you can and see how you feel.
If your head is free you may still feel comfortable.
Will a Weighted Blanket Make Me Feel Hot? 🥵
You can still enjoy a weighted blanket if you're a hot sleeper.
Afterall, anxiety doesn’t just switch off in the summer.
A heavier blanket will definitely make you feel a little warmer than a normal duvet.
Using a cheap, low quality blanket is a recipe for a sweat-soaked night of tossing and turning.
Here are a few things you can look out for if you’re worried about feeling too hot:
- Filling – Brands need to stuff more plastic/sand into a blanket to make up the additional weight, making them thicker and less breathable. Look out for a blanket made with glass beads or no filling (knitted).
- Pockets – Use a weighted blanket with quilted pockets that keep the beads evenly spread and prevent hot spots.
- Fabrics – Cotton is a natural, breathable fabric whereas minky and fleece are softer, and will trap more heat under the blanket.
Are Weighted Blankets Bad for Circulation?
Unless you have pre-existing blood circulation problems or diabetes, a weighted blanket will not affect your blood circulation or your pulse/heart rate.
You should follow weight recommendations if you are worried about this.
Speak to your doctor if you have any serious concern.
Which Weighted Blanket is Best for Anxiety?
It’s easy to get blinded by fancy marketing and unreasonable claims.
Take a deep breath.
Ignore the useless fluff.
Remember, this is about you and your anxiety.
No two cases of anxiety are equal, and the same can be said for weighted blankets.
Here’s my list of the most important points to consider when buying a weighted blanket for anxiety.
One of the more crucial considerations is even distribution of weight.
From corner to corner, not a single section should sag or bunch up.
When you roll over or move the blanket, the pressure should adjust naturally to your position.
If the filling of the blanket starts to bunch up and fall into the corners, you’re going to have a VERY uncomfortable experience.
How will I know if the weight is evenly distributed?
Blankets with quilted pockets are designed to guarantee an even distribution of weight.
Each pocket houses a very specific amount of weight that is locked into place.
The smaller the pockets, the better.
When the blanket moves, the filing (in our case glass beads) can only move inside the pocket itself.
Bad quality blankets are completely packed with plastic beads that have the freedom to move anywhere.
You could also opt for a knitted weighted blanket that will not contain any fillers at all.
Glass beads are heavier than plastic pellets. They are also smaller, so they take up less space in the blanket.
The finished product is thinner, more breathable and better for the environment than those made with plastic pellets.
Blankets made with plastic beads are usually bulkier and make a lot more noise.
This doesn’t affect the therapeutical benefits of the blanket though.
Organic cottons and natural materials are the most breathable fabrics. Polyester is denser and will make you warmer.
It is a good idea to invest in a double-sided blanket or a blanket with a removable cover so that you can take advantage of both materials.
Why Are Some Weighted Blankets So Expensive? 💰
Here’s the kicker.
If you buy a cheap weighted blanket, you probably aren’t going to experience some of the benefits that other anxiety sufferers rave about.
Of course, just because something is more expensive, it doesn’t automatically make it better.
Find a balance that suits you and ensure you think carefully about what you are trying to achieve.
The best advice I can give you is this.
Do not be stingy about investing in your sleep and the quality of your life.
You’ll save thousands in increased productivity, improved health and better decision making.
There’s a difference between a good weighted blanket and a bad one.
Weighted blankets can help relieve some of your anxiety symptoms as long as you:
- Maintain other healthy lifestyle habbits
- Buy a blanket that is well made and breathable
You’ve got this!
If you have any questions or additional thoughts, feel free to share them with me below.