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Uncovering the Health Benefits of Weighted Blankets

Health Benefits of Weighted Blankets

Imagine being swaddled in comfort, feeling as though you are being hugged all night long while you sleep. This is the feeling that weighted blankets, also called “gravity blankets,” are giving many of their users. Let’s explore the potential health benefits of weighted blankets.

The best weighted blanket is made from soft materials and contains multiple chambers filled with glass beads. The beads create a layer of extra weight to envelope the sleeping person in a gentle but heavy bed covering. Most people who use them say it helps improve their sleep quality.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work?

The weighted chambers of a gravity blanket distribute just the right amount of weight across the entire body as you lie down on a bed or couch. They stimulate the pressure points around your body and reduce restlessness during sleep. Such blankets come in different weights for a more personalized experience and just the right weight for your individual needs.

Pressure Points and Deep Touch Stimulation

Each of us has deep pressure points where extra comfort feels better. Because the weight is evenly distributed across the body, this kind of deep pressure therapy can feel comforting but not too heavy and releases the same calming hormones you release when you are hugged or cradled by a loved one. The phenomenon involved in this process is called Deep Touch Stimulation (DTS).

The Benefits of Deep Pressure Stimulation

Deep touch stimulation is rooted in the idea that touch is healing and reduces stress. If such blankets are used for sleep and provide adequate DTS, you sleep better with reduced cortisol levels. Cortisol is your main stress hormone; when the level lowers, you naturally feel less stressed. In the meantime, the hormones you need for enhanced mood, including serotonin and oxytocin, are increased when you experience this type of deep touch.

For older individuals, weighted blankets and the hormones they affect can improve appetite, sleep quality, cognition, and mental health. Research on weighted blankets in the elderly does not lead to complications or discomfort as long as the individual can remove them when needed. They tend to be heavy when lifted all at once, but when placed across your body, the effect is gentle pressure and is not too heavy for most individuals.

Health Benefits of Weighted Blankets

blue weighted blanket texture detail

Weighted blanket benefits are numerous, particularly if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, PTSD, chronic pain, or restless sleep. The blankets help reduce nighttime stress, allowing for better sleep quality and improved daytime quality of living.

Improved Sleep Quality

Sleep quality is improved, particularly if you are not accustomed to sleeping alone in your bed. You can sleep better with the blanket because it can soothe pressure points and make you feel as if someone was cradling you. This type of touch “chemistry” can enhance sleep immediately with no known ill effects.

Stress and Anxiety Relief

Most of the stress and anxiety relief research has been done on those who suffer from extreme symptoms – those with a chronic anxiety disorder, ADHD, and autism. In these individuals, relief is seen immediately in the form of reduced activation at night and lower cortisol (stress) hormone levels.

Daytime anxiety is reduced as well. If you become overly stressed and can lie down somewhere, the blanket can be used instead of anti-anxiety medications.

Improved Mood

Better sleep from your weighted blanket translates into an improved mood and appetite. Older individuals with depression have been shown to have an overall improvement in depressive symptoms and to need fewer medications when they use weighted blankets instead.

Pain Relief

If you have fibromyalgia or other musculoskeletal pain, the added comfort from sleeping under a weighted blanket can mean waking up with muscles and joints that aren’t as achy. The weighted touch of a heavy blanket covers and warms the joints to help soothe all kinds of soreness and chronic pain that can interfere with sleep.


Are weighted blankets safe?

Weighted blankets have been studied in all populations – from children to the elderly. These types of sleeping blankets have no known safety issues and are well-tolerated for deep touch pressure. Some experts recommend using them gradually if needed, starting with the feet and moving up to cover the entire body over time.

In those particularly old and frail, a weighted or heavy blanket should not be doubled over sensitive areas like the chest. The added weight on the chest may impede breathing, although this is a theoretical issue. When used in a single layer, these blankets aren’t very heavy on the body.

How heavy should a weighted blanket be?

Weighted blankets distribute the weight over the entire surface. The recommended total weight of any weighted blanket should be about 10 percent of your total body weight, although you can increase the weight by 1-2 pounds if you like the extra pressure. Shared blankets of this style are around 20 to 25 pounds for a standard king or queen-sized bed.

Children who use weighted blankets can also use a blanket that is approximately 10 percent of their total body weight plus about 1-2 pounds more if it is comfortable. Do not use more than one blanket stacked on top of the other, as this interferes with air circulation, might feel too uncomfortable over time, and will not give you the calming effect you want.

Who should use a weighted blanket?

People of all ages can use weighted blankets for restful sleep or if they have sleep problems or a sleep disorder preventing them from achieving better sleep. There do not appear to be any safety issues with this type of therapeutic blanket, even in older adults, particularly if they are introduced gradually and when the correct size and weight are used.



  • Christine Traxler, M.D.

    Dr. Traxler has over 17 years of experience writing in the medical field. She specializes in medical, health and wellness, dermatology, pregnancy, nursing, and medical assisting. She has a B.S. in Biochemistry and a Medical Doctorate. Visit LinkedIn page.

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