For some, weighted blankets are the "holy grail" of solutions for insomnia, anxiety, neurological disorders and so much more. Here, we’ll share the studies and findings when it comes to the health and lifestyle-improving benefits of weighted blankets.
Overview: What Can a Weighted Blanket Do For You?
You might be surprised by all the benefits of weighted blankets! While they’re known for providing an instant feeling of calm and stress-relief, they can also help ease sensory processing disorders, help you battle insomnia and even ease fibromyalgia pain.
What are Weighted Blankets?
First, let's address what a weighted blanket actually is. A weighted blanket is just that—a blanket with extra weight added, typically using pellets or beads. When you drape the blanket over yourself, the extra weight delivers therapeutic "deep pressure stimulation," which contributes to many health and lifestyle benefits. Weighted blankets are typically 5 to 30 pounds, and come in a variety of sizes.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
A comforting weighted blanket is meant to have just enough heaviness to give you the sense of being hugged. Three main factors contribute to the effectiveness of weighted blankets: the simulation of a hug, serotonin production and resulting melatonin production. Let’s dig a little deeper into these attributes before unveiling the 10 health-boosting benefits!
Simulates a Hug
With each hug you receive (or give), your body releases oxytocin, or what some people call "the love drug." Oxytocin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter released through everyday human touch, as well as during birth and parent-baby bonding. Under the right circumstances, oxytocin has the power to regulate your emotional responses, including trust and empathy, by slowing down your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure.
Triggers Serotonin Production
Research has shown that applying pressure on specific points on the body can trigger the production and release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin helps you perform vital emotional and cognitive functions, which affect your overall wellbeing and mood. With low serotonin levels linked to depression, a weighted blanket may provide the pressure needed to elevate serotonin to reduce stress and pain.
Releases Natural Melatonin
Melatonin, or the key to healthy sleep, is directly related to serotonin production. With the pressure of a weighted blanket, you’ll receive a boost in melatonin production due to increased serotonin, thus helping with sleep disorders of all kinds.
Benefits of Weighted Blankets
Now that you understand what a weighted blanket is, how it works, and the three main functions that contribute to its health-boosting qualities, let’s run through the 10 health-boosting benefits!
1. Battles Insomnia
Research has shown that deep touch pressure stimulation promotes the release of serotonin, a chemical that converts to melatonin (the sleep hormone). Weighted blankets can provide this firm yet gentle pressure anytime you need it, which could mean blissful sleep more often.
2. Helps Ease Sensory Processing Disorder
Studies have found that weighted blankets can produce a "calming effect" in adults and children with sensory processing disorder (or SPD for short). SPD is marked by an under-sensitivity or oversensitivity to outside influences such as sounds, sights, smells and textures. A weighted blanket provides calming pressure and serotonin production to alleviate the often comorbid anxiety that SPD causes.
3. Provides Drug-Free Pain Relief
If you live with a chronic pain condition, hopping on the pharmaceutical bandwagon may not be your first choice. Luckily, weighted blankets are a 100% natural and drug-free way to keep aches and pains at bay. In fact, a 2021 study successfully demonstrated that widespread pressure from a 15-lb. weighted blanket can reduce the severity of chronic pain, offering an accessible, at-home solution for those who prefer a drug-free route to relief.
4. Helps Those With ADHD
In 2016, the CDC found that 9% of children and 4-5% of adults in the US alone had ADHD. Creating solutions for this chronic condition is more important than ever. ADHD is a neurological disorder marked by inattentive behavior that can cause hyperactivity, impulsiveness, forgetfulness and disruption. Fortunately, the lack of focus caused by ADHD may be calmed with a weighted blanket and the resulting deep pressure stimulation. A 2001 study showed that on-task behavior increased by 18-25% in students with ADHD who wore a weighted vest (which exerts the same deep touch pressure as weighted blankets).
5. Relieves Autism Spectrum Symptoms
Autism functions on a spectrum, with many different symptoms presenting in those diagnosed with this neurodevelopmental disorder. Some common autism symptoms include repetitive movement, sensitivity to touch, sound and light, and feelings of distress. According to Harvard, massage or touch therapy, like that provided by a weighted blanket, can help those on the autism spectrum feel safe, relaxed and calm. Touch therapy helps because it alters your body's biochemistry by decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone) and increasing dopamine and serotonin.
6. Alleviates Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome (or RLS) can keep you up at night and makes traveling a challenge. Many people with RLS report a tingling sensation in the legs that makes them feel like they need to constantly get up and move around, especially when resting. People struggling with restless legs syndrome often find relief by compressing the legs with specially designed socks. But the problem is many of these socks are uncomfortable and tight. Instead, some RLS sufferers swear by a weighted blanket as it can encourage stillness.
Pro tip: Try pairing an adjustable base with your weighted blanket to help further ease the symptoms of RLS.
7. Quiets Anxiety
Research has shown that people who sleep under a weighted blanket wake up feeling more refreshed and less anxious. Because fatigue is known to trigger panic disorders, a good night's sleep is a valuable tool when it comes to managing it. Just as a reassuring hug can calm you, a weighted blanket provides the same pressure to simulate being held. In addition, the serotonin stimulated by the weighted blanket will help calm and ease stress, anxiety and panic. A 2020 randomized clinical trial even found that chemotherapy patients reported reduced anxiety when a weighted blanket was used during treatment.
8. Eases Fibromyalgia Pain
Fibromyalgia is a disease-causing chronic condition that appears in at least 11 to 18 pain points in the body. The debilitating pain can cause a sufferer to constantly move in search of relief, which causes sleep disruption. Since there are so few conventional treatments available and no cure, many people with fibromyalgia have turned to weighted blankets for comfort. A weighted blanket can help calm pain and flare-ups, improve mood and trigger melatonin production for a great night of sleep.
Pro tip: Pair your weighted blanket with a hybrid mattress that combines supportive springs and contouring memory foam like our GhostBed Flex for added sleeping comfort with fibromyalgia.
9. Calms Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) affects those struck by challenging life events like war, a divorce, an injury and even the birthing process. Because PTSD, depression and insomnia are connected, a weighted blanket offers a drug-free alternative to treating PTSD by naturally reducing blood pressure and pulse rates while helping to produce the serotonin needed to improve mood.
10. Soothes and Lifts Mood
We may not all deal with constant depression, but most of us have routine ups and downs as everyday life takes its tolls. For those times of need, a soothing hug after a hard day can be just what you need to turn everything around. Covering yourself with a calming, sleep-inducing weighted blanket could improve your mood, resulting in a 100% natural pick-me-up.
Benefit From a Weighted Blanket Today
Suppose you've decided that a weighted blanket is just what the doctor ordered. In that case, we suggest picking up the GhostBed Weighted Blanket. This luxurious queen size blanket clocks in at an agreeable 15 pounds, which we’ve found to be the “sweet spot” for most adults. Plus, with its breathable and cooling TENCEL™ cover, you can enjoy the weight—not the warmth. Click the link below to learn more!
Experience the cooling & calming sensation of our 15-pound Weighted Blanket, made with a 100% TENCEL™ cover and a durable 5-layer quilted design.