Do weighted blankets really actually work?


Written by:

After a long day, few things feel more relaxing than a comfortable bed and a cozy blanket—except maybe a comfortable bed and an even cozier blanket. Weighted blankets, 5- to 25-pound covers designed to promote sleep by reducing stress and anxiety, are becoming increasingly popular in bedrooms across the country.

Why would adding a little bit of extra weight to your blanket help you doze off and get a good night’s sleep? Let’s explore what exactly weighted blankets are and some of their individual benefits. 

What are weighted blankets?

A weighted blanket (also known as a “gravity blanket”) is exactly what the name suggests: a heavy blanket with a certain type of “fill” to add weight. Typically, weighted blankets are filled with glass beads, plastic pellets or grains like rice and buckwheat. This makes them much heavier than traditional bedding. 

Many people describe weighted blankets as bedding that makes you feel secure, similar to the feeling of being hugged. This can help you calm down at the end of the night and lull you to sleep. Weighted blankets offer the same comfort and security you got from being tucked in tight as a kid. 

How do weighted blankets work? 

We aren’t sure exactly how weighted blankets work and why they’re so calming. But most sleep experts believe the benefits boil down to what’s called “deep pressure stimulation” or “deep pressure therapy,” the same sensation babies get from swaddling. Pressure, which makes you feel grounded in your sleep surface, can help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol has negative effects on your melatonin production and can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Pressure can also help increase the production of serotonin, the calming hormone. Some research also finds deep pressure stimulation can reduce arousal of the sympathetic nervous system (aka the “fight-or-flight” response) and increase calming parasympathetic arousal.

Advantages of using a weighted blanket

There are numerous benefits to using a weighted blanket over traditional bedding. For starters, weighted blankets provide a calming effect, which can help improve certain health conditions, like anxiety and depression. What’s more, using a weighted blanket for deep touch pressure can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, allowing you to calm down so you can fall asleep more easily. 

Weighted blankets can help with the following:

  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Relieve the perception of chronic pain
  • Calm the parasympathetic nervous system 
  • Improve symptoms of autism spectrum disorders

Who could benefit from sleeping with a weighted blanket?

The calming effects of a weighted blanket can benefit almost everybody. However, there are quite a few types of people who could benefit more than others, including:

  • Adults with anxiety and depression
  • Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) 
  • Children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Adults suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia

Let’s explore how these individual groups of people can greatly benefit from using a weighted blanket.

1. Adults with anxiety and depression

According to published scientific research, the deep pressure stimulation you experience while lying under a weighted blanket can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, which are responsible for a lot of anxiety symptoms. Using a weighted blanket can also help increase the production of serotonin, the hormone that stabilizes your mood and feelings.

This can help reduce symptoms of depression, according to research. Overall, a weighted blanket can be a great product to incorporate into your self-care routine as a way to take care of your mental health. It can help lower anxiety and make it easier for you to get the sleep you need to feel your best.  

2. Children with autism spectrum disorders

Many children with autism spectrum disorders have trouble sleeping. In fact, they often sleep less than neurotypical children. Weighted blankets can help young children with autism spectrum disorders and other sensory processing disorders fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. Research shows deep pressure therapy has been successful in calming down symptoms of ASDs. Because weighted blankets mimic deep pressure therapy, they may have similar effects. 

3. Children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

People with ADHD often report trouble falling and staying asleep. Children and adults with ADHD can benefit from using a weighted blanket at night. Studies show weighted vests can help improve symptoms of ADHD in both young children and adults. Because weighted blankets emulate deep pressure therapy in the same way as weighted vests, they may have similar effects. 

4. Adults suffering from insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall and stay asleep at night. Insomnia is often worsened by symptoms of anxiety, stress or other outside factors. Studies show weighted blankets can reduce insomnia, particularly in people with conditions like anxiety, depression and ADHD. The deep pressure therapy you get from a weighted blanket provides a calming effect that makes it easier to fall asleep. 

Frequently asked questions

Can everybody use weighted blankets? 

Weighted blankets are suitable for most people, but not everyone. If you have certain medical conditions, like type 2 diabetes, asthma or chronic respiratory issues, you should avoid using a weighted blanket. People with sleep apnea should also stay away from weighted blankets since they can constrict airflow. If you have a medical condition and aren’t sure whether a weighted blanket is safe for you, consult your doctor before using one. 

How heavy should my weighted blanket be?

As a general guideline, choose a product that’s about 10% to 15% of your body weight. (If you weigh 170 pounds, for example, you’d look for a 20-pound weighted blanket or something close.)

Is it safe for children to use weighted blankets? 

It’s safe for most children over 2 years old to use a weighted blanket over a regular blanket. However, keep in mind weighted blankets can be dangerous for toddlers under the age of 2 due to the risk of suffocation. Weighted blankets may also be dangerous for older children with developmental disabilities or delays who are at risk of suffocation.  

Can weighted blankets help with Restless Legs Syndrome?

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a condition marked by uncomfortable sensations in the legs, typically occurring at night and often resulting in a strong urge to move them. Research shows massage and constant pressure on the legs can help improve symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome, so a weighted blanket may work. 

Weighted blankets do an excellent job of making you feel calm and secure, thanks to the deep pressure they provide. The use of weighted blankets can help reduce the symptoms of certain medical conditions, like anxiety and insomnia, resulting in better sleep overall. 


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

More from MediaFeed:

Can alcohol actually help you sleep?

Can alcohol actually help you sleep?

I’ve never been a huge drinker, but I’ve definitely imbibed more than usual over the last year and a half. With all the added stress from the pandemic, I’ve found myself reaching for a large glass—or two, let’s be real—of wine almost every night.

Not only does drinking alcohol leave me with a serious case of acid reflux, though, but it also makes getting a good night’s sleep pretty difficult. That’s not surprising, given studies show alcohol negatively impacts sleep.

“While some people notice that an alcoholic drink or two causes drowsiness and aids them in falling asleep, there is evidence to suggest that alcohol, particularly in high doses, can interrupt and negatively affect the quality of one’s sleep,” says Emma M. Laing, PhD, RDN, clinical associate professor and director of the didactic program in dietetics at the University of Georgia.

To get my sleep (and health) back on track, I’ve decided to temporarily quit drinking and do a dry month challenge. Here, learn more about how alcohol affects sleep and the many benefits you can expect from a dry month. 

AlexPro9500/ istockphoto

In general, alcohol quickens how fast you’ll fall asleep — and it also makes it harder for noise and commotion to wake you up. 

Research shows alcohol increases the amount of time spent in slow-wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep, although recent data suggests this only happens in people who are already deficient in deep sleep. (This could be the case if you have a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea.) 

These effects only occur in the first part of sleep, usually within the first four hours of the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol. Once your body has broken down all of the booze, you’ll start to experience worse sleep. Now you’re awakened and can be aroused from sleep more easily.

Why is that? According to studies on alcohol and sleep, you tend to spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep and REM sleep (the period when you dream) during the later part of the night, after you’ve thrown back a few cocktails. 

In general, most people can metabolize one drink every one to two hours. But when it comes to how alcohol will affect your individual body and sleep, a lot of factors come into play. These include:

  • What you drink: Some types of booze have a higher alcohol content than others and will therefore hit you harder. A standard serving of beer (12 ounces) usually has around 5% alcohol; a standard serving of wine (5 ounces) usually has around 12% alcohol; and a standard serving of distilled 80-proof liquor (1.5 ounces) usually has around 40% alcohol. 
  • How much you drink: The more alcohol you drink, the higher your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will be. 
  • How quickly you drink: The faster you down drinks, the higher your BAC will be. 
  • Your gender: Alcohol affects men and women differently. Women tend to weigh less than men and ultimately tend to get intoxicated more quickly. Women also have less dehydrogenase, the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the stomach. This can lead to higher BACs for women even if they drink the same amount of alcohol as men. 
  • Your body size: People with smaller body sizes will feel the effects of alcohol faster. 
  • What you eat: Food also plays a role in how alcohol will affect you. Having something in your stomach, whether it’s carbs, fat or protein, will help slow down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. The larger the meal and the closer you time it to your drinking, the lower your peak BAC is likely to be. 

That said, research shows as little as one drink could worsen your sleep, regardless of your gender or your weight. A 2018 study found that one drink reduces the restorative quality of sleep by 9.3%. Moderate alcohol consumption (three drinks), meanwhile, was shown to lower sleep quality by 24%. High alcohol consumption (seven drinks) was shown to decrease sleep quality by as much as 39.2%. 

Results were similar for women and men, as well as for people of smaller and larger body sizes and people who were physically active versus those who were more sedentary. 

fizkes / iStock

Research shows alcohol can increase the amount of deep sleep people with insomnia get. But this increase in deep sleep is only temporary. After about six nights, people with insomnia will start to develop a tolerance to alcohol and need to drink more to get the same effect, according to one study. 

While the research isn’t conclusive, it does suggest using alcohol as a sleep aid for insomnia could increase the risk of alcohol abuse.

monkeybusinessimages / istockphoto

There’s a link between alcohol consumption and sleep apnea. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, slowing down the part of the brain that controls breathing, along with the firing of the muscles that keep your airway open. When you have sleep apnea, this part of the airway gets repeatedly blocked during sleep. This causes brief arousals throughout the night.

Moderate to heavy drinking can lead to episodes of sleep apnea, even if you don’t have the condition. And for people who do have sleep apnea, studies show drinking can exacerbate this problem.

Yes, alcohol can disrupt sleep. While it has sedative effects that can cause feelings of sleepiness, studies show alcohol, particularly when consumed in excess, can reduce sleep quality and sleep duration.  

fizkes / iStock

Drinking alcohol isn’t going to do your sleep any favors. But if you’re smart about when, what and how much you imbibe, a glass (or two) of Pinot noir won’t necessarily ruin your night, either. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Stop drinking a few hours before bed. Exactly how long you should leave between your last drink and hitting the pillow depends on how much you drink and how quickly your body metabolizes alcohol. Most of us metabolize about one drink every one to two hours.
  • Don’t overdo it. The more drinks you consume, the longer it takes your body to metabolize the alcohol. Regardless of whether your body metabolizes alcohol quickly or slowly, the less alcohol in your system, the less potential for your sleep to get disrupted.
  • Watch out for heavy pours. Stick to standard-size drinks, not doubles, extra-large wine glasses or mixed drinks with multiple shots of different liquors. Bonus: You’ll certainly save money the next time you hit the bar. 

tommaso79 / iStock

Now you know all the ways alcohol can wreak havoc on your sleep. So naturally, you might be wondering whether taking a break from booze could improve your shut-eye. 

Here’s what you need to know about Dry January, the benefits of doing a dry month, and how to stick with it to experience the best results. 

itakdalee / istockphoto

Dry January involves taking a month-long break from alcohol. Because it begins on January 1, some people participate in Dry January to kick-start a New Year’s resolution to cut back on alcohol. Other people use it as a way to reset after lots of holiday drinking.

The first Dry January took place in 2013. The campaign originated with Alcohol Concern, a U.K. organization, as a way to encourage mindfulness around alcohol consumption.

That first year, 4,000 Brits took the challenge, and it’s since expanded worldwide. Close to 25% of Americans reported interest in participating in Dry January in 2019.

Other popular months to stop drinking include September and October, which you’ll often see referred to as Sober September and Sober October. But really, you can do a dry challenge any month of the year.

OntheRunPhoto / iStock

Even taking a short hiatus from drinking alcohol can result in better quality sleep. According to 2015 research out of the University of Sussex, 62% of Dry January participants reported better sleep.

“Appreciating the various ways in which alcohol can disrupt sleep, it makes sense that taking a break from drinking can result in more restful nights,” says Laing.

She does note, however, that heavy drinkers who decide to stop drinking abruptly may experience withdrawal symptoms before they start to see the sleep benefits. “Multiple factors, including how much and how often you drink, can contribute to the severity of these withdrawal symptoms,” she says.

Hilary Sheinbaum, journalist and author of The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month, first took the Dry January challenge in 2017 and noticed improvements in her sleep.

“When I gave up alcohol for one month, one of the most surprising epiphanies was my quality of sleep,” she says. Before taking the challenge, Sheinbaum says she used to sleep an average of five hours a night, often waking up in the middle of the night.

“I truly thought that was due to my crazy-busy New York City life, my around-the-clock job and my anxiety as a whole,” she says. “Nope! Not long into my first Dry January, I realized that even though my work and lifestyle were as busy as ever, I was sleeping seven to eight hours each night, which was a personal record.”

The only change Sheinbaum had made in her life? Giving up alcohol.

Laing says additional health benefits of cutting out alcohol, even for a short period, include an improved immune system and liver function, as well as a heightened ability to curb mindless snacking.

Per the University of Sussex research, 62% of Dry January participants reported more energy, while 82% felt a sense of achievement. Additionally, 49% of participants said they lost weight.

One of the more surprising benefits for Sheinbaum, meanwhile, had to do with her skin.

“My skin looked infinitely clearer and more glowy, even in the dead, dull, month of January,” she says. “As it turns out, alcohol dehydrates your body, including your skin.”

Prostock-Studio / iStock

A month without booze might sound daunting, but there are some things you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly, no matter if you plan it for January or any other month:

  • Be clear about your intentions. Make a list of the top reasons you’re giving up alcohol to remind yourself why you’re taking this break in the first place, suggests Laing. “Keep your list in a prominent place and refer to it when the urge to drink strikes,” she says. “If possible, talk about your intentions with your friends, family, and your healthcare provider, so they understand and are able to offer support when needed.”
  • Enlist a friend to do it with you. “For first-timers, I suggest recruiting a friend or friends to partake in the challenge with you,” says Sheinbaum. Her first Dry January stemmed from a spontaneous bet she made with a friend on New Year’s Eve in 2016. “The first year I did the dry challenge, and made a Dry January bet, it felt like a group effort,” she says. “It was so helpful to have a friend to keep me accountable—and also share tips and tricks along the way.”
  • Replace drinking with another activity. These last few months, I’d always reach for a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day. But there are healthier ways to relieve anxiety, and Dry January is the perfect time to incorporate some of these activities into your routine. Try taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk around the block with your pet or cooking a new recipe, says Laing.
  • Keep alcohol out of sight. “If you think you’ll be tempted by having alcohol in the house, put it away or give it to a friend to temporarily hold,” suggests Sheinbaum. As she notes, the point of a dry challenge isn’t to torture you. “It’s to make a dry month as simple, easy and as enjoyable as possible,” says Sheinbaum.
  • Sip tasty non-alcoholic beverages. “Replacing what is in your glass or cup doesn’t have to be fancy or require a lot of effort,”  Laing says. “Making a cup of soothing hot or iced tea, coffee or hot chocolate can be a helpful alternative, along with juices, smoothies, bubbly waters, and other beverages you have on hand that pique your interest.” Sheinbaum likes flavored seltzers, as well as Gruvi’s non-alcoholic prosecco and Athletic Brewing Company’s non-alcoholic beers. (For more inspiration, we’ve rounded up these delicious mocktail recipes.)


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


Featured Image Credit: fizkes / iStock.