What is a weighted blanket?
The clue’s in the name. As well as providing warmth and comfort, the idea behind a weighted blanket is that thanks to its filling, it offers added weight that feels like you’re receiving a gentle hug. The added pressure they provide has a grounding effect on the body that leads to an increase sense of relaxation. Originally developed for medical use by therapists and psychiatrists – namely for people with conditions such as autism, sleep and nervous disorders – weighted blankets mimic the sensation you felt when swaddled as a baby, offering a familiar kind of comfort that alleviates and redirects external stressors.
What’s the science behind it?
It all comes down to Deep Pressure Therapy (DTP), says Matthew King, co-founder of weighted blanket brand Mela. “DTP is a term for when pressure is applied equally across the body, and it’s proven to have a calming effect on the nervous system. The technique, applied through a hug, or say, a weighted blanket, has been shown to increase the release of dopamine and serotonin by around 30%, and decrease the stress hormone cortisol by the same amount, promoting the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.” Matthew also explains DTP has been shown to have powerful benefits for those with insomnia, anxiety, depression, autism, restless leg syndrome, ADHD and PTSD. It’s clever stuff.
How heavy should your blanket be?
As a general rule, a weighted blanket should be between 8-12% of your body weight, meaning that a 60kg woman should choose a blanket with a 7kg weight, more or less, says Matthew. The majority of blankets available come in a variety of weights, but don’t be tempted to go for something that’s too heavy for you, otherwise it’ll be tricky to manoeuvre and uncomfortable. At the same time, if you’re just trying one for the first time, don’t be afraid to go for something a little lighter (say, in the 5kg category), but remember the best results come from a blanket nearer the 10-12% of your body weight range.
How do you use it?
A weighted blanket should lay comfortably snug around your whole body so it can provide gentle, even pressure all over. They aren’t meant to replace your duvet, but with many available in larger sizes to match mattress dimensions, there’s nothing stopping you using it on top of your duvet, or even in your mattress cover. If you’re looking to reduce stress and anxiety, consider taking yours to the sofa in the evening – you can even fold the blanket in half to increase the weight. And when it comes to seeing results, it’s instantaneous. Studies show that the instant application of weight produces a calming effect within as little as 15 minutes.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t use one?
Weighted blankets shouldn’t be used by anyone that can’t move freely beneath the weight, i.e. children. Some brands, however, such as Mela, John Lewis and Remy, do offer child-specific blankets that weigh 2-4kg, which are worth exploring if your child (aged three and above) suffers from ADHD, insomnia or anxiety.
Weighted blankets were designed for solo use for optimal weight distribution, giving you permission to hog the blanket. If you and your other half want to use one, you’ll need to get one each for the best results.
Want to get involved? These are the weighted blankets we rate…
Calming Blankets Silver Ion Weighted Blanket, £189
For a blanket that will stay clean and bacteria free, this clever option will fight off viruses while you sleep. Having a cleaner blanket can also be beneficial for your skin, ideal for preventing bacteria build-up if you suffer from the likes of acne and eczema.
Gravity Weighted Blanket, £126.55 (was £149)
The original weighted blanket, this comes in five weight options, from 4 to 12kg, and the velvet-like fabric makes it the perfect option for chilly evenings. It also has secure buttons and ties to make sure the blanket stays put in the cover, ideal if you’re prone to fidgeting.
John Lewis Synthetic Weighted Blanket, £60
Ideal for first timers, this blanket is available in a selection of different weights, meaning there’s something for everyone. John Lewis also offers a range of weighted blankets for children.
Koala Therapeutic Weighted Blanket Set, £109.99 (was £165)
A great eco-friendly option, made from bamboo and cotton, this blanket is suitable for all seasons thanks to a clever double-sided cover. It has been designed to either fit inside your duvet cover, or as a blanket on top, making it perfect for those who struggle with their sleep.
Mela Weighted Blanket, £119.99
Made with anti-rustle glass pellets that adapt to your shape and an 100% cotton shell, this blanket also has a removable cover, making it easy to keep clean. The reversible, fleecy cover feels super cosy and luxurious, but Mela also offers lighter covers for the summer.
Remy Weighted Blanket, £49 (was £59)
One of the more established weighted blanket brands, Remy’s offering comes with the option of a cosy plush or breathable bamboo cover in multiple colour options. They also offer a hand-knitted weighted throw if you’re looking for a naturally weighted blanket. All Remy models come with a 100-night trial period.
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.