Do Weighted Blankets Really Ease Anxiety And Stress?

Posted by Naomi Rohr on

As more people are feeling stressed from lockdowns and quarantine, the interest in weighted blankets have boomed over the past year. People often describe weighted blankets as being wrapped in a warm, giant hug whilst in bed. For some people with anxiety and sleep issues, this seems like the perfect solution!

However, is there really any truth to weighted blankets reducing stress and anxiety? Or is it just the placebo effect with buyers? We’ll be doing a deep dive into the research behind weighted blankets, and seeing whether they’re just a fad or here to stay.

📷 Therapy Blanket

What are weighted blankets?

Weighted blankets are basically blankets that incorporate glass beads or plastic pellets to make them heavier. They come in a variety of shapes, designs and colours to suit different tastes. They often range between five and thirty pounds in weight. 

Weighted blankets are supposed to work by adding extra pressure on your body and joints, which apparently causes the nervous system to relax. While it may sound like pseudoscience, weighted blankets were actually developed for therapeutic purposes, like orthopaedic shoes for example.

📷 Therapy Blanket


How weighted blankets work

Weighted blankets were developed based on a concept called deep pressure stimulation (DPS). This concept was first discovered by a scientist called Temple Grandin, during her research into treatment of autistic children. 

She found that applying gentle pressure onto their bodies was linked to increased oxytocin levels (hormone that plays a key role in bonding between moms and babies). They also increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain (brain chemicals responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness).

This research led to the development of weighted blankets that were used to help soothe patients with autism and other disorders. It helps calm people by making them feel safe and secure, and kind of like imitating a hug.

Benefits of Weighted Blankets

As serotonin and dopamine are such important chemicals in regulating mood, there are some incredible psychological benefits of weighted blankets.

  • Better Sleep

We’ve already stated that weighted blankets improve mood and reduce heart rate, increasing feelings of relaxation and calm. So, this is great for people who have trouble falling asleep or feel fidgety or anxious at night. Because of the weight of the blanket, it will also physically stop you from tossing and turning in the middle of the night.

In fact, serotonin (which weighted blankets increase) have a direct role in regulating the sleep cycle. More serotonin improves sleep pressure, which means you will find it easier to fall into a deep sleep. This is when the body is busy repairing itself, which is essential when you are working out and trying to burn fat.

Better sleep, of course, has its own slew of benefits including improved fat burning and reduced appetite during the day. 


  • Better social interactions

    With a better mood, reduced stress and a good night’s sleep, it should come as no surprise that weighted blankets can help foster a better social life during the day. You’ll feel more relaxed, calm and agreeable with other people, as opposed to nervous, tired and closed off.


  • Eases symptoms in those with fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is characterised by chronic pain in muscle tissue, and is a condition where the brain amplifies the sensation of pain more than in the average person. They also suffer frequently from depression and anxiety. By creating feelings of calm and reducing the heart rate, weighted blankets can help ease these symptoms.


  • Improved memory and cognitive function

    Another important benefit of reduced stress and improved sleep is an improved cognitive function. Stress and a lack of sleep have been proven to negatively impact regions of the brains associated with memory and learning. It can make you feel groggy, slow down reaction times and make it harder to remember things.

    So, weighted blankets can help with both aspects here—reducing stress and improving quality of sleep. 


  • Can help with symptoms of menopause

    Menopause presents a huge change in the body for women. Common symptoms include depression and problems sleeping. Weighted blankets can help calm these symptoms down by improving serotonin levels and calming you down.


  • Can help those with OCD

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is worsened by low serotonin levels, and can make someone more obsessive. Weighted blankets help by improving serotonin and dopamine levels, which can not only calm nerves, but also reduce obsessiveness. 


  • Great for those looking to lose body fat and improve muscle tone

    Sleep and stress play critical roles in fat burning. High stress levels release a hormone called cortisol, which over time, can hold on to body fat and make it harder to lose weight. Deep sleep is also when your body repairs itself and builds muscle, which is crucial to losing weight as well. 

    Since weighted blankets help with both sleep and stress, it can also help you with your weight loss journey. It will help you stick to a routine and control your appetite much better as well (since a lack of sleep is linked to binge eating).

    Who should use weighted blankets?

    Anyone can reap the benefits of better sleep and reduced stress through the use of weighted blankets. However, there are some groups of people who will especially benefit from weighted blankets:

  • People with sleep disorders: By restricting fidgety sleepers and helping to regulate the sleep cycle, weighted blankets can really benefit those suffering from irregular or poor sleep.

  • People with ADHD: People, especially children with ADHD can struggle to sleep because they are constantly distracted by various sounds and stimuli. Weighted blankets help by restricting their movement and keeping them calm.

  • People with Autism: The pressure from weighted blankets have been shown to calm down children with autism, by reducing stress that can discourage social interactions and improving feelings of security.


    Weighted blankets are a great investment if you feel stressed frequently and have trouble sleeping. They work by adding light pressure to your joints, which increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin improves mood and eases stress. 

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